The Church In The 70th Week
There are some of our brethren of the pretribulation persuasion who urge us to believe that the Church will not be present here on Earth in the last week of this age. One of the reasons they adduce is the fact that the word church is not used in the Scroll of Revelation after Rev.3:22. They also persuade us to believe that the rapture took place in Rev.4:1. This interpretation is at best tenuous and has no textual support. On the other hand, evidence abound of the presence of the Church in the 70th week of Daniel. The Church is designated in some other ways in the Scroll of Revelation. Admittedly, the word Church is not used in the Scroll of Revelation after the third chapter, evidence abound in the Scroll of Revelation of the presence of the Church in the 70th week of Daniel. The reason why the word Church is not used in the Scroll of Revelation after the third chapter is because God is no longer concerned about nor deals with organized Christendom. God is now concerned and deals with individual believers. There is no such case of so perfect a local assembly in which every member is born again, where there are no agents of darkness. Every local assembly has its bad eggs. A local assembly is perfect to the extent that its leadership is born again, loves the Lord and the congregants, and strives in the word and doctrine, and prayers to ensure doctrinal purity, the spiritual soundness and the wellbeing of the members, instills discipline in the leadership as well as in the congregation.
On three separate occasions, the revelator John is invited to see a revelatory vision ( Rev.4:1; 17:1; 21:9 ). Does it mean therefore that the rapture occurred three times? There is no textual or exegetical basis for the claim that the rapture took place in Rev.4:1. Robert L. Thomas claims the prophesies of Rev.4-19 describe what will happen after the period of the Church Age has run its course. To attempt a divorcement between the Church Age and the events of Rev.4-19, as the pretribulationists do is without biblical justification. This claim is clearly based on bias. There is no textual nor exegetical basis to claim that the Church Age ended in Rev.3:22. There is no passage of Scriptures that makes such explicit claim. The argument that Rev.4-19 does not involve the Church is based on silence. This is called argument from silence.
We have pointed out that evidence abound in the Scroll of Revelation of the presence of the Church in the 70th week. The reference to wife in Rev.19:7 designates the Church. Besides, the Church is designated in some other ways in Rev.4-19. These are every tribe and tongue and people and nation ( 5:8 ); a kingdom of priests ( 5:10 ); fifth seal martyrs ( 6:9 ); a multitude which no man could number ( 7:9;19:5,6 ); bond servants ( 11:18; 19:2,5 ); our brethren ( 12:10 ); the remnant of her children who have the testimony of Jesus Christ ( 12:17 ); and saints ( 13:7,10; 14:12; 8:20,24 ).
The Seven Churches Of Asia
Our Lord Jesus is the author of the Scroll of Revelation. John was His amanuensis. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ ( Rev.1:1 ). It is not a letter by John, but a direct communication from the Lord Jesus to the Christ. The Apostle John was just the scribe. The Greek word translated apocalypse means unveiling. It is the unveiling of Jesus the Christ not the Revelation of John the Divine.
The Scroll of Revelation is a book of eschatology. The English word eschatology is compound word derived from the Greek words eschaton and logi which mean last things. Therefore the letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor have prophetic significance. Were it not so, it would be out of synchrony with the expressed purpose of the Scroll of Revelation which is to unveil our Lord Jesus the Christ in His coming glory.
The seven churches were actual churches that existed at that, in the First Century in Asia Minor. Seven of these churches were chosen out of many other local assemblies in existence at that time. That the problems addressed in these churches applied to these churches at that time is very obvious. That these same problems may also relate to every local assembly at any point in time during the Church Age is equally valid. Although some biblical scholars demur, this is the position of Charles Caldwell Ryrie.
” The seven churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3 were actual churches of John’s day. But they also represent types of churches in all generations. This idea is supported by the fact that only seven were selected out of many that existed and flourished in John’s time and by the statement at the close of each letter that the Spirit was speaking to the churches.” ( vv. 7-11, etc )
Would it be proper to tell the churches in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, China, Northern Nigeria, and Indonesia which are persecuted in the present time that these letters have no relevance to them? I trow not. My submission therefore is that although these were actual local assemblies in existence in John’s day, the doctrinal issues and practical problems addressed in these churches may be applied to any local assembly at any point in time during the Church Age.
