MY CONVERSION FROM PRE-TRIBULATIONISM
TO POST-TRIBULATIONISM - 2000-2002
- Dr. Allen M. Barber
HOW I BECAME A “PRE-TRIB” BELIEVER
Before I share how I made the conversion from pretrib to posttrib, I need to explain how I became a pretrib believer.
Although the pastor of the Church where I was saved was pretrib, he did not influence my life as much as a bible teacher who became something of my spiritual mentor. Realizing that I had a serious interest in bible prophecy, he presented me a Scofield Reference Bible - and advised me to study it and said I would learn the truth about prophecy.
Having great respect for him, I diligently studied Dr. Scofield's notes, which presents the traditional dispensational pretrib approach to eschatology (That Israel and the Church are two distinct and separate programs in the bible and never overlap). In addition, I began to read books by all the famous pretrib authors such as Walvoord, Pentecost, Fineberg, Lindsey, Criswell, DeHann, Hunt, Van Impe, etc. Pentecost’s book, Things to Come, is considered the “bible” for pretrib doctrine, and for many years, I swore by its content.
When I became a Baptist pastor, I enthusiastically taught the pretrib doctrine - using the writings of the pretrib authors as my source of revelation instead of the Holy Spirit. That was a serious blunder that blinded me to the truth for about 25 years, and I’m convinced most pretrib believers, including pastors believe what they do by second hand information – what someone wrote in a book or what they heard taught and not by revelation of the Holy Spirit.
The doctors of theology who teach pretrib do so primarily from an “intellectual historical allegorical” approach rather than by the “consistent literal grammatical” method. While they contend they use only the consistent literal grammatical historical method for interpreting bible prophecy, it is easy to prove they do not consistently hold to the literal grammatical method, and that is the key to sound biblical exegesis – consistency in interpreting Scripture.
What pretribbers do is use a combination of the literal grammatical allegorical method to prove their case and that is how they confuse the Scriptures. They use the literal grammatical historical method except where it does not fit their theology, then they switch to the allegorical approach. As I mentioned, there is only one correct way to interpret the Word and that is the consistent literal grammatical method under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Any other method leads to error and confusion. The saying is true that if you start wrong, you end up wrong.
THE HOLY SPIRIT CHALLENGES MY THEOLOGY
Approximately eight years ago, the Holy Spirit began to challenge my pretrib doctrine via a radio prophecy teacher. At first, I was skeptical and somewhat irritated at his post-trib position. I actually became very upset with him and one day called his program and debated his theology. When he blew holes in my pretrib theology and my preconceived stubborn opinions, I was determined to prove him wrong. However, his kindness and patience eventually won me over and I decided to re-study everything I knew about prophecy. Actually, the Holy Spirit was using this minister to lead me into the truth. As the Word says, “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17 ESV).
As has been my habit for many years, I begin my day in prayer and bible reading/study (quiet time as many call it), and one morning the Lord spoke to me from Isaiah 50: 4 that if I would get up early each morning with an open mind and a willing spirit, He would teach me His Word. I obeyed and sat before the Lord each morning with only my bible and Greek/Hebrew aids. I did not consult any commentaries.
From the beginning, I began to see things in the Word that I had glanced over or had not really studied in any detail. The Bible is its own best commentator comparing Scripture with Scripture and that is what I did for two or more years. I provided the willing spirit and the Holy Spirit provided the revelation.
As I studied each passage dealing with prophecy, I was amazed at what I saw. Each day was a learning experience and soon things began to make much more sense than before.
THE KEY TO UNLOCKING THE MYSTERY OF THE RAPTURE – “THE DAY OF THE LORD”
While it is not possible to deal with every passage concerning the rapture controversy, I will tell you the primary key to unlocking the mystery of the rapture is the DAY OF THE LORD. Once you fully understand what the Bible teaches concerning the DAY OF THE LORD, everything else will fit together like a glove. Understanding the Day of the Lord was what convinced me that the rapture was posttrib.
Pretrib teaches that the Day of the Lord covers the entire period from the tribulation to the end of the millennium. On page 929 of my Scofield Bible, in the notes section at the bottom of the page (Book of Joel), it says:
“The term ‘day of the Lord is that period of time when the Lord openly intervenes in the affairs of men, when man’s day has closed (man’s judgment of I Cor. 4:3 is literally man’s day). It will be inaugurated with the RAPTURE of the Church (I Cor. 15:50-58; I Th. 4: 13-18). Since the prophets saw historical events from God’s viewpoint, they saw the unity of God’s world program. Thus, they discerned that visitations of God in their time were near foreshadowings of an ultimate fulfillment. In this sense, the term is frequently used by Joel. The day of the Lord in prophetic times will cover the time of the coming tribulation (Rev. 6-19) and the reign of Christ on David’s throne (Rev. 20). It will be brought to an end by the judgment of the great white throne (Rev. 20: 11-15) and the ushering in of the new heavens and earth, called the day of God (II Peter 3:10-13).”
As a new believer in the Lord and a Baptist, I was not taught anything about the Holy Spirit and nothing about revelation knowledge. I never heard the words revelation knowledge or rhema until many years later when I began to seek a deeper walk in the Spirit. I did not understand that the Word of God is revealed to our spirits by the Holy Spirit and not by studying commentaries and Greek and Hebrew lexicons. This is what the Bible refers to as revelation knowledge (I Cor. 2:9-15). We do need to study the original languages, but the Holy Spirit is the revealer of all true bible knowledge.
There are many seminary professors, doctors of theology, and so-called Greek/Hebrew scholars who know little of the Word, because they approach it strictly from an intellectual academic standpoint. They do not depend upon the revelation of the Holy Spirit. I know what I speak of because I attended three seminaries and earned a Ph. D from one of them. Unfortunately, this has done much harm to the teaching of the Word of God and has produced a generation of biblical illiterates in the church, and I include pastors in that category for I was one of them.
When I read what Dr. Scofield had written, I assumed he was right since he was a renowned scholar with a bible credited to his name. The truth is Scofield never attended a seminary or Bible college and had no formal theological training. He gave himself the title of “Dr.”
As I began to read other pretrib scholars, some that I previously mentioned, I noticed they all said the same thing, even using the same terminology. Later, when I read Hal Lindsey’s books, I discovered that he had one thing in common with many of the other pretrib authors. They all attended Dallas Theological Seminary, which is a conservative, pretrib, premillennial theological institution. Again, I assumed they had to be right since they were Bible scholars. Don’t get me wrong, I am not condemning DTS, but having been to seminary, I know that the majority of the ministers who attend these theological institutions of higher learning, leave there with that mind-set and few take the time to diligently study the Word for themselves to see what God is really saying in His Word. Again, that was my situation. It is interesting that in the past few years, a few of the professors at DTS have abandoned Traditional Dispensationalism for Progressive Dispensationalism. My position is that the Bible does not teach either, but three distinct epochs or ages with the revelation of God moving progressively through all three.
