CHAPTER TEN: The Pre-Trib Rapture Problem

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LET ME STATE THIS AS SIMPLY AS POSSIBLE:

God’s people need to understand “Bible prophecy”. I don’t care how “off limits” it is supposed to be. I don’t care how politically incorrect and “indelicate” it supposedly is to bring this topic up in polite Evangelical company. 

I don’t care how widespread is the notion that only the elite and top professional theologians of the world are qualified to dissect and interpret the Bible’s prophecy passages. And I don’t care how big the “big wigs” are (with Rick Warren being a chief example) who are actively trying to shoo away God’s people from delving into the subject.
Prophecy was of major and central concern to the Lord Jesus who delivered to us the Olivet Discourse two days before He went to the cross, A major discussion of prophecy and of end time events. It was virtually a death bed confessional.
When you are on your death bed…when death is imminent…what are the things you will convey to your loved ones? Answer: The most critical and vital matters.
Therefore the things which Jesus conveyed in the Olivet Discourse were obviously of absolute importance in His mind. And yet in today’s Evangelical world…the Olivet Discourse is systematically and premeditatedly…obscured.
It is systematically obscured because people (pastors and teachers) are afraid of it. The Olivet Discourse seemingly makes absolutely no sense when placed under the shadow of “PreTribulation rapture” doctrine…a doctrine which is still to this day the politically correct view on Bible prophecy in the Evangelical world.
The beliefs and understandings which Peter, James, John and Andrew held as they went out from their hearing of the Olivet Discourse…are in direct contradiction to the teachings of the so-called “PreTribulation rapture” doctrine.
Here is an interesting question to consider: How can the top “PreTrib” proponents of the world…such as Tim LaHaye, John MacArthur, David Jeremiah, Hal Lindsey, etc….be in direct conflict and in direct disagreement with the views held by Peter, James and John as they went out from their hearing of the Olivet Discourse?
There is not an Evangelical on the face of the earth who could come within a thousand miles of successfully contradicting the beliefs of those disciples…beliefs which had been handed to them by the Lord Jesus Himself. He had just got through telling them to look out for an event called the “Abomination of Desolation” and a time of “great troubles” for believers which will follow this event.
And that event, by almost universal agreement among conservative Bible students, occurs way into the 7-year period referred to as the 70th Week of Daniel…years past any alleged “PreTrib rapture”.
Imagine with me for just a moment…if some of today’s celebrity proponents of PreTrib were able to ‘time travel’…and were thus standing outside the meeting place of the Olivet Discourse, waiting for Peter, James and John…then pulling them aside and asking them: 
“Say, did Jesus tell you to be on the look-out for the Abomination of Desolation event? I’m sorry but that’s a mistake. You are going to be raptured long before that. Just wanted to give you guys a heads-up!”
Therefore, any debate that might occur between Peter (et al) and, say, C.I. Scofield, John MacArthur or David Jeremiah…is over before it has even begun. End of the line for “PreTrib”. Game over.
RICK WARREN AND THE DOMINIONISM MOVEMENT
The other main  reason the Olivet Discourse is obscured and systematically avoided…is because of the aforementioned ‘world champion’ Dominionist Rick Warren and an army of other prominent Dominionists…who aggressively dismiss and reject any and all teaching and/or treatment of the Bible’s prophecy passages.
A BRIEF LOOK AT THE OLIVET DISCOURSE:
In the Olivet Discourse passages (found in the synoptic gospels–Matthew, Mark and Luke) the disciples come to Jesus asking Him what they should expect to encounter in the ‘end times’.
Jesus looks them straight in the eye, and in the simplest and plainest terms explains…
…that those of His followers who live in those days must expect to find themselves up against the Antichrist himself.
In other words, they are to expect to be on earth at the time of the so-called “Abomination of Desolation”.
Therefore, what did Peter, James, John and Andrew believe and understand about the end times? Well…they believed whatever it was that Jesus told them! And what had Jesus told them?
Answer: Again, they (or whoever among Jesus’ “disciples” are alive in those days) were to expect to be on earth at the same time as the events of the Abomination of Desolation and therefore, the emergence of the Antichrist.
And by the way…“disciples” is the exact designation of those to whom Jesus was speaking in the Olivet Discourse. The words of the Olivet Discourse apply to Jesus’ “disciples”.
You have to understand that proponents of the ( world famous) PreTribulation Rapture doctrine have tried to build a rebuttal by viewing the Olivet Discourse in a strangely fuzzy and out of focus manner: “oh, it was just some Jews or something” whom Jesus was addressing.
In other words, they try to argue Jesus’ words only applied to a nondescript group of “Jewish” people.
But this amazingly fumbling and stumbling interpretation is not true. Jesus was addressing specifically Peter, James, John and Andrew. These were specific people. These were people with names and faces. And these were people who specifically believed what Jesus has specifically told them. 
He was not just addressing the general Jewish population.That is pointedly inaccurate and a direct contradiction to the text which specifies Jesus was addressing...wait for it..."the disciples"!
Therefore…
…PETER, JAMES AND JOHN OBVIOUSLY BEGAN TO PASS ALONG JESUS’ TEACHING. 

