THE RAPTURE AT THE END OF THE TRIBULATION
I believe that the rapture will take place after the great tribulation. Let us look at the question of when the rapture will take place. We read in Rev. 3:10, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth”. The “hour of trial” is of course, the tribulation. The question is, how will those who have patiently endured be kept from the tribulation. .
We read in Rev. 12:6, “The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days”. Rev. 12:13-14 is also helpful, “When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman (Israel) who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and a half a time, out of the serpent’s reach”. In my opinion, these passages answer the question of how believers will be kept from the tribulation. They will escape to “the place prepared for them”.
The reader may recall the words of our Lord as recorded in Matthew 24:15-20, “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel-let the reader understand-then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath”. The reason for all this is given in the next verse (verse 21) which reads, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world ….and never to be equaled again”.
It is clear that God has prepared a place to escape the tribulation. We may not know today where this place of refuge from the tribulation will be, but I am convinced that God will make it known to those who will need to know when the time is right. If the rapture were to take place before the tribulation, there would be no need of a place to which one must escape.
I believe that the passages in I Thessalonians should be taken at face value. I Thess. 4:15-17 reads, “According to the Lord’s own words, I tell you that we who are still alive who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a loud command….and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…”. When taken at face value, it is clear that Paul is saying that the rapture occurs at the time of the coming of Christ in the clouds.
I believe that the reason so many believe that the rapture will occur before the tribulation is that they confuse the tribulation with the day of wrath. That is to say, Scripture is clear that believers will not be subject to God’s wrath on the day of wrath, and the erroneous assumption is made that the day of wrath is the tribulation. So the argument is made that the rapture must be before the tribulation. But the tribulation is not the day of wrath, it is before the day of wrath. Let us examine and compare a few passages from God’s Word for the Scriptural evidence of that statement.
In order to understand the differences between the tribulation and the day of God’s wrath we must understand that the day of His wrath is called in many Scripture passages, “the day of the Lord”. How do we know that? We learn in Rev. 6:16-17 that the kings of the earth will say 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; for the great day of His wrath is come.…”. How will they know that the day of His wrath had come? We read in Rev. 6:12-13, “and I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a might wind”. In other words, the kings of the earth will know that the day of God’s wrath had come because they will see the cosmic signs spoken of in this passage. I am not suggesting that they will necessarily know the scriptures, but they obviously will know that these signs were from God, which is proved by their statement “the great day of His wrath is come”.
Let us consider the cosmic disturbances of the sun becoming black and the moon as blood and the stars falling to the earth. We read of these same cosmic events in Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come“. So these cosmic signs will appear before the day of the Lord and those of Rev. 6:18-17 will understand that they were the signs from God of the day of His wrath. Obviously, these signs will occur only once. That means that the day of God’s wrath is the same as the day of the Lord.
Now let us add one more passage to this study and we will see that the cosmic events will occur after the tribulation. We read in Matt. 24:29, “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“.*
So we have the following sequence of events.
1) The tribulation, followed by
2) The cosmic events that will occur “before”
3) The day of the Lord which is. the day of God’s wrath
*The bold type in the quotations were added.
For a more complete study of the differences between the tribulation and the day of God’s wrath please see the paper on that subject.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org