There are some biblical scholars that relate these churches to different eras in the Church Age. Gary Cohen gave an overview of these eras. The seven eras are generally given approximately as follows:
Ephesus: The Apostolic Church ( 30-100 AD )
Smyrna: The Persecuted Church ( 100-313 AD )
Pergamum: Th State Church ( 313-590 AD )
Thyatira: The Papal Church ( 590-1517 AD )
Sardis: The Reformed Church ( 1517-1790 AD)
Philadelphia: The Missionary Church ( 1730-1900 AD )
Laodicea: The Apostate Church ( 1900- )
This view, although held by many competent scholars is fraught with some problems. There is nothing in the biblical text that indicates these churches represent seven different eras or stages in church history. It is an assumption, and therefore subjective. Besides, who is to determine the beginning and end of an era inasmuch as church history is not that clear-cut. Which church historian is the authority in these eras, and what dates are we to accept. The designations, Apostolic Church, Persecuted Church, etc are lobe-sided , stilted and tangential, and at best incomplete designations that do not totally conform to the content of these letters to the seven churches.
The proper understanding of the letters to the seven churches is that they have both near and far view applications. The issues raised in those letters referred to the churches in question. They also have a far view application in that they are a projection into the end times. This is a very common phenomenon amongst the prophets of Israel of whom our Lord Jesus The Christ is a perfect example. For example, when Daniel spoke of Antiochus Epiphanes who persecuted the Jews and desecrated the temple in 168 BC ( Dan.11:21-35 ), he also projected into the 70th week, speaking of the antiChrist who shall be the ultimate persecutor of the Jews and the defiler of the rebuilt Jewish temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem ( Dan.11:36-45 ). Our Lord Jesus did the same thing in His Premission Address to His disciples in Matt.10. He told them what to preach, the provisions to take, and the kind of response they would get from the people ( Matt.10:1-15 ). Then He projected without any noted intervention into the 70th week of Daniel to tell them what to preach, and that He will be with them, and the results to expect ( Matt.10:16-42 ).
In like manner, our Lord Jesus who is the author of the Scroll of Revelation chose the seven churches in Rev.2,3, from amongst many others in existence in Asia Minor at that time to speak of the conditions in these local assemblies. As we well know seven is the divine number of perfection and completeness. God knows the end from the beginning. In Revelation, divine revelation and programme for mankind is coming to a consummate end. These seven local assemblies are perfect illustrations also of the full-robed strength and weaknesses of the Church ( organized Christendom) in the 70th week of Daniel. The commonality evidenced by these seven local assemblies presented a platform and springboard to give warnings and admonitions to organized Christendom in the 70th week right up to the end of the Ages which is the point of transition from the present age to the age to come. These seven churches exhibited the same characteristics as organized Christendom in the 70th week of Daniel. Therefore the Apostle John the revelator was called upon to write the things which thou hast seen, the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter ( Rev.1:19 ). Were these letters to be given normative authority in the context of the 70th week, pretribulation rapturism will collapse. Therefore to preserve their pet doctrine, these letters must be denied normative reading in the context of the 70th week. Likewise also, the Olivet Discourse ( Matt.24:42-25:30 ) is denied normative reading and authority in the context of the 70th week, thereby denying the Church the critical warnings and admonitions given to her by the Lord in this most difficult period of her history.
When we consider the status of these churches, certain important facts will emerge. Firstly, there is a promise given in common to all seven churches. If they are overcomers, they will be rewarded. To the church at Ephesus, it is promised, ” To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” ( Rev.2:7 ). To the church of Smyrna it is promised, ” He that overcometh will not be hurt of the second death” ( Rev.2:11 ). To the church and Pergamum it is promised, ” To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone” ( Rev.2:17 ). In the ancient Near East as well as in the Roman world, a white stone was used in voting for the acquittal of one on trial. This implies that the overcomers will be give acquittal before God at Christ Second Advent.
To the church at Thyatira it is promised, ” And he that overcometh, and keepeth his works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” ( Rev.2:26 ). The word end here is an abbreviation of the phrase end of the ages. It is the point of transition of the present age, olam haze, to the new age, the age to come, olam haba. This point of transition begins at the breaking of the seventh seal way into the second half of the 70th week, not the commencement of it. It marks the starting point of the Day Of The LORD. It is concurrent with the appearance of the Son Of Man in the heavens, and the rapture of the Church. It is the consummation of this age. Here also, overcomers are promised power over the nations. It is evident that the saints shall reign with Christ for a thousand years. To have power over the nations implies that the saints shall reign over the nations with Christ in the Millennium. This shall occur at the expiry of the present age after God Almighty reclaims His rule over the Earth. This is an allusion to the promise made to the Son by God the Father in psalm 2:8,9 which shall be consummated at Christ’s second coming.