WERE THEY THEREFORE “FALSE TEACHERS” FOR CONTRADICTING “PRE-TRIB”DOCTRINE IN THIS WAY?
Think about this: These followers of Jesus then went out from their hearing of the Olivet Discourse and obviously began to report and to teach other believers “hey people, we need to look for the specific event of the Abomination of Desolation as a signaling of the Lord’s impending return!”.
Jesus told these four disciples to expect a time of “tribulation” to follow this Abomination event…a period of great troubles for Jesus-followers which is then ended by the return of the King and a gathering of believers into His presence.
And so when Peter, James, John and Andrew began to convey this information to the other believers, either Jesus had taught them incorrectly and they were now passing along false teaching…OR…they were correct in telling the other believers what Jesus had conveyed to them.
Make no mistake: The Olivet Discourse is specifically directed to…“disciples” (i.e. followers) of Jesus. And if it is directed to the “disciples…it therefore applies to the “disciples”. How can that be disputed?

THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION – A HORRIFIC AND MURDEROUS EVENT
The “Abomination of Desolation” which Jesus described to Peter, James and John as the specific event His followers must expect to encounter…
…will be this climactic, murderous advent of the Antichrist whereby he announces himself to the world…with screeching blasphemy, the destruction of Jerusalem, and a holocaust of the Jewish people living in the area.
And Jesus indicates plainly that His followers (whichever of them are alive during that time) are to expect to be on earth during those days.
This satanic world leader will implement a global totalitarianism at that time, and after being frustrated in his efforts to eliminate the final “remnant” of the Jews (by divine intervention) he then goes off “to make war with the rest of [God’s] children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Rev. 12:17)
HAVE YOU RESIGNED FROM BEING A BIBLE STUDENT?
Tragically, the subject of “Bible prophecy” has long since developed a terrible reputation among Christian people. And so, many (or most) people will throw up their arms at this point and exclaim “oh well, one group argues this, another group argues that — who knows what to believe??”. 
Wait just a minute. You can’t throw in the towel like that. You don’t just give up and walk away. Not on one of the central and critical questions of all the Bible. Not when fully one fourth of the Scripture consists of Bible prophecy.
Are you a Bible student or not? Do you just sit in church, Sunday after Sunday, listening to shallow ‘pop psychology’ sermons…and leave it at that??
What are we to think? That God sits up in the heavens, face in His hands, lamenting: Why oh why do I have such a huge emphasis on prophecy in the Word? What was I thinking??
Obviously, that is not happening. And the plain fact of the matter is…God has made Bible prophecy so utterly simple, a child can understand the bulk of it, certainly as Jesus presented it in the Olivet Discourse.
And I know from experience: At one point, as an experiment I had a 12 year-old child read through the main portion of Matthew 24. It took her about fifteen minutes. And in fifteen minutes, this 12 year-old child had achieved a good basic grasp of all the pertinent facts concerning the end times. Go figure!
She didn’t have to read all twenty-four of Tim LaHayes’ “Left Behind” novels…didn’t have to attend Dallas Theological Seminary for several years…didn’t have to watch 500 hours of David Jeremiah’s televised sermons. Just fifteen minutes at the feet of Jesus…in the Olivet Discourse. Twelve years old. Fifteen minutes.
THE WORD OF GOD HAS BEEN LARGELY DESIGNED FOR THE COMMON MAN
The argument I am trying to make here is that the plain statements from the Lord Himself in the Olivet Discourse passages (Matthew 24,25 / Mark 13 / Luke 22) should conclusively indicate the error of the widely accepted and (unfortunately) hugely predominant “PreTribulation Rapture” doctrine. (Again, think Tim LaHaye with his Left Behind novels and Hollywood movies, as an example.) I would dare to say PreTrib proponents have not come within a thousand miles of successfully negating Jesus’ advisory to the “disciples”.
And so today with the storm clouds of the “end times” increasingly gathering on the horizons…there stands ABSOLUTELY NOTHING between the believers and a ferocious, snarling, murderous “Antichrist”…
…except thin air.
There is no barrier. There is no buffer. We are currently headed for this encounter at a thousand miles per hour. There is no miraculous “rapture” which will whisk us off to heaven on “flowery beds of ease”. Not until a time of “great tribulation” has passed and the spectacular cosmic signs appear in the sky (a blood-red moon and a sun which has gone as dark as “sackcloth” – Matthew 24:29) do we see the angels gathering the elect into the arms of Jesus.
ARE YOU FOLLOWING THE SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS IN MATTHEW 25 REGARDING SPIRITUAL PREPARATION FOR THE “ABOMINATION”? 
What is the level of spiritual preparation on the part of the vast majority of believers?? This is a preparation regarding which Jesus carefully instructs in Matthew 25:1-13 whereby only five of the ten virgins are those who carefully fill their lamps with oil in anticipation of having to step out into the darkness to “meet the Master”.
Answer: The level of spiritual preparation on the part of the vast, vast majority of believers (particularly in cozy, comfy America)…is zero.
Please remember: Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 25 require a specific preparation for a specific time of trial, i.e. the “darkness”…which is the time of “great tribulation” that follows the “Abomination of Desolation”…and which precedes the return of the King.
And so now, with the apparent emergence of these satanic undercover agents (“false prophets”) within the Christian community (which we will talk about shortly)…believers who have made the dismissive argument with me that…they need no specific understanding of the Olivet Discourse, and have no need to study Bible prophecy, and that they maintain merely a “general” preparedness (or so they claim)…are on very, very shaky ground, if I am understanding Matthew 25 correctly. Read over the the text for yourself!
ARE YOU PREPARING YOURSELF, YOUR LOVED ONES, AND/OR YOUR FLOCK?
The question is…have you been preparing yourself spiritually for the time of “great” trial and tribulation? And if perchance you’re getting up in years and possibly may not survive to that timeare you at least preparing your children? Or will you leave them to be blindsided and deceived by this evil Antichrist cabal?
If you are a Christian leader, are you going to prepare your flock? Are you going to ease them into the teachings of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, 25 / Mark 13 / Luke 21)? Give them a chance to fill their lamps with oil in order to be able to go out into the darkness to meet the Master?
THE ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL, KEY IMPORTANCE OF THE OLIVET DISCOURSE:
Therefore, the purpose for this chapter is to try to create heightened awareness of a tragic error being committed by those in the conservative “Evangelical” church world of today…in brushing aside the Olivet Discourse. 
My hope and prayer is that the reader has begun to understand just how dangerous is this neglect and brushing aside…as they have read through the evidence presented in this "e-book" of a very startling emergence of diabolically disguised satanic undercover agents (“false prophets”) in the modern-day conservative church world.
This phenomenon has developed exactly as Jesus foretells in the Olivet Discourse…along with many other hugely critical advisories which He puts forth regarding the ‘end times’ in these passages, one of two final major teaching sessions which He delivers to the disciples before going to the cross two days later.