Not once did I attempt to study the Word for myself, but taught as truth what I read in the pretrib commentaries. The majority of my congregations did not know much about prophecy, and so they accepted what I taught them. Very few challenged the pretrib doctrine, and if anyone did, I could usually overcome their objections. On the surface pretrib sounds good to the believer who is afraid to die and doesn’t want to suffer persecution, yet the bible says we enter into the kingdom by much tribulation (Acts 14:22).
Candidly, every time I taught the secret rapture that believers would suddenly disappear leaving behind utter chaos and confusion - cars, planes, trains, buses, etc. crashing all over the world, I would receive a check in my spirit that something was wrong, but I usually put it out of my mind accusing Satan of trying to discredit the truth. Actually, the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me that what I was teaching was not the truth. I knew God was not the author of confusion; that is Satan’s M.O. If a secret rapture causes chaos, confusion, and the death of many innocent people, that would mean God was the source and I knew that was not the case.
When I was challenged to re-study prophecy, I studied every passage dealing with the Day of the Lord and there are many, but the following provide the basis for the revelation: Isa. 2:12; 13:6; Jer. 46:10; Ezk. 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1; 2:11; 2:31; 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Obad. 1:15; Zeph. 1:7,14; Zech 14: 1-7; Mal. 4:5; Acts 2:20; I Cor. 5:5; II Cor. 1:14; I Thess. 5:2; II Thess. 2:2 and II Peter 3:10.
Another term that often refers to the Day of the Lord is “that day,” but it depends how it is used in the context. Other passages imply Day of the Lord without using either of the terms – “Day of the Lord” or” that day,” for example Matthew 24: 29-31:
“29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
One thing all of the above passages have in common is that the Day of the Lord will be a day of gloom, thick darkness, clouds, wrath, woe, dreadfulness, and a time when the sun, moon and stars will not shine.
THE DAY OF THE LORD IS “ONE DAY”
The Day of the Lord is the same day as the Battle of Armageddon, when the armies of the Antichrist surround Jerusalem in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14). None of the Old Testament prophets implied that the Day of the Lord was an extended period such as the seven-year tribulation or the thousand-year reign. They all spoke of it being ONE DAY.
The most compelling evidence for the Day of the Lord being a single day is Zechariah 14: 7 where it says “the Day of the Lord shall be ONE DAY known to the Lord, not day, not night, but it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light.” The Hebrew words for “one day” are yown echaad, which mean ONE LITERAL DAY, but we know from the context of the passage that it will not be a normal day as natural light will be overcome by the shekinah glory of God.
Given the clear meaning of the Hebrew text that the Day of the Lord is one day, we have no Scriptural authority to make it an extended period, to do so distorts the meaning of that day and creates confusion among believers. Satan is delighted when so-called scholars misinterpret the Word.
It is clear that the prophets and the apostles associated the Day of the Lord with supernatural darkness that will cover the earth at the beginning of that day. The Lord Jesus made the same association and I believe this is the “sign” He was speaking of in Matthew 24: 30 – supernatural unusual darkness covering the earth to be followed by supernatural light – the shekinah glory of God. It will be like walking in a dark room and suddenly someone turns on a brilliant blinding light. Such will be the situation on the Lord’s Day.
The inhabitants of the earth who survive the tribulation will know something is up when the whole earth is darker than the darkest night at noon and brighter than the brightest sun at sundown. This is THE SIGN that something great and terrible is about to happen on earth.
Logically, if this phenomenon were to take place during the entire seven-year tribulation, then the events of the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls could not take place as described in Revelation. It is obvious that even though the world will pass through the tribulation, the natural order of things will still exist, particularly during the first three and one-half years. Therefore, it is stretching the context of Scripture to make the Day of the Lord an extended period rather than one single day. While it may fit nicely into a pretrib scenario, it does not support the consistent literal interpretation of the Bible.
In the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:27-30, Jesus mentions that His coming takes place immediately after the tribulation has ended, and that it will be associated with the gathering of eagles (vultures), dead carcasses (dead bodies slain at Armageddon), cosmic darkness with the sun, moon, and stars not giving any light, and supernatural light, - as “lightning shining from the east to the west.” This is exactly what Zechariah described in chapter 14 of his prophecy.
When all of this happens the tribulation is over, but GOD’S WRATH is not finished. Verse 30 says that all the tribes of the earth will mourn (Greek - loud wailing) when they see the Son of Man coming in power and great glory. These people are not rejoicing, but wailing at the wrath of the Lamb that is about to be poured out upon the earth during the Seventh Vial judgment.
ISAIAH 24 DISTINGUISHES THE DAY OF THE LORD FROM THE TRIBULATION
The entire 24th chapter of Isaiah (I suggest you open your bible and read this passage) is devoted to the Day of the Lord. We read in verse one that “the Lord makes the earth empty and a waste and turns it upside down.” The Hebrew word for waste means to annihilate and the meaning of turning upside down conveys the idea of distorting the face – turning the face in such a way that it is not recognized. Verse 6 says, “That the earth is devoured with a curse and the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few are left – survive.” This burning could be the result of thermonuclear explosions or it could be supernatural fire from heaven such as destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The context indicates this is God’s doings and not man.
Notice in verse 18 it says the “windows from on high are opened and the foundations of the earth do shake.” This is not a reference to rain such as occurred during the flood of Noah’s day, but this is FIRE raining down from heaven causing the very foundations of the earth to shake. The following two verses (19 and 20) add to the terrible judgment of the Lamb’s wrath – “the earth is utterly broken down, clean dissolved and moved exceedingly. It reels to and fro like a drunkard and it shall fall and not rise again.” The words clean dissolved, means to break-up, not that the earth disappears.
The Day of the Lord will change the topography of the earth from what it is today as well as destroy all the works of man upon the earth – all the great cities will fall on the Day of the Lord and all the islands will disappear (Rev. 16:20). This does not happen during the seven-year tribulation. Mystery Babylon falls in one hour on the Day of the Lord (Revelation 18: 10).
During the tribulation, man is allowed to rebel against God, blaspheme His name, commit murders, sorceries, and sexual immoralities, but on the Day of the Lord, all unbelievers come under the terrible wrath of the Lamb as well as the earth, which New Agers have worshiped as “Gaia” – mother earth.
It is interesting to me that the Isaiah 24 closes in verse 23 with the same cosmic signs that Zechariah mentioned and also the Lord in Matthew 24: “23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.”
THE LORD ALONE WILL BE EXALTED ON THE DAY OF THE LORD
Isaiah has something else to say about the Day of the Lord that proves it is a distinct and separate day from the tribulation period. Look at Isaiah 2:10-22, which deals with the Day of the Lord. This is clear from the context:
“10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. 11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD ALONE shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: 13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, 14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, 15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, 16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. 17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD ALONE shall be exalted in that day. 18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish. 19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. 20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; 21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. 22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?”