To the church at Sardis it is promised, ” He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment” ( Rev.3:5 ). White raiment signals righteousness. This is an unmistakable reference to the Church, the bride of Christ. John wrote, ” Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has mad herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints” ( Rev.19:7-8 ).
To the church at Philadelphia it is promised, ” Him that overcometh will make a pillar in the temple of My God” ( Rev.3:12 ). In the Roman world, a magistrate is honored by erecting a pillar in his name in a temple. The reference here is to the saints who overcome the horrors of the Great Tribulation by erecting pillars in their names in the Millennial Temple to be built by Christ Himself on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem ( Ezek.40-43 ). To the church at Laodicea it is promised, ” To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and Am set with My Father in His throne” ( Rev.3:21 ). To sit with the Father on His throne is to reign with Him. Christ as the Father’s representative in the earthly domain of His Universal Kingdom shall sit upon the throne in the Throne Room in the Fourth and Millennial Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem ( Zech.6:13 ). The resurrected saints shall reign with Him; for it is written: if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him ( 2 Tim2:12a ).
To overcome is to defeat the enemy, to vanquish the foe. It also means to be triumphant in difficulties, trials, and temptations. The context of the seven Churches is set in concrete; it is in the arena of the 70th week of Daniel, and the activities of Satan, his hordes of fallen evil angels, and the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist. Concerning those who are triumphant, it is written: ” And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lies unto the death” ( Rev.12:11 ). They did not shrink from death. In other words, they were willing to die for what and in Him whom they believe. They were willing to be martyrs. After all the events of the 70th week, John wrote, ” He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” ( ( Rev.21:7 ).
Secondly, the churches were told clearly that Christ’s coming is at the door. To the church of Ephesus it is written: ” I will come unto thee quickly” ( Rev.2:5 ). To the church at Pergamos it is written: ” Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly” ( Rev2:16 ). To the church at Thyatira it is written: ” hold fast till I come” ( ( Rev.2:25 ). To the church at Sardis it is written: ” If therefore thou shall not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” ( Rev.3:3 ). This is the same exact warning given in the Olivet Discourse ( Matt.24:42-44 ). Admittedly, the context as in the case of the seven churches of Asia is the 70th week of Daniel. To the church of Philadelphia it is written: ” Behold, I come quickly; hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thou crown” ( Rev.3:11 ). To the church at Laodicea it is written: ” Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” ( Rev.3:20 ). We can see here that if the various churches represent different periods of Church history, the Lord was misleading His Church about His Second Advent. Impossible one would say, and rightly so. A clear and uncluttered normative reading and understanding of these statements to the churches imply they occur in the context of the 70th week when they shall confront the antiMessiah and face the horrors of the Great Tribulation.
Thirdly, Christ said to the church of Ephesus, “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience” ( Rev.2:2 ). The Greek word translated patience here is huopomone which means endurance under affliction. The affliction is certainly the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist. To the church at Thyatira it is written: ” I know thy works, and love, and service, and faith, and thy patience” ( Rev.2:19 ). Once again patience is endurance under affliction which is the Great Tribulation. To the church at Philadelphia it is written: ” Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” ( Rev.3:10 ). Here Christ promised the church of Philadelphia that because they have kept His instructions concerning perseverance in the face of the Great Tribulation, the hour of temptation, He shall protect them in the midst of the hour of temptation which shall try all those who dwell on the earth. Without doubt, this hour of temptation is the Great Tribulation by the antiMessiah.
Clearly in the context of the Great Tribulation, Apostle John the revelator wrote: ” If any man is to go into captivity, into captivity he goes: if any man is to be killed with sword, with the sword the one shall be killed. Here is the patience and faith of the saints” ( Rev.13:10 ). As revealed in the fifth seal of Rev.6:9-11, there is a complement of believers to be martyred. This number is a divine secret. It is not revealed to us in the Scriptures. Besides, those to be martyred or led into captivity were chosen in eternity past. The believer in the 70th week who understands this concept will resign himself to his fate, after he has exhaustively observed Christ’s instructions concerning perseverance. Here is the patience and faith of the saints. Once again patience here is endurance under persecution or affliction which in the context of Rev.13 is the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist.