HOW CAN A BIBLE CHRISTIAN BE IN DISAGREEMENT WITH PETER, JAMES AND JOHN??
Think about that for a moment: How could any Bible Christian be at odds with Peter, James, John and Andrew and in disagreement with them…over their understanding of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse message??
From Jesus’ point-blank statements, they were given the understanding they should look for events that occur PAST the time of an alleged “pre-tribulation” rapture event.
It is utterly inconceivable in the extreme…to think that these disciples believed wrongly (a position which PreTrib doctrine is disastrously forced to take) …and that they entered into the Christian era a few days later…believing false doctrine…and even worse…that they would have begun to teach this supposed “false doctrine”!
And worst of all…that Jesus Himself  therefore had taught false doctrine!
He told these believers to look for…not a mythical pre-“70th Week” rapture event…but rather (and in direct contradiction to PreTrib doctrine)…a mid-“70th Week” event: The Abomination of Desolation
…followed by a time of “great tribulation”, and only then followed by the glorious “Gathering” of the believers at some point during this second half of the 70th Week.
IMAGINING A CONVERSATION WITH THESE DISCIPLES
Imagine if you were able to ‘time-travel’ back to the days of Peter’s, James’ or John’s earthly ministry…let’s say 5 or 10 years into the Christian era…and you could ask them: “Say, do you still heed the words of Jesus from the Olivet Discourse?”.
What could we possibly imagine they would say other than…
“Well, of course we still heed His words from that day. Has someone contradicted the words of Jesus since then? And how could it be possible to contradict His teachings?!”
To suggest, as PreTrib doctrine inadvertently does, that these disciples believed and taught false doctrine and that Jesus Himself, in effect, handed false, incorrect beliefs to His followers…
…is the absolute and utter invalidation of “PreTribulation rapture” doctrine.
ANOTHER CONCERTED EFFORT TO OBSCURE THE OLIVET DISCOURSE MESSAGE:
If the damage done by PreTribulation Rapture doctrine isn’t bad enough, there are also the advocates of Dominionism who are aggressively dismissive of any and all “rapture” and Bible prophecy issues. Think Rick Warren, as a chief example.
The effects of Dominionism are such that it has huge throngs of Evangelicals strutting around with a sort of ‘in-your-face’ attitude: “We’re here – we’re Evangelicals – get used to it!”…and thumbing their noses dismissively at any and all Bible prophecy.
The really die-hard Dominionist ‘false teachers’ (like Pat Robertson, Rousas Rushdoony, Gary North and Rick Warren)…are actually envisioning an ‘end game’…where a combination of American military might (Pax Americana) and supposedly an ever increasingly global Evangelical influence …will eventually pave the way for Christ’s return, once God’s kingdom supposedly has been successfully “implemented” on earth. Are these people ever headed for a rude awakening!
AN ONCOMING LOCOMOTIVE
Thus, the church world today is ensconced in comfy, cozy blissful ignorance, hanging out at Starbucks outlets all across the land, hunched over Caffè Lattes…not realizing they are, in effect, sitting on the train tracks with the Abomination of Desolation locomotive bearing down at 1000 mph!
This is the single greatest tragedy of the Christian era (in my view) and the single greatest deception the Devil has ever gotten over on the conservative church world.
When the Abomination of Desolation event explodes across the world with snarling ferocity (resulting initially in the widespread destruction of Jerusalem and surrounding areas, along with an unprecedentedly massive holocaust of the Jewish people there) and the Devil’s “masterpiece”, the Antichrist, roars his announcement to the world…
…all those who had believed in a “PreTribulation rapture” and all those under the influence of Dominionism and who therefore chuckle and giggle at the idea of “Bible prophecy”…will be paralyzed in terror.
According to Jesus, the majority will fold. They will capitulate, they will take the “mark of the beast” and they will go on to split the gates of Hell wide open“The love of most will grow cold, but only the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” – Matthew 24:12,13.
Apparently, there are many, many people populating the church world who will turn out not to have been genuine believers.
And if you look more closely at the passage…“the love of most believers will grow coldand only the one who endures to the end, he will be saved”…it is amazingly tragic to think there will be those who HAD a love for the Lord…but then lost that love…turned from God…and went on to their doom.
Not that anyone “loses” their salvation but again, apparently many many believers today will turn out NOT to have been genuine believers…even though at a previous point they had a “love” for the Lord.