This passage begins with a reference for the earth dwellers to hide in the rocks for the fear of the Lord and for the glory of His majesty (verse 10), but notice in verse 11 that it says, “the Lord ALONE shall be exalted in that day.” Then in the next verse (verse 12), it defines the period as the Day of the Lord. Again, in verse 17, it says the Lord ALONE shall be exalted in that day – THE DAY OF THE LORD.
A careful study of Revelation proves that the Lord is not set apart and exalted during the seven-year tribulation. In fact, the Beast and his kingdom are exalted in the tribulation, not the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus begins to be exalted on the Day of the Lord when he pours out His wrath on the Beast and his kingdom – those who followed the Antichrist and took his mark. While the Battle of Armageddon involves the Antichrist and his armies, there will be many living among the nations who sold out to the Beast and will be judged by the Lord on the Day of the Lord. This is something few prophecy teachers emphasize and most do not distinguish the 70th Week of Daniel (tribulation) from the Day of the Lord.
THE LORD ALONE WILL BE EXALTED ON THE DAY OF THE LORD AND IT IS ONE DAY THAT OCCURS AFTER THE TRIBULATION AND BEFORE THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM.
For pretribbers to teach that the Day of the Lord covers the period beginning with the tribulation and extending to the end of the millennium is to deny the clear contextual teaching of the subject in both Old and New Testaments. The Bible is very clear – The Day of the Lord is ONE DAY THAT BEGINS IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRIBULATION and is the Wrath of the Lamb in which the Lord only will be exalted.
THE APOSTLE PAUL’S UNDERSTANDING OF THE DAY OF THE LORD
Having proved from the Scriptures that the Day of the Lord is one day that occurs after the tribulation, we next need to look at how Paul understood the Day of the Lord and the Churches relationship to it (Open your bible to I and II Thessalonians).
Paul was well aware of the Lord’s teaching in the Olivet Discourse, which was the basis for his eschatology, that being the posttrib position. One cannot make the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) pretrib without twisting and spiritualizing the text.
In I Thessalonians 1: 10 Paul mentions that the Church “is waiting for the Lord Jesus from heaven, whom God raised from the dead and has delivered us from the wrath to come.” The Greek word for wait is the root word – meno, which means to stay, remain or abide. The idea is to remain in place until Jesus comes. The question is; when does Jesus come?
The word, wrath is “orge” in Greek, which means violent passion or intense anger, and has the connotation of punishment – to punish with hot anger! The words, to come, are “erchomai” in the Greek and both words “wrath” and “to come” have the definite article, which points to a particular action not just a general condition. Therefore, in the Greek it actually says, “delivered us (The Church) from the coming of the wrath”.
From this understanding of the Greek, we know Paul was instructing the young believers at Thessalonica (First Church Paul founded) that a particular day of wrath was coming upon the world, not just a general kind of wrath. They also knew Paul was not speaking of a future period of punishment in hell or the lake of fire because he would have used a different word than “orge.” If he had hell or the Lake of fire in mind, he would have plainly told them and used the Greek words Hades (hell) and limneen tou Puros (lake of fire).
Paul was not going to confuse these young impressionable believers nor give them a false hope in a pretrib rapture. It is obvious that Paul clearly associated the Second Coming to the Day of Wrath, which we have already seen is the same day as the Day of the Lord. The point is these Thessalonians knew from Paul’s teaching that the Church would not experience wrath on the Day of the Lord, which occurs after the seven-year tribulation, but neither did they believe they would escape the 70th Week.
What confuses many believers about the rapture and tribulation, which Paul taught in his letters, is failing to make the connection in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 with 5:1-9. When the Bible was written, it was not divided into chapters and verses and oftentimes the context should continue uninterrupted. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 5:1-9 is one of those situations.
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 is one of the primary passages pretribbers use to prove their position. However, the passage by itself does not teach the timing for the rapture, but the fact of resurrection and rapture. Pretrib doctrine attempts to make the coming of the Lord to the AIR and the return of the Lord TO THE EARTH separated by the seven-year tribulation. Nowhere in this passage does it say that or even hint that is the case. Pretribbers, as you will discover if you study in detail their theology, are guilty of stretching the truth and allegorizing the text to make it fit their charts and outlines. They love their charts and time lines and I used to mesmerize the saints with my own overheads and chalk talks.
After telling the Thessalonians that living believers are going to be caught-up (raptured) along with the resurrected dead believers, he next tells them in Chapter 5:1 that it is not necessary to explain the “times” (Greek chronos meaning chronology) and the “seasons” (Greek kairos meaning exact time sequence), FOR THEY UNDERSTOOD THAT THE DAY OF THE LORD would come as a “thief in the night” to the unbelieving world, but not to the Church.
PRETRIB MISINTERPRETS THE “THIEF IN THE NIGHT” AS PROOF OF THEIR POSITION
Here is where pretrib attempts to build another case for their position. They teach that the phrase, “thief in the night” refers to the secret rapture – the catching away of the Church to heaven, but the very next verse (verse 3) explains the meaning of the thief in the night [Again the bible is always its best commentator]. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child and they shall not escape.”
Who is saying Peace and Safety and what people experience sudden destruction? Obviously, it is not the Church for sudden destruction is not coming upon the Church if the rapture has occurred. Then the “thief in the night” warning must be for another group of people. Look at Revelation 16: 15-21:
“15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. 17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightning’s; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”
It is clear, those to whom the Lord is coming as a thief are the unbelievers and followers of the Beast (Antichrist). Notice also WHEN the Lord comes as a thief in the night – at the Seventh Vial which is synonymous with the Seventh Trumpet and is the Day of the Lord that immediately follows the tribulation (Matthew 24: 29-31). This is the time Paul was referring to in I Thessalonians 5:1-9. Since he had already taught them this, it was not necessary to re-teach them.
WHEN DO UNBELIEVERS SAY “PEACE AND SAFETY” – BEFORE THE TRIBULATION OR AFTER?
Why are these unbelievers saying Peace and Safety? Pretribbers would have us believe that the world is saying this right before the seven-year tribulation, but what is the condition of our world today? It is not one of peace and safety, but of terrorism and uncertainty – of war and rumors of war (Matthew 24: 6). The context of Matthew 24 (Olivet Discourse) does not teach a peaceful world leading up to the tribulation, but one of trouble and unrest – “All these things are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). Whom are we going to believe, Jesus or some man-made theory?