Fourthly, to the church of Pergamos it is written, ” I know thy works where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s throne is” ( Rev.2:13 ). Pergamos was the Centre of Roman emperor worship as well as the Centre of the worship of the Roman god Zeus Olympus. Roman citizens and inhabitants of the city were required to offer a pinch of incense to the statue of the emperor in the city square. Those who failed to comply were arrested. The image of the Olympian Zeus was in the likeness of a man. It was this same image that the Greek Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes, who was the prefigure of the antiMessiah brought into the Jewish temple built by the returning exiles. The image of Zeus was the bust of Antiochus himself. The phrase where Satan dwellest would indicate the worship of the image of the Beast, the antiChrist, who shall be indwelt and empowered by Satan ( Rev.13:2 ) which shall be imported into the rebuilt third Jewish temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem ( 1 Thess2:3,4 ).
Fifthly, to the church of Thyatira it is written: ” Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation” ( Rev.2:22 ). There is only one and only one Great Tribulaion referred to in the entire Scriptures. Reference to the Great Tribulation is found in five NT texts: Matt.24:21,29; Mk.13:19,24; Rev.7:14. In all these references, it is always used to describe the Great Tribulation that begins in the middle of the 70th week of Daniel associated with the breaking of the covenant of apostasy. In Daniel 12:1, it is described as Great Distress. The word distress and tribulation mean the same thing; in fact, the Greek word thlipsis which is usually translated tribulation can be translates as distress, persecution, or affliction. There is no doubt that the Great Tribulation referred to here is the Great Tribulation by the antiMessiah which begins with the breaking of the agreement with death at the midpoint of the 70th week ( Is.28:15-19; Dan.9:27 ).
Sixtly, to the church of Sardis it is written: ” And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith He that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars. I know thy works , and that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If, therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come to thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” ( Rev.3:1,3 ).
The church of Sardis has a reputation of being alive but was spiritually dead. It had all the paraphernalia of Christianity but did not have the life of Christ. For this church to stand before Christ justified, it has to wake up from its spiritual slumber, lest the Day of the Lord come upon it unawares, like a thief in the night. This is the same warning given to believers in Thessalonica to be prepared, who were expecting the coming of the Lord, ” For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” ( 1Thess.5:2 ). It is obvious from the urgent atmosphere prevalent in the letters to the seven churches that the context is the 70th week. An event as important as the coming of the Lord should have clear explicit biblical substantiation.
The Classification Of The Seven Churches Of Asia Minor
We have already pointed out that although the letters to the seven churches were addressed to the seven local assemblies in existence in Asia Minor in the First Century AD, they have normative authority to the churches in the 70th week of Daniel. Their near view application pertains to the immediate relevance of these letters to the seven churches. They also had immediate relevance and application to other churches in existence in Asia Minor at that time as well as other churches in existence in other places at that time. These churches were representative of other churches in existence at that time. Therefore their messages had normative authority and immediate relevance and applications to these other churches.
We have also noted that the messages to these churches have normative authority and applicability to any local assembly at any point in time in the church age. However, based on their location in the Scroll of Revelation which is entirely prophetic, and the emphasis on the second Advent of our Lord, the far view application of these letters would pertain to the Church in the 70th week of Daniel. Each of these seven letters appealed to ” He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches,” and contain certain promises made to the overcomers. The overcomers are evidently believers, bond-servants of Christ who refuse to bow to the image of the antiChrist in the face of the horrors of the Great Tribulation.
Believers are admonished to read and hear the words of this prophecy, and heed all that are written therein ( Rev.1:3 ). The entire setting of the Scroll of Revelation is the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus the Christ. ” Behold, He cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen” ( Rev.1:7 ). The Scroll of Revelation also closes with a reference to His Second Advent: ” He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen” ( Rev.22:20,21 ). From the beginning to the end, the entire Scroll of Revelation is prophetic, and is all about the return of the Lord. It is written: ” I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” ( Rev.22:16 ).