PRETRIB'S AMAZINGLY FLAWED ARGUMENT ABOUT THE OLIVET DISCOURSE

First of all, it is extremely difficult to find any extended, detailed treatment of the Olivet Discourse from among PreTrib luminaries...in which each and every facet of these passages is carefully explained and interpreted. In fact, I have literally not been able to find any such thing! (Anyone, feel free to email me a link to information.)

So anyway, get this...PreTrib is (inadvertently or otherwise) saying that if Jesus had returned within their lifetimes (which, by the way, is what they and the entire first generation of Jesus-followers very much expected)...Peter, James and John (et al) would not have been raptured in this envisioned "PreTrib" rapture even though they were obviously believers...and even though all other believers around the world would be taken up in this proposed PreTrib rapture.

In other words, PreTrib is apparently conceding that, yes, Jesus describes a post-"great tribulation" rapture to His disciples...but because His audience was comprised only of Jewish people...saved or not, they were not to expect a PreTrib rapture but rather...merely a post-trib rapture. (?!)

I can imagine any number of PreTrib advocates would step in at this point, trying to create arguments to somehow distance themselves from such a disastrously awkward scenario. 

But, with all due respect, I would insist on pinning this illogical implication on PreTrib doctrine.  The illogical 'bottom line' of PreTrib needs to be accounted for.

Let's approach PreTrib's illogic from another angle by asking this question:  What is the reason Peter, James and John were taught by Jesus to NOT expect a PreTrib rapture and instead were taught to believe they would go through the "great tribulation"?

Either 1) because there IS no such thing as a PreTrib rapture...or 2) as PreTribbers seem to be arguing, inadvertently or otherwise...Jewish believers do not get to have a PreTrib rapture!

Ironically, I'm almost positive any self-respecting PreTribber would utterly reject the idea that a believer (Jewish or not) would miss out on their proposed PreTrib rapture. So then...what IS their explanation??

At this point in the discussion (I have sought out dozens of preachers, teachers and laymen for discussion over the years), I have observed rather significant fragmentation in the PreTrib world...as various individuals head off to the four winds, trying to come up with any number of ways of explaining this gigantic contradiction.



PRETRIB'S CONFUSING MISNOMER-"THE TRIBULATION PERIOD"

Maybe you've seen enough rebuttal of PreTrib doctrine and never really understood or agreed much with this view to begin with...but for some of you bookworms and logic/debate" hobbyists, we push deeper! --

Regarding this dubious misnomer "the Tribulation period"...while it is agreed that the "70th Week of Daniel" has a seven year duration...the specific "great tribulation" described by Jesus in the Discourse, does not begin until the "abomination" (read Matthew 24)...which is almost universally understood as the middle point of the seven years.

Therefore, PreTrib's baffling/troubling "tribulation period" designation for the entire seven year period and which the Bible has already designated as "the 70th Week of Daniel" is extremely unfortunate to say the least, as it is certain to cause confusion between the specific (and expressly biblical) term "great tribulation"...and this dubious misnomer "tribulation period".

Why have PreTrib proponents arbitrarily created a new term for something which the Bible already has a term?? I suppose if C.I. Scofield were still alive, we could ask him. Scofield is the one who, with the aide of some very strange and very rich bedfellows, pioneered the popularization of PreTrib with enormous success, in the early 1900's.