Revelation gives us the answer. Look at Revelation 11: 1-14, which provides the information about the Two Witnesses (Note: Revelation is not written in chronological order, even though pretrib teaches that it is). Back up a few verses, and notice in Revelation 10:11 “that John is told he must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”
Beginning in chapter 11, John is instructed to give a second revelation of the end times, which is the same as that given in chapters 4-10 but with added detail. The book of Revelation is divided into two main parts having to do with tribulation; the first part – chapters 4-10 and the second part – chapters 11-19. Chapters 1-3 deal with the time of John’s day and chapter’s 20-22 deal with the future after the millennium or the eternal state.
The Two Witnesses begin their ministry at the mid-point of the tribulation – the time when Satan is cast out into the earth. How do we know this? In Revelation 11:3, it says the Two Witnesses must prophesy for 1260 days, which is the same as 42 months and 3 ½ years. Also, in Revelation 12: 7-17, the dragon (Satan) is defeated by Michael the archangel and is cast down to the earth with his angels. When he comes down to earth, he persecutes “the woman” for a time, times, and a half time or 3 1/2 years. In addition, in Revelation 13: 5 we are told the dragon (Satan) and the Beast (Antichrist) reign for 42 months. This 42-month period is the Great Tribulation, which Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24: 21.
Further, we know from Revelation 11:2 that Jerusalem will be subjected to the rule and power of the Beast System (World government) for 42 months – “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”
If you wonder what is going to happen with the peace process in the Middle East, right here is the answer. There is coming a day when Islam will control the temple mount and the city of Jerusalem for the Antichrist will be confederate with Islam. For that reason, some believe the False Prophet will be an Arab, but he won’t be. Both he and the Antichrist will be an apostate Jew. (??)
Now notice in Revelation 11: 7-13 that Satan, working through the Antichrist, kills the two witnesses and their dead bodies lie in the streets of the city called Sodom and Egypt, which figuratively speaking is Jerusalem. When they are killed, the people who have followed the Beast REJOICE AND SEND GIFTS TO ONE ANOTHER. It is at THIS TIME that the world begins to say, “Peace and Safety” thinking that the worse is behind them, not knowing that SUDDEN DESTRUCTION COMES UPON THEM – THE WRATH OF THE LAMB ON THE DAY OF THE LORD IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS. This is at the time of the Sixth Trumpet and Sixth Vial, which ends the tribulation period.
Another reason we know that the world is saying “Peace and Safety” at the end of the tribulation and immediately prior to the Day of the Lord is that the Two Witnesses must prophesy for 42 months before they are killed and resurrected and their ministry begins at the mid-point of the 70th Week. The Two Witnesses are obviously going to take part in the First Resurrection as I believe they are resuscitated (After 3 ½ days), at the time of the Seventh Trumpet.
THE THIEF IN THE NIGHT – DELIVERANCE OR JUDGMENT
As we have seen, Jesus says His coming will be like a “thief in the night” to a world unprepared for Him. In I Thessalonians 5: 4, Paul says, “But you brethren are not in darkness that that day (The Day of the Lord) should overtake you as a thief.” It cannot be any clearer than this that the Church is not going to be surprised by the Lord’s coming; The saints will be prepared and looking for it.
The question is what will prepare them for the coming of the Lord? In the context of what the Lord Jesus taught in Matthew 24 and what the apostles taught, the obvious answer is the events of the tribulation period. Believers will be reading the Word and understanding from world events, especially when the abomination of desolation occurs, that the coming of the Lord is near – “right at the very doors” (Matt. 24:33).
In II Peter 3: 10, Peter says, “the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works therein shall be burned.” Pretribbers attribute this verse and the verses following to the period after the millennium, but if that were true, then Peter would be teaching something different from what both Paul and Jesus taught. It is clear from verse 10 that the Lord comes as a thief in the night on the Day of the Lord, which occurs immediately after the tribulation (Matthew 24: 29).
Pretrib doctrine is seldom consistent, and they make the phrase, “thief in the night” to have two connotations; one occurring before the tribulation and one occurring after the millennium, but the bible is very clear that the reference is always in connection with the Day of the Lord
Let’s examine II Peter 3:10-13 in the original Greek to get a better understanding of the passage:
“10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
The phrase shall pass away with a great noise means “to come near with a whizzing sound.” When I was in Vietnam, sometimes during a heavy bombardment of artillery, mortars, rockets, and bombs, the atmosphere would make a whizzing noise almost as if you could hear the atoms and molecules splitting and breaking apart from the intense heat. It was a frightening sound. On the Day of the Lord, the natural environment is going to undergo a change unlike anything the inhabitants of the earth have ever witnessed.
Next Peter says, “The elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth and the works that are in the earth shall be burned up.” The Greek word for “elements” means an orderly system or arrangement, which could mean a reference to the orderly revolution of the stars, planets and/or the earth’s galaxy. It could also be a reference to all the man-made objects in space such as satellites, space stations, etc. The phrase “to melt with fervent heat” means to loosen by setting on fire, and the meaning of the phrase, “the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” implies all that man has erected on earth shall be burned down to the ground. Therefore, it does not teach a total destruction of the globe, but implies the works of man on earth and in the heavens are burned to the ground. Thus, the heavens and earth are purged of that which fallen sinful humanity has corrupted.
Isaiah 24:5-6 says, “5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.”
While the seven-year tribulation will bring great death and destruction upon the earth, there will not be a total judgment affecting the entire earth until the Day of the Lord. When the tribulation is over approximately one-half of the world’s total population will be killed. The aftermath of Armageddon alone will be millions of dead bodies concentrated in the Middle East, but even after the vultures have eaten the flesh of rotting corpses, their skeletons will remain. Before the Lord descends to the earth, there will be a purging by fire to cleanse the earth of the wicked works of man. Amazingly, according to Isaiah 24:6 there will be a few who survive that judgment.
Revelation 6: 12-17 mentions this same phenomenon occurring at the Sixth Seal (the Sixth Seal, the Sixth Trumpet, and the Sixth Vial of wrath all speak of the same events with added detail – “the sun is darkened and the moon turns blood red; the stars fall to the earth; the heavens depart as a scroll [rolled up like a scroll]; and every mountain and island are moved out of their places).” These cosmic signs in the heavens are a warning to the inhabitants of the earth that the Day of the Lord is about to commence with the Seventh Seal, which opens and completes the trumpet and bowl judgments.
All of this takes place after the tribulation and before the millennium begins, not after the thousand-year reign. When the thousand years have ended, Satan is permitted to rebel one last time and then is cast into the Lake of Fire. Then the earth will be delivered of all sin and wickedness. The New Jerusalem will come down to earth where God will tabernacle with men throughout eternity. In my opinion, the New Jerusalem is presently in the third heaven where God’s throne resides, but will one day move to planet earth.
In II Peter 3:13, the Greek word for new is “kainos” and has the idea of freshness rather than something completely new. Although it is a crude illustration, it is similar when you remodel an old house inside and out so that it appears to be brand new in appearance, but in actuality, it is the same house just freshened up. This is the idea of the Greek word for new heaven and new earth - a refurbishing or renovation.