The implication of this statement is that the messages were not restricted to the seven local assemblies addressed in the letters but also others churches in existence at that time both in Asia Minor and elsewhere in the world, and anywhere else at any time right up to the end of the ages because any generation of believers could be called upon to enter the 70th of Daniel there to experience the horrors of the Great Tribulation. It is obvious that the Scroll of Revelation is addressed to the bond-servants of Christ in the Church, the faithful believer throughout the world who have ears to hear what the spirit of God is saying, more so those believers who will enter the 70th week of Daniel, encounter the antiChrist and face the satanically inspired persection and afflictions of the Great Tribulation.
Characteristically therefore, through the mediation of specially appointed angels of God, these letters were addressed to the local assemblies that bore their names ( Rev.2:1-3:22 ). Each message included a call to all faithful bond-servants of Christ who profess the name of the Lord from that time forward, more so those who enter the 70th week of Daniel to encounter the antiMessiah and experience his satanically inspired opposition to the saints of the Most High in the end times. All seven letters exhibit and perfectly exemplify the near and far views type of prophecy common in both OT and NT. The seven churches do not represent eras or stages in Church history, but rather exemplify various characteristics, doctrinal and ethical compromises prevalent in all periods of Church history, and will particularly characterize the condition of the churches in the 70th week of Daniel.
The seven Churches addressed in these two chapters of the Scroll of Revelation were in existence in Asia Minor- which is in modern Turkey- in the late 1st century AD. The seven churches addressed here were not the only local assemblies in existence in Asia Minor at that time. They were selected by Christ as representatives of seven types of local churches in existence not only at that time and in Asia minor but at all times and anywhere else throughout the Church Age. Therefore any local assembly at that time and all times in Asia Minor and anywhere else at that time and at all times will fall into one of these seven categories. Geographically these churches linked together formed a circle in Asia Minor. Does that tell us anything? Maybe these types of churches linked up together form a circle around the globe in the end times. None of these churches exist today. Some of the cities mentioned have survived till the present day. Some did not.
The scroll of Revelation is entirely prophetic. Whilst these messages to the seven churches had relevance to these local assemblies as well as other churches in other places in those days, they have normative authority at all times, and more so in the end times. In other words, there was a near view application in those days and a far view application in the end times.
The classification of the seven churches could be further simplified by classifying them in three groups, the faithful church as exemplified by the church of Philadelphia, the compromising church as exemplified by the church of Thyatira, and the dead church as exemplified by the church of Sardis. The faithful church is not promised exempt from the great tribulation but offered protection within the sphere of persecution, and finally eventual removal from the sphere of the great tribulation. The compromising church will go through the great tribulation in order to be purified. Majority of the churches, 4-5, fall into this category. It would however not face the wrath of God. The dead church will not suffer the great tribulation, having taken the mark of the beast, but would face the wrath of God.
If we view the three basic types of churches as a three-part continuum, the faithful church, the church of Philadelphia will be at one end, and the dead church, the church of Sardis will be at the other end. In between will be the compromising churches, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, and Laodicea, representing various degrees of compromise.
It is not every scholar that will put the church of Smyrna in the compromising category. Of all the seven churches, the least information is given about this church. Like the church of Philadelphia, it received no condemnation or rebuke. It was poor materially ( though rich spiritually ), and persecuted. The naughty issue with this church was the ” blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” ( Rev.2:9 ). Were these Jews within the church, or did they belong to a synagogue in the city that blasphemed the Name Of The Lord? If they belonged to a Jewish synagogue in the city that blasphemed the Name Of The Lord, then this church like the church of Philadelphia was faithful and uncompromising. If they were members of this church, then it tolerated blasphemers, and was therefore unfaithful and compromising. This writer is inclined to go with the first view. However, unlike the church of Philadelphia, the church of Smyrna received no unqualified commendation, and was not promised exemption from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all those who dwell on the earth ( Rev.3:10 ).
These churches also represent individual Christians. The faithful christian will be protected by God during the great tribulation because he or she hearkened to Christ’s instructions concerning perseverance in the end times. The compromising christian will be purified through the great tribulation but exempted from the wrath of God. Majority of christians fall within this category. A lot of us believers compromise in various areas. The dead christian shall be beast-marked. He or she shall escape the wrath of Satan, the great tribulation, but will face the wrath of God in the Day Of His Wrath. Although the messages are prophetic and refer to Christ’s coming in the end times, the parousia, the deeds of churches and individual Christians also demand immediate discipline despite far reaching consequences.