(There is, by the way, huge intrigue associated with Scofield--his personal life and extremely dubious associations...and the degree to which this is glossed over and brushed past by PreTrib proponents verges on the extraordinary. Link: Cyrus I. Scofield and the Tribulation)


ANSWERING A COUPLE OF THE CLASSIC PRE-TRIB "OBJECTIONS":

"But what about 'dispensational conflict'?" ask some PreTribbers. What about it?? PreTribbers are arguing that to have both Jews and Christians on earth at the same time during the 70th Week...creates some sort of "conflict".

But...Jews and Christians are on the earth together right at this moment! Why do Jewish people get to scamper all across the globe during OUR 'dispensation'?

Furthermore, when the Jewish "dispensation" ended at the time of Jesus' death (recall how the temple veil was torn from top to bottom)...that was the end of the Jewish religious economy/dispensation for good.

Regardless of how many animal sacrifices may take place during the 70th Week, there IS no valid Jewish religious economy/dispensation. There only remains the New Testament/cross-of-Calvary dispensation/economy.

In terms of orthodox Christian teaching, there is absolutely no possibility of any kind of "dispensational conflict": The former "dispensation" ended at the cross. The new dispensation/economy (the shed blood of Jesus) remains valid for eternity.


"WHAT ABOUT THE DOCTRINE OF IMMINENCY?"

This is another challenge from PreTribbers. But there never was any such thing as "imminency". From Day One...from the very outset...Christ's followers were told that, among other things, Peter would have to live to old age (and then suffer martyrdom)...therefore, there was NO imminency in existence during the entire first generation of the church.

The Christian era (or "church age" as PreTribbers refer to it) would need to continue until at least Peter's "old age"...at some unspecified time, nearing the end of the first generation of believers.

Either the "doctrine of imminency" is valid...or not. If the entire first generation of the church had no imminency, that's the 'end of the line' for imminency.

As an aside, Christian author Dave Hunt made the incredibly flawed argument at one point...that because many believers may not have been aware of Jesus' prophecy regarding Peter, therefore "imminency" remained intact throughout Peter's advancing years. Amazing illogic: Because there may be some who are not aware of the truth...this means the truth, in effect, does not exist?? 


That's not to mention, all the stories of the disciples' adventures with Jesus were obviously passed around like hot cakes...and thus the story of Jesus' declarations to Peter were widely known from the earliest days. 


THE PROBLEM OF A "SIGNLESS" RAPTURE:

Since PreTribbers (mistakenly, I would argue) equate the "day of the Lord" to the entirety of the seven year period (a claim which apparently is seen as vital to the support of the PreTrib argument)...there are many Scriptures which clearly place major events before the "day of the Lord". Such things would, of course, eliminate the possibility of a "signless" rapture, which is the key feature of the Doctrine of Imminency.

Joel 2:31 is one of many examples of this problem: It prophecies of momentous cosmic disturbances BEFORE the Day of the Lord:

"The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD."

The only option left to PreTrib is to now try to argue that the rapture occurs before the 70th Week of Daniel AND these cosmic events. They arbitrarily place the rapture not only before the day of the Lord...but as an afterthought, also place the rapture before these cosmic disturbances as well.

THEN...they have to go back over to Matthew 24 where there are these identically described cosmic disturbances...and try to argue that these are a different set of cosmic phenomena!  And this, even though Jesus is there quoting the exact Old Testament passages (Isaiah 13:10 and Isaiah 34:4) which are clearly are connected to the Joel 2:31 passage and thus are obviously describing the same exact cosmic events!

I would have to argue (with all due respect) that PreTrib is in deep, deep trouble at this point.


ARE PRETRIB LEADERS IN DENIAL ABOUT THE NET EFFECT OF THEIR TEACHING?

Please understand also the bottom line of PreTrib such as it is perceived by 90% (or more) of conservative church-goers: The huge and vast majority are hoping and believing they are going to be raptured..."before all the bad stuff happens".

That IS the bottom line of modern-day mainstream PreTrib rapturism. The "raptured before all the bad stuff" is virtually an official aspect to this doctrine such as it is presented by a wide array of top PreTrib teachers and leaders.

The vast majority of American church-goers have virtually zero expectation of serious persecution. They are making zero preparations, spiritually or otherwise. The parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25 sits there gathering dust, as far as the American church world is concerned.

The "before all the bad stuff" concept is a falsehood. It creates a false hope. Nowhere is it taught in the Bible that Christians are guaranteed a rapture before 'bad things' happen...and Christians in Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, the Communist nations (during the Communist era), in Nazi Germany, and during the Roman empire...can all testify to NOT having been raptured before lots and lots of bad stuff happened.


Try picturing this:  A Somalian Christian (or a believer from any other of these countries and during any other time throughout church history) sitting on a pile of ashes, having just witnessed the butchering of his entire family...and along comes a PreTrib enthusiast: "Hey, look at the bright side--you still have that PreTrib rapture to look forward to!"  What's wrong with this picture?

Furthermore, to deny that the net effect of PreTrib teaching in America has led to these universal assumptions....and to a universal sleepiness...and a universal 'ho-hum' response to the gathering storm clouds on this world's horizons...is to be in denial indeed.