Therefore, we understand that the Day of the Lord is synonymous with the coming of the Lord as a “thief in the night” to an unprepared and unsuspecting world and that it will be the time when the heavens and earth are purged with fire. The Lord is not coming to the church as a “thief in the night.”
In addition, the Lord’s coming is NEVER associated with Post-Millennialism (After the millennial reign). Therefore, for pretribbers to associate Peter’s teaching about the “thief in the night” and the judgment of the earth to be Post-Millennial, would circumvent the teaching of both Jesus and Paul who clearly taught the Lord’s coming as a thief is Post-Tribulational, not Post-Millennial.
Further, when pretribbers interpret the “thief in the night” as symbolic of a thief breaking into a house and stealing only the finest jewels, they do so using the allegorical method of interpretation, which ignores the greater context – that associated with judgment upon an unprepared world, not the alert watching Church. The concept of a thief in the Scriptures we have looked at clearly implies judgment and not deliverance. When the church is raptured, it will be a watching vigilant Church that has experienced the events of the tribulation and are anxiously waiting for the Lord’s return. While the tribulation will certainly be a time of purging for the Church (Judgment must begin at the household of God – I Peter 4:17), it will not be the judgment of the Lamb’s wrath on the Day of the Lord.
Returning to I Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, “that God has not appointed us (The Church) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” The subject of the chapter is the Day of the Lord (verse 1), which we have already proved that it occurs after the tribulation and is not the entire seven-year tribulation.
THE DAY OF THE LORD IS THE WRATH OF THE LAMB, NOT THE SEVEN-YEAR TRIBULATION
We previously covered the meaning of “orge” (wrath), so it is not necessary to repeat the definition. The Greek word for “appointed” means to prostrate or lie down horizontally. Taken together they convey the idea of a strong wind completely leveling to the ground a forest of tall trees - that which was tall and erect now lies horizontally and prostrate on the ground. This wrath implies severe punishment to the inhabitants of the earth, not the future judgment of the lake of fire. As mentioned, Isaiah 24 speaks of this wrath of God upon the inhabitants of the earth.
We are given a further revelation of this wrath and when it occurs in Revelation 6: 16-17:
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
The Sixth Seal is synonymous with the ending of the tribulation and the coming of the Day of the Lord and/or the Lamb’s wrath. Notice in verse 17 it says, “the great day” of His wrath is come.” Day is “heemera” in Greek and literally means the time between dusk and dawn or between evening (12 hours of night) and morning (12 hours of day) or one day. Therefore, the Greek defines the Day of the Lord and/or the Day of the Lamb’s wrath as a single day and agrees with Zechariah 14:7. One thing about the Word of God it is always consistent. It is man who vacillates.
The Word for salvation in I Thessalonians 5:9 is “soteria,” which means deliverance or rescue. It is not used in the sense of salvation, but in the sense or being delivered or rescued out of great peril. The Day of the Lord will be both a day of rescue for the saints and a day of great peril for unbelievers.
Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians is a continuation of the first letter, and in Chapter 2 the subject is again the Day of the Lord as it concerns His coming and the gathering of the saints unto Him.
II THESSALONIANS 2 PROVES THE RAPTURE IS POST-TRIB
Chapter 2 of II Thessalonians is one of the most important passages in all the bible concerning a proper understanding of the rapture and it has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by pretribbers.
“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 the Lord 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; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 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: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Verses 1 and 2 define the subject as having a two-fold meaning - (1) the coming of the Lord and (2) our gathering together unto Him. The Greek word for coming is “parousia,” which means the personal appearance of the Lord. When He comes in His Parousia, He is recognized as the God man. His appearance will be much like what the disciples saw after the Lord was resurrected. As the disciples watched the Lord ascend back to heaven, the angels said, “why do you men gaze into heaven, this same Jesus that you see going away will come again in like manner (Acts 1:11).
Notice also in Verse 1 that Paul uses the conjunction “and” (Greek kai), which is a primary participle that connects the coming of Christ to our gathering together unto Him. THE LORD’S COMING IS NEVER SEEN APART FROM GATHERING HIS BRIDE AT THE SAME TIME.
Notice also that Paul uses the double reference - our gathering together. Why does he use the double reference? He could have said that when Christ comes we are gathered unto him. Obviously, Paul is referring back to his first letter, (I Thessalonians 4:13-18) when he gave the revelation that living believers would be caught up together with the resurrected saints. By using this terminology, the Thessalonians understood Paul meant that both dead and living saints would be caught up at the same time ON THE DAY OF THE LORD AT THE FIRST RESURRECTION.
Pretrib teaches that there are several phases to the First Resurrection; one for the church, one for the tribulation saints (Who are they?); and one for Israel. The Bible is consistent that the First Resurrection is ONE EVENT, which takes place after the tribulation (Revelation 20:1-5). There is no biblical evidence for a several phase resurrection as pretrib teaches.
As I have stressed, pretrib arrives at their position by allegorizing and spiritualizing the Scriptures, not by the consistent literal grammatical approach. Much of pretrib theology is based upon assumptions that are more man-made theories and speculations than sound biblical exegesis.
In addition to the subject of the passage, it is important that we understand the occasion, which prompted Paul to write this second letter to the Christians in Thessalonica? He tells us in verse 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 the Lord is at hand.”
It is clear that a letter was circulating among the Churches teaching that the Day of the Lord was imminent and they understood what that day meant – the wrath of the Lamb. Therefore, they questioned Paul’s earlier teaching that the Church was not appointed to wrath (I Thessalonians 5:9). This obviously caused them some confusion and great concern.
If you go back and read the first chapter of II Thessalonians, Paul tells us the early Church was experiencing severe persecution and tribulation (verse 4). At that time, many believers were being tortured and put to death by the Romans and the apostate Jews, so they naturally thought they might be enduring the day of the Lamb’s wrath. Such thinking proves that in spite of what Paul had taught them, these young believers did not fully understand the concept of the tribulation period or the Day of the Lord’s wrath. This points to a problem modern saints are often guilty of – believing our experiences or what someone has said rather than the Word of God. The church is inundated with this kind of thinking today and is inviting all kinds of heresies into the body of Christ – something the little book of Jude predicts.
The word “beseech” in Verse 1 (KJV) implies urgent interrogation, e.g., Paul was strongly urging them to believe what he had previously taught them and not be moved by a false report.
PAULINE THEOLOGY DESTROYS THE PRETRIB DOCTRINE OF IMMINENCY
One of the cardinal doctrines of pretrib is the “doctrine of Imminency,” which teaches the Lord could have returned to rapture the church at anytime after His ascension to heaven. That is a false doctrine, which cannot be supported by the Scriptures, let alone history.