The absolute fact of the matter is....the absolute bottom line is...99.99% of all PreTrib-indoctrinated church-goers in America hold to a very firm belief that...American believers will never, ever, ever go through any kind of cataclysmic troubles, persecutions, widespread imprisonments, abuse and death.  

That IS the state of affairs in the American church today. And the responsibility for that dangerous, deadly, false doctrine lies clearly at the feet of PreTrib luminaries because of the rosy picture they have painted...certainly over the course of my lifespan, some fifty years.

And let's add to that, the "Dominionists" have also contributed heavily to this "carried off to heaven on flowery beds of ease" scenario. Dominionist, by and large, breezily assume America will grow ever more greater, more powerful and more prosperous. The madness of it all! Playing violins on the deck of the Titanic.


Is it possible a dark age of totalitarian rule could overtake America BEFORE any “rapture” comes along? If you've read through the previous chapters to this point, that certainly has become an intriguing question, has it not?

Interestingly though, if you read the "fine print" (so to speak) almost all PreTrib advocates concede nominally that Americans have no specific exemption from the extreme persecution experiences that a great percentage of all other Christians have gone through, throughout the history of the Church.

And yet...this constitutes a rather interesting and puzzling contradiction coming from within the PreTrib mainstream...where, almost in the same breath, they will then counter-claim...that any severe persecutions of the 'church' would be tantamount to "tainting the Blessed Hope".


ELITISM IN THE CHURCH WORLD

It was interesting for me to read many of the reviews of the book PreWrath Rapture of the Church (which seeks to refute PreTrib) when it came out in the early 90's.

The book was written by a very knowledgeable and educated individual. Nevertheless, there was this long parade of "scholars" from around the nation (led by Dallas Theological Seminary) who, one after the other, scolded Mr. Rosenthal for not having doctoral degrees in Greek, Hebrew and such.

Their message to this author was crystal clear--"real" Bible study is the exclusive domain of self-appointed elites.

I very strongly disagree with this kind of mindset. Jesus was born in a barn next to a cow and a donkey...to indicate the accessibility of the Bible's message--to the poor, the lowly, the not-so-grand, and not-so-great.

When I first began reading and studying the presentations of those who oppose and refute Pretrib (circa 1991), I then went back to all of my familiar PreTrib sources (such as the famous book “Things To Come” by D. Pentecost)…only to realize there is a conspicuous and deafening silence on a wide array of issues and questions.

I know I am saying something very controversial but…PreTrib has gotten a lot of mileage, quite frankly and honestly, from simply being unfathomable to the average Bible student.

It reminds a little, of what so often happens with abstract art—the ‘Average Joe’ looks at it, scratches his head, and then becomes intimidated when it is explained to him that only “geniuses” can understand the artwork.

THE DETAILS OF A "PRE-WRATH RAPTURE": WHAT'S THE USE OF A "RAPTURE" IF IT HAPPENS AT THE VERY END OF THE SEVEN YEARS?

The question might arise- Where does Jesus place this rapture (this supernatural "gathering of the elect") in the sequence of events?

In other words, what is the use of a "rapture" or a "gathering" of believers that happens at the very end of the 7 year period? What's left to be rescued from if the believers have already gone through all of those 7 years?

But wait...this "gathering"/rescue...happens well before the end of the 7 year period (i.e. the 70th Week of Daniel).

Read the Olivet Discourse carefully: 

1) The "gathering"/rapture happens at the time of the appearance of spectacular cosmic disturbances. 

2) Those cosmic events, in turn, signal the beginning of the next and final phase of the 70th Week's events:

Joel 2:31 -- "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome Day of the Lord comes."

So there is the occurrence of these staggering cosmic disturbances, immediately followed by the rescue of God's people from earth and into the arms of the Savior...at which time the wrath of God upon the wicked (i.e. the Day of the Lord) commences for the duration of the remaining time of the seven year period.

The time of "great tribulation" begins (as I have previously pointed out) at the exact middle point of the 7 years...at the time of the Abomination of Desolation. How long it goes on and at what time God's people will be rescued...no one but God the Father knows exactly. 

Jesus said "no one but my Father in heaven knows the day or the hour". Interestingly, PreTrib proponents have wrenched that scripture out of context over all these years and breezily claim that it applies to the timing of their alleged "PreTrib rapture"...a spectacular mishandling of scripture.

some time well after the “abomination” (which the PreTrib and PreWrath groups both understand is the middle point of the 70th Week).


An interesting comparison of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21) with Revelation 6:

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus describes the end times, beginning with 1) "wars and rumors of wars"...2) famine and pestilence...3) a time of Christian martyrdom...followed by 4) spectacular, unprecedented cosmic disturbances (the sun darkens, the moon turns red, the stars fall from the sky)...followed by 5) the sound of the trumpet and the return of the Lord in the clouds.

And please note that the Olivet Discourse describes these things in that order.

And then LO AND BEHOLD....Revelation 6 echos all of the above precisely!--

Revelation 6: "...he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest."

"...the Lamb opened the second seal...another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword." [1. "Wars and rumors of wars".]