The KJV correctly translates the Greek word “enesteeken” to mean, is at hand or imminent. The NASB and the NIV both translate it has already come, but that is not the correct meaning of the word. The better translation implies that they thought the Day of the Lord was imminent because of the false teaching and their personal experience. Here we have an example of the modern versions using a thought for thought method of interpretation rather than a word for word translation. When a thought for thought method is used, many times you end up with just that – man’s thought, not God’s. The old KJV proves reliable here.
With one stroke of his pen, Paul nicks in the bud the false doctrine of immanency when he says in verse 3: “Let no man deceive you by any means [that the Day of the Lord is imminent]: for except there come a falling away first and that man of sin be revealed, the Son of perdition [that day has not arrived nor is imminent – emphasis implied]; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you [in person], I told you these things?”
How pretribbers make these verses teach a pretribulation rapture is beyond me for they teach just the opposite. Notice what Paul is clearly saying: The Day of the Lord and our gathering together unto Him (both resurrected and raptured saints) will not take place until there has first been a falling away. The Greek word is “apostasion” (apostasy) with the definite article, meaning that this is no ordinary falling away, but a great end time rebellion in departing from the truth. Well, what is the truth? Jesus succinctly told us in John 17: 17 – “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your Word (The Word of God) is TRUTH.”
The Word of God is the plumb line by which all truth and falsehood is measured. Any word uttered by man that is not backed up by the principles of Scripture is a lie and not the truth. By that definition, we see many lies in our world today - about every time a politician opens his or her mouth. As the Scriptures say, “Let God be proven true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
When we read further in II Thessalonians 2, Paul tells us in verses 10-12 what the end-time falling away is:
“10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
In Verse 11, the definite article is used with “lie.” Therefore, it should read THE LIE. What is the lie? The end time falling away involves a worldwide rejection of the truth that Jesus is God and the only way to obtain salvation. New Age teaches that man himself is a god. Therefore, he doesn’t need Jesus or the gospel because he is not a sinner, but a god that just needs the proper enlightment to achieve nirvana. This New Age teaching already is running rampant in our world, especially among the academia and religionists.
The end time falling away is already occurring, but it will get worse as all nations will make it a crime to preach the “one way” gospel. Fundamental Christianity will not be tolerated and it will happen right here in the United States of America [For those who have eyes to see, it is already here]. Jesus said in Matthew 24: 14 “That the gospel would be preached into all the world for a witness among the nations, and then the end would come.”
For 2000 years, the gospel has been preached, but the doors of evangelism are rapidly closing around the world. Recent reports show that Christianity is growing faster than all religions, even faster than Islam, but not without a price and not without strong opposition. Many nations, including the European Union, have passed laws making it a crime to share the gospel. In addition, in many Muslim and communist countries, Christians are being tortured and put to death. This is one of the reasons I know the end is near; the gospel window is closing and the number of Christian martyrs is increasing.
Returning to the passage in II Thessalonians 2, Paul tells the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord is not imminent until there has first been an end time rebellion to the truth and the revelation of the man of sin – the Antichrist. Who is the man of sin and when is he revealed? The answer to those questions sheds further light on the rapture.
The Greek text says the man of sin will come from the human race (Greek anthropos – a man) and that he will have no respect for man or God’s law (sin is “anomos” – without law). He is also called the “Son of Perdition,” which means he will be controlled by Satan and claim deity for himself when he sits in the temple in Jerusalem. I do not have time in this article to share my beliefs on who the Antichrist may be, but I will tell you that I think he will come from one of the major religious cults that is known to worship Lucifer – Freemasonry. (??)
TEMPLE OR SHRINE?
A controversy among some theologians and evangelicals is whether or not there will be a physical temple in Israel or if the meaning of II Thessalonians 2: 3-4 is a spiritual temple. For those who do not believe it refers to a physical temple, purport that the Antichrist is the Harlot apostate system that sits among Christendom pretending to be God, such as the Pope who as the Vicar of Christ, rules over a vast number of not only Catholic subjects but a large number of nations as well. That is partly true. The other reasoning that the Antichrist is not a real person, and therefore does not sit in a physical temple in Jerusalem has to do with two Greek words for temple - hieron and naon. Having studied the biblical languages in seminary and continuously for 38 years I am well aware of the Greek meaning of the entire passage of II Thessalonians 2 having taught it for many years. There are a minimum of 8 rules of Greek that must be applied to the nouns and verbs in the Greek text to arrive at the accurate interpretation.
In the Greek language, the nouns and verbs have a primary, secondary and a tertiary declension. The endings of Greek nouns and verbs determine the contextual meaning. One thing you learn in a formal Greek class is how to decline a Greek word as well as how it is used in the immediate and remote context. Because of having a lack of formal training in the biblical languages (some think themselves Hebrew and Greek scholars because they have a Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words; while that is a good Bible aid, it is far from being an exact grammatical manual of Hebrew and Greek word meanings) they fail to interpret the proper meaning of hieron and naon.
In Matthew 24:1-2, hieron is used twice and refers to the entire temple area not just the temple proper as “the sacred place.” The temple Jesus left was a physical structure by the fact the disciples pointed out the buildings to Him. The original temple area was much larger than what we see today in the Middle East and had many edifices, not just the three compartment chamber of the temple proper. There are several Greek words that mean "sacred," but as used in Matthew 24:1-2, hieron means the entire temple area including the courtyard for the women and Gentiles. Originally, the Solomonic and Herodian temple areas were a very large place.
The point is, hieron, as used in Matthew 24 in reference to the temple compound was a physical structure containing the temple proper, the courtyards, and other secondary buildings such as the place for the temple priests, etc.
If you don't know any Greek and depend solely upon Strong's Greek definition for temple (naon) in II Thess. 2:4 meaning to dwell, you end up with the wrong interpretation. However, the root meaning of naon means “the central most sacred place of Hieron or the place in the sanctuary that is the most sacred, which in the hieron is the Holy of Holies, the naon and the innermost chamber. Josephus tells us that the Roman General Titus entered the hieron and the naon in 70 A.D. and placed his Roman Shield there as an act of dominance not necessarily desecration. In fact, he gave explicit orders to his army not to destroy either the hieron or the naon, but they did in order to fulfill Jesus words - that no stone would be left standing. (Luke 21: 6).
For Satan to have his Antichrist enter the naon would be the highest desecration to a Jew and for the religious world that will follow the Masonic Christ. By this act, he makes known to the unbelieving world that the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, was a fake and a phony and that he (Antichrist) is God. The word theon (God) is the general term for God and is the same word used in reference to the man of sin.
Church of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with this temple and
neither does the Lord Jesus. I strongly teach against both secular
and religious Zionism and warn evangelicals not to be deceived by
The Jewish Zionists led by the House of Rothschild's, the banker for Zionism, will build this temple with the help of his Kabbalistic Freemason brothers. Jerusalem will become the center of Idolatry and false religion as well as sodomy. The apostasy that will reign in end-time Jerusalem will create the perfect environment for the Antichrist to establish his throne and claim to deity. This is the great end-time apostasy Paul mentions, a temple erected on the temple mount in Jerusalem by apostate Jews and the Antichrist in defiance of New Covenant truth that Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant law of temple worship and blood sacrifice. Christ is not in the business of brick and mortar temples, but in building spiritual temples – the Church!