"...the Lamb opened the third seal...there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand...."A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"

"...the Lamb opened the fourth seal...I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." [2. "Famine and pestilence".]

"...he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed." [3. Martyrdom of the saints.]

"I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place." [4. Spectacular cosmic disturbances.]

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"
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Notice in that last portion of Revelation 6, how the occurrence of these staggering cosmic signs is signaling the commencement of the day of God's wrath.

Lo and behold, AGAIN! -- Notice POWERFUL CONFIRMATION FROM JOEL 2:31:

“The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood BEFORE the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

Contrary to PreTrib doctrine which equates the time of God's wrath to the entirety of the seven years, the Bible states bluntly and repeatedly...that God's wrath only follows AFTER these great cosmic signs/disturbances.

And isn't it therefore interesting..that if we go back to the Olivet Discourse, we find that this is precisely when the angels are "gathering" God's elect? Just before the outpouring of God's wrath:

"...the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken."

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."
 (Matthew 24:29-31)

And isn't it amazing and resounding confirmation...when we see in the very next portion of Revelation (Rev.7:9-17)...the sudden appearance in heaven, of "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes..." (Rev.7:9).

Rev.7:15 goes on to explain that these are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation...just as is precisely described in the Olivet Discourse.

Given the correlation offered to us in the Bible, by comparing the Olivet Discourse and Rev.6...it is an amazingly awkward stretch to argue this group is merely the limited number of "martyrs". There is a abundantly evident parallel between the two passages which provides extreme clarity.
ARE THE COSMIC EVENTS OF MATTHEW 24 AND REVELATION 6...ONE AND THE SAME?

In answer to the above question: In the Matthew text, the cosmic disturbances are followed by a supernatural translation of believers.

And likewise...in the Revelation text (in which John is given a ‘heavenly’ perch from which to view the events), the cosmic disturbances are followed by a supernatural translation. Notice these descriptions:

“…I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes…” (Rev.7:9)

“…who are they and where did they come from?” “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation.” (Rev.7:13,14)

Could it be any clearer? Could the Bible speak any more simply?


Again…in Matthew, the narration of events ENDS with the Translation. But Revelation goes on to describe what happens AFTER that. In the Revelation text, there are events that FOLLOW the cosmic disturbances and the sudden appearance of vast multitudes in heaven.

Following the descriptions in Rev.6:12 about the sun and moon …6:17 states that “the great day of their [God’s] wrath has come. Who can stand?” The text then goes on to describe this “wrath” in detail…fire from heaven, oceans of blood etc.

I would argue that Pretribulationism (aside from it’s other critical shortcomings here) has a very, very tall order trying to explain the conspicuous absence, in the Olivet Discourse, of all of this over-the-top ‘wrath of God’ stuff.

None of the ‘fire from heaven/oceans of blood’ stuff appears in Matthew 24 at all. Why? AGAIN, because those things don’t happen until AFTER the translation/rapture and the appearance of vast multitudes of believers in Heaven…and are therefore of no direct concern to believers.


RECOMMENDED READING

In my opinion, the greatest single treatment of this entire topic is the book by Marvin Rosenthal: The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church.

You may find Robert Van Kampen's book, The Rapture Question Answered, equally enlightening. And for true bookworms, a previous publication from Van Kampen, The Sign. Actually, on second thought, it's a dead-tie for me..between Rosenthal's book and The Sign. But I recommend starting with Rosenthal.


PRETRIB—A HUGE MOOT POINT?

The irony here is that if some have carefully read through the report up to this point, many erstwhile PreTribbers reading this may now be developing an intuitive realization...that their whole insistence on this “PreTrib rapture” concept has potentially been reduced to really just a moot point.

By that I mean...although America’s ultimate fall may still be a few decades into the future, it could also be a month from now. Our nation appears to be approaching the brink of an abyss--a plunge into totalitarianism, including some very rough times for Christ's "disciples"/followers. So again, is it possible American Christians might be subjected to all of this before any alleged "PreTrib" rapture?

As I said before—the answer to that question, conceded nominally even by PreTrib proponents is—“yes”.

I would think the realization might finally dawn on someone reading through all of this...that from a personal standpoint, whether one experiences imprisonment and/or martyrdom during The Great Tribulation, or experiences such things during a generic ‘great tribulation'...makes little or no practical difference.

By the way, this is one of the great contradictions of Pretribulation Rapturism: The Scriptures declare that “in this world you will have tribulation.”

PreTrib teachers continuously argue (and as I said--this is one of the central arguments for PreTrib) that going through a time of great tribulation would “taint” the Blessed Hope. This certainly stands in awkward opposition to many thousands of martyred and severely persecuted Christians all across the globe.

I would strongly argue therefore that the ‘greatness’ of The Great Tribulation (Matthew 24) refers primarily to it’s unprecedented expansiveness (worldwide) –and only secondarily to it’s ‘intensity’.

After all, there would seem to be nothing more intense than captivity and martyrdom...and those things have already been experienced by millions of believers.

Pray tell…how could the “blessedness” of the Blessed Hope become tainted by tribulation?? In the light of the overall thrust of Scripture regarding the subject of tribulation, I am amazed that this argument has ever developed any footing.


"FEAR NOT, FOR I AM WITH YOU..."

Amazingly, our Lord's advice on all these matters is that there is absolutely nothing for us to be ‘troubled’ about. The Bible is replete with advisories—“let not your hearts be troubled”…and “fear not, for I am with you…”.

To paraphrase another familiar Bible promise--there are no trials or tribulations that God will allow to come upon His children but that He will also “make a way of escape” that we are able to miraculously bear up under it and through it.

I do not know how all of that works. I will say that I grew up reading dozens and dozens of Christian biographies...and have read many amazing testimonies of God’s miraculous strengthening bestowed upon His followers in the midst of the greatest crises.

I have seen God's grace in my own life during various troubled times. It is a huge mistake to try to calculate one's ability to stand up under fire...based on a normal 'everyday' routine disposition. God pours the oil of His grace at the proper time.


JESUS' ADVICE: ATTEMPT ESCAPE!

There are some hopeful expressions found in the Olivet Discourse texts (Matt. 24 / Mark 13 / Luke 21). If you look at the passages closely, Jesus seems quite interested in helping His followers do everything they can to successfully evade the dangers.

In Luke 21:36, Jesus says: "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen...".

We do not need to (nor should we) resign ourselves to martyrdom and/or imprisonment. Jesus wishes us to set a goal and keep at the top of our prayer list...the possibility of "escaping all that is to happen". After all, some among the "elect" are going to survive to the return of the Lord...otherwise, there'd be no need for a "gathering of the elect"!

Jesus emphasizes lightening quick reactions--“fleeing” would seem to have some merit. While many others may be shocked into paralytic amazement at unfolding events, careful students of God’s Word will be miles down the road.

Also the instructions to avoid the desert regions and “inner rooms”...would seem to indicate that an overall awareness on the part of a knowledgeable Christ-follower would enhance the opportunities to sidestep the schemes of these evil people.

World-watching Bible believers who have been paying close attention to the national and world scene have noted all the FEMA prison camps now sprinkling the countryside...many hidden within large military facilities ("inner rooms") and many (or even most) which are in fact located in very remote "desert places".

Then there is Revelation 3:10, which seems to offer a promise to those who have met certain qualifications “...that they will be kept from the hour of tribulation that is going to come upon the whole world…”

In fact, if you look again to Matthew 24:40,41...there will be those (few?) believers who somehow have picked out a path through the entirety of these troubled days...such that they are found, at the moment of the "gathering of the elect" (i.e. the real rapture, described in Matthew 24:31) going about their routine activities and still working at their work places (walking in a field and/or working at a "grind stone"). Not to say they didn't have any number of hair-raising close calls during those Great Tribulation days.

As I stated before, most PreTrib advocates interestingly concede that American Christians have no special exemption from falling into extreme persecution. In all honesty though, these concessions are usually conveyed in an almost perfunctory manner, as though it is not truly viewed as a real possibility. Leonard Ravenhill being one noted exception:

"There is a cowardly Christianity which...still comforts its fainting heart with the hope that there will be a rapture 'perhaps today', to catch us away from coming tribulation." (Sodom Had No Bible, p. 94)


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Psalm 23:1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.




CHAPTER ELEVEN: A Grand Tour of the Devil's Crime Syndicate.


ANY COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS? Email me at matttwofour@yahoo.com

Or  see my "current events" commentary blog:
The New Jerusalem Chronicle



Or see my new blog: THE GREAT APOSTASY PLOT
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INDEX:


INTRODUCTION: Connecting current events to "end times" scenarios...in a way you've never seen before.

CHAPTER ONE: Hidden Luciferians in American culture, politics, academia...and in the Evangelical community.

CHAPTER TWO: The Kay Arthur/ Al Denson/ Robert Schuller/ Star Trek/ Oprah Winfrey Connection??


CHAPTER THREE: A Closer Look At 9/11.



CHAPTER FOUR: An Even Closer Look At 9/11.


CHAPTER FIVE: 9/11--Some Parting Shots.


CHAPTER SIX: A Closer Look At The Bush Family.


CHAPTER SEVEN: The Franklin Cover-Up / Bohemian Grove Connection.


CHAPTER EIGHT: Entering the Netherworld.


CHAPTER NINE: Hurricanes, earthquakes, famine, pestilence, disease...and more.

CHAPTER TEN: The Pre-Trib Rapture Problem.


CHAPTER ELEVEN: A Grand Tour of the Devil's Crime Syndicate.


CHAPTER TWELVE: Part Two of the Grand Tour.


CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Part Three--Wolves in Sheep's clothing.


CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Part Four--More Wolves.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Tracking the Syndicate Through History


CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Tracking the Syndicate--Part Two


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: A Strong Delusion.


CONCLUSION: "Happily Ever After".