THE REVELATION OF THE ANTICHRIST MAKES A PRETRIB RAPTURE IMPOSSIBLE
Well, when does the revelation of the Man of Sin (Antichrist) take place? Several passages tell us, but we begin with what Jesus said in Matthew 24:15, 21:
“When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoso reads let him understand...For then there shall be great tribulation...” Jesus quotes from Daniel 9: 27: “...and in the middle of the week (seven-year tribulation) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate...” Jesus quoting Daniel tells us the revealing of the Antichrist occurs at the mid-point of the tribulation.
John, in the Revelation, also gives us additional information when the Antichrist rises to power:
“1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months” (Revelation 13:1-5).
Most prophecy experts agree that the tribulation is a seven-year period divided into two parts of 3 ½ years each; also expressed as 42 months, 1260 days each and a time, times, and a half a time. Some add an additional 3 ½ years such as Arthur Bloomberg, making it 10 ½ years and a few believe it will last only for 42 months.
The Bible is very clear that the 70 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy are 490 spiritual weeks of years with one week equal to seven years (483 years were fulfilled when Christ was crucified in 33 A.D.) In Genesis 29:27-28, Jacob asked Laban to give Rachel to be his wife, but Laban tricked Jacob into spending his honeymoon night with Rachel’s elder sister Leah instead. When Jacob protested, Laban told Jacob he would give Rachel to him after he fulfilled Leah’s week by working for him another seven years. Therefore, we see that one week equals to seven years.
From Revelation 13:5, we are told the Antichrist must reign for 42 months. This is the same period Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:15 when he quoted from Daniel 9:27. Therefore, we know the unveiling (public ministry) of the Antichrist will begin at the mid-point of the seven-year tribulation and last for 42 months. Actually, both Satan and the Antichrist will reign together during that period according to Revelation 13: 4 – “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?”
Most Bible commentators who write and teach about the tribulation, only speak of the Antichrist or the False Prophet and give little attention to Satan, but the Bible tells us that at the mid-point, Satan is cast out of heaven along with his angels, and comes down to earth having great wrath (Revelation 12:9, 12). From that time, Satan will be restricted to earth. By the way, Satan has his own body and does not need the body of the Antichrist contrary to what some teach. (I Corinthians 15: 39-40 – “39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another”).
Angels have bodies (celestial), including the angels who fell with Satan with one exception - Demons. Demons do not have bodies and seek to possess human bodies, animals, and material objects. They lost their celestial bodies when they committed an unnatural act described in Genesis 6 and God judged them [Don’t have time to go into that, but if you are interested, let me know, I will send you my article on it]. The point is that Satan inhabits the human spirit of the Antichrist and controls him through it. Someone today who is demon-possessed means demons have taken over the human spirit of their victim (the human spirit of fallen man is his sin nature).
If, as Paul teaches in II Thessalonians 2, that before the Day of the Lord arrives, there must FIRST come a great end time falling away, and the man of sin revealed at the mid-point of the tribulation, then it is IMPOSSIBLE for there to be a pretrib rapture of the Church.
As we have seen, Paul connects the coming of the Lord, and the Church being gathered unto Him as the same event occurring on the Day of the Lord. This is quite clear in II Thessalonians 2 and agrees with what Jesus taught in the Olivet Discourse – that His coming will take place immediately AFTER the tribulation in which He will summon His elect with the sound of a trumpet (Matthew 24: 30-31). This also rules out a midtrib rapture.
A BAD TRANSLATION OF THE GREEK TEXT FORMS THE BASIS FOR PRETRIB DOCTRINE
Before we look at the Church Trumpet, I want to show you something most prophecy teachers miss. Look at II Thessalonians 2: 8-9 – “8 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: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,...”
These two verses have been mistranslated, including the KJV. When you read this passage in the translations, it seems to say that the Wicked One in verse 8 is the Antichrist whom the Lord will consume with the spirit of His mouth and the brightness of his coming, even him (Antichrist) whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and lying wonders. However, that is not what the Greek text says. First, Satan is the only one the Bible refers to as the “Wicked One” (See I John 3:12 and 5:18). The Antichrist is never referred to as the wicked one. The Wicked One in verse 8 is Satan who will have his unveiling the same as the Antichrist. Second, the phrase “Even him” in verse 9 is not in the Greek text.
Therefore, verses 8 and 9 should read as follows:
“8 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, 9 whose coming is AFTER the working of Satan with all power and lying wonders.”
What do you notice in the above translation that is different from the KJV and other modern translations? First, the one who is coming in verse 9 is not Satan or the Antichrist, but the LORD JESUS. Secondly, when does the Lord come to deal with the Wicked one (Satan) – AFTER Satan works first. When does he work? When he is cast out of heaven and comes down to earth with his angels at the mid-point of the tribulation, he has power to reign for 42 months or during the period of the Great Tribulation – the last half of Daniel’s 70th Week. In addition, the Greek meanings of the words “consume” and “destroy” reveal that the personage in mind is Satan not the Antichrist.
The Greek word for “consume” has the idea of removal or to take away, not necessarily to kill even though that is one meaning of the word, but the primary meaning is to take away. The other word, “destroy” means to make one idle or to put out of business. This is exactly what the Lord does to Satan when He returns on the Day of the Lord. An angel comes from heaven and cast the devil into the bottomless pit where he will remain for a thousand years. Therefore, Satan who has been working on earth for 6000 years is put out of business. On the contrary, when the Lord comes, He personally deals with the Antichrist and the False Prophet throwing them alive into the Lake of Fire (They pass the Great White Throne Judgment and go straight to the Lake of Fire).
This supports what Paul mentions in Verse 3 - that the Lord is not coming on the Day of the Lord until after the Antichrist and Satan are revealed at the middle of the tribulation and sets up the Beast kingdom, which is the 8th kingdom according to Daniel and Revelation. Logically, if the saints are not going to be gathered unto the Lord until He comes on the Day of the Lord, then the rapture is definitely posttrib, not pretrib or midtrib.
We mentioned earlier that according to Matthew 24: 31 when the Lord returns after the tribulation, “He sends forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet to gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Pretrib teaches the elect in this verse is Israel and not the Church and that is another article. They also teach that the “Church trumpet” is separate and distinct from the trumpets of Revelation and sounds seven years prior; thus another basis for the pretrib rapture, but is that what the Bible teaches?
THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE “CHURCH TRUMPET” TO THE SEVENTH TRUMPET - AND THE LITTLE WORD “AT”
The “Mystery of God” is finished when the seventh and last trumpet sounds (Revelation 10:7) and that mystery is the formation of the Church – the body of Christ composed of both saved Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 3:3-10). It is a mystery to the Jews who still live according to the old obsolete covenant and to the Gentiles see no value in temples or covenants. Neither have any knowledge that God is today building a spiritual temple called the body of Christ – the Church!
I Corinthians 15:51-52 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18 both mention the rapture of living believers at the time of the First Resurrection preceded by the sounding of a trumpet. In fact, the theme of I Corinthians 15 is the resurrection of dead believers, not the rapture. However, while teaching the bodily resurrection to the Corinthians, Paul inserts the mystery of living believers being translated without experiencing death, which is the rapture. Resurrection and rapture go together as two parts of one event occurring at the same time – after the tribulation has ended. This is in contrast to pretrib, which teaches that the Church Trumpet occurs before the 70th Week begins and has no association with the Seventh Trumpet of Revelation, but does the bible support a pretrib Church Trumpet?
We know from Revelation 20: 4-5 that the First Resurrection takes place after the Mark of the beast is forced upon the world and the saints (Christians) are killed (beheaded) during the great tribulation:
“4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”
This passage alone proves that there cannot be a pretrib rapture for it is clear that the First Resurrection does not occur until after the Great Tribulation, which begins with the Mark of the Beast and ends when the last martyr of the Church Age is put to death and the fullness of the Gentiles have come into the church.
THE CHURCH AGE ENDS ON THE DAY OF THE LORD, NOT BEFORE THE TRIBULATION AS PRETRIB TEACHES.
Romans 11:25-26 places the “fullness of the Gentiles” at the time when the Deliver comes out of Zion – a reference to the Messiah, and we know He comes after the tribulation is over. The Bible does not support a two-phase First Resurrection as pretrib teaches. When the Scriptures are interpreted according to the consistent literal grammatical method, pretrib falls flat on its face.
If we have any doubt that the rapture is posttrib, Paul tells us exactly when the first resurrection and rapture will take place, but it is overlooked by most prophecy teachers because of not paying attention to one little word –“ AT.”
In I Corinthians 15:51-52 Paul says, “Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMP; for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Living believers cannot be raptured before the dead believers are raised first (I Thessalonians 4: 16), but the resurrection and rapture take place at the same time, one followed right behind the other. Both dead and living believers are summoned to the presence of the Lord by a trumpet sound and here pretribbers are partly correct. The Church Trumpet is distinct and different from the Seventh Trumpet Judgment, but the Church trumpet sounds AT THE TIME the Seventh Trumpet or Last Trump begins to sound. Strong’s Bible Dictionary defines the word “at” as follows: “(en); a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest (intermediate between NT:1519 and NT:1537); "in," at, (up-) on, by, etc.:”
Notice Strong’s Dictionary says the Greek meaning of “at “denotes fixed position in terms of place, time, or state.” Therefore, when Paul says that the Church is resurrected and raptured AT THE LAST TRUMP, he is saying that the Church trumpet sounds at the “fixed” or appointed time of the Seventh Trumpet. It is not the Seventh Trumpet for that is a judgment upon the world, but it sounds at the time God has fixed the Seventh Trumpet to sound.
The First Resurrection, which includes the raptured saints, occurs at the time when the Seventh and Last Trumpet begins to sound, for the Lord says when the Seventh Trumpet sounds, the Mystery of God is finished:
“7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:7).
We have already shown that the Mystery of God is the Church Age, and it cannot be any clearer that the Seventh Trumpet ends the Church Age. Therefore, when Paul says the Church is translated AT the last trump, he obviously means, the Seventh Trumpet of Revelation 10:7. When the Seventh Trumpet BEGINS to sound, the Church Trumpet also sounds and the saints are caught up to meet the Lord who has descended to the AIR (I Thessalonians 4: 17) on His way back to earth (He tarries in the AIR for one day – the Day of the Lord). There is another aspect of the Day of the Lord that is important to understand why it is a day so unique that it cannot be measured by earth time that I have written about before and will not discuss here.
Failing to understand the Day of the Lord in relation to the tribulation has caused much confusion among prophecy teachers and has produced the false pretrib doctrine. Once the tribulation begins and the pretrib advocates realize their error, their doctrine will go out the window and the true church will come into agreement on the end time. Based upon my understanding of the Scriptures and world history, I believe that day is sooner than later.
“EK TEREO” NOT A BASIS FOR PRE-TRIB
In closing, may I add that pretribbers have tried to build a whole theology of the rapture around the words “keep from” in Revelation 3:10. “Keep from” is ek tereo in Greek meaning to guard from and/or to keep a watchful eye on; in this case Christians. Pretrib teaches that “ek tereo” means to keep out of the tribulation by removal or rapture, but that is not the primary root meaning of those words.
The Greek conveys the idea of the Lord keeping His eye on His saints to guard them from the TEST/TRIAL coming upon the whole world - and what is that test? The difficult trial or test will be to reject the Mark of the beast, for whoever receives the Mark of the Beast in their right hand or forehead will be damned to the Lake of Fire.
The Lord’s keeping power will guard us from taking the Mark for the Lord knows how to deliver His godly ones out of temptation (II Peter 2:9). This implies supernatural care, for the temptation to take the Mark will be overwhelming, especially when it means you do not have the necessities of life – “no man can buy or sell except he have the Mark of the Beast, his number, or his name” (Revelation 13:18).
We are NOT TOLD the Lord will keep us from death, for the prophecy of Revelation is very clear that a great number of saints will be killed by the Beast during both halves of the tribulation. The Scarlet woman of Revelation 17: 6 is drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, and Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth:”
Those who will survive the tribulation period and raptured on the Day of the Lord will be few in number - a special chosen group by the Lord. We do not know if we are chosen to be survivors or martyrs, but whatever we are to be we must REMAIN FAITHFUL.
There is much more I could discuss if time permitted, but what I have shared in this article is some of what the Holy Spirit showed me in the Word of God that changed my theology from pre to posttrib. The rest is in my new book hopefully to be in print by the prophecy conference in August.
May God bless you in these last days - stay in the Word. Remember the words of our Lord Jesus, in Revelation 3: 8, 10 to the Church of Philadelphia: ...”You have kept my Word and have not denied My name...Because you have kept the Word of my patience (waiting on the Lord during the difficult days of the tribulation), I also will keep you from the hour of temptation that shall come upon ALL THE WORLD, to try them that dwell on the earth. Behold I come quickly: Hold fast that which you have, that no MAN takes your crown.”
God bless you.
Dr. Allen M. Barber, a Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church
Please note that the a pre-tribulation rapture is not the historic, orthodox Christian teaching. The view was made popular in the mid 19th century by John Darby, based largely on “visions” by a young Scottish woman named Margaret McDonald.
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”