The Faithful And Uncompromising Churches
Of the seven churches, the church of Philadelphia is a spiritual jewel. The letter to the church of Philadelphia contained no condemnations or rebukes but unqualified commendations. The preciousness of this church stemmed from the fact that though it had little strength, kept God’s word and did not deny the name of the Lord despite persecution from those in the city who claim they were Jews, and were not, but do lie, who belonged to the synagogue of Satan ( Rev.3:8,9 ). Because of its faithfulness, Jesus promised this church victory over its persecutors, those who claim hey were Jews, and were not, but rather belonged to the synagogue of Satan: ” they will come and worship before thy feet and to know that I have loved thee.” Because of its evangelistic efforts, the church of Philadelphia was known as the church of the open door. This church is promised protection within the sphere of danger during the hour of temptation which shall come upon the world to test them that dwell upon the Earth. ” Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” ( Rev.3:10 ). We can learn what this patience is all about from the third angelic announcement.
” And the third angle followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the Beast and his image, or receive his mark in his forehead, or his hand, the same shall drink of the wrath of God , which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” ( Rev.14:9-12 ).
We can see that patience here relates to perseverance in the face of persecution by the antiChrist. The context is the second half of the 70th week of Daniel. The English word “keep” translates the Greek word tereo which has the basic idea of protection while within the sphere of danger, and “from” a bad translation of the Greek word ek which has the basic meaning of deliverance “out of” or “out from” within the sphere of danger. Taking the original Greek at its face value, God promised the faithful churches that because of their perseverance, He will guard and keep them while they are within the “hour of testing,” promising them eventual removal and safe deliverance “out from within” the sphere of great danger. Most biblical scholars are agreed that the hour of testing from which the faithful saints are promised protection refers to the Great Tribulation. The deliverance will come when the Great Tribulation is cut short or better still, amputated by the cosmic disturbances and eventual removal of the saints from the earthly sphere of danger and persecution at His appearance in the heavens ( Matt.24:22, 29-31 ). Then shall the Lord wreak relentless retaliation on the living wicked earth-dwellers who remain. ” The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” ( 2 Pet.2:9 ).
Because the faithful bond-servant of Christ has heard and heeded Christ’s instruction concerning perseverance, Christ will offer them protection within the sphere of danger during the Great Tribulation, and eventually remove them from the sphere of danger at His Second Advent. These faithful believers have heeded Christ’s instruction concerning perseverance. They have prepared hideouts and safe havens. They have made adequate provisions for food and other supplies. They do not need to go out to forage for food, and thereby be in danger of being caught and faced with choice of either receiving the Mark of the Beast or being coerced or coaxed into it. Because the Philadelphians have been faithful, Christ admonished them: ” Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” ( Rev.3:11 ). The reference to His coming can only be to His Second Advent inasmuch as the Scroll of Revelation was written more than half a century after His First Advent. Admittedly this message was addressed to the local assembly at Philadelphia, it has a far view application to the believers who enter the 70th week of Daniel to face the horrors of the Great Tribulation by the antiMessiah. The near view dealt with the historical church that existed when the Scroll of Revelation was written, which subsequently disappeared not long after afterwards. The far view deals with the faithful churches or believers who will enter the second half of the 70th week, encounter the antiChrist and his killing machine and face the horrors of the Great Tribulation.
The faithful church or better still faithful Christians are those who have heard and heeded Christ’s instruction concerning perseverance. They have kept Christ’s word and did not deny His name. They have also gone ahead and prepared ahead of time for the tough times that will come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the Earth. They have prepared safe haven, and provided adequate supplies for themselves and their loved ones. They are children of the day. They are not of the night or darkness ( 1Thess.5:4-8 ). They are prepared ( Matt.25:1-13 ), watchful ( Matt.24:42-44;25:13 ), faithful ( Matt.24:45-47 ), and fruitful ( Matt.25:14-30 ). They cannot be taken unawares by the Great Tribulation. They are not enamored with surfeiting and drinking ( Luk.21:34 ). They are sober and vigilant. Therefore God will protect them from within the sphere of danger by their obedience to His instructions concerning perseverance, and finally by taken them out from within the sphere of danger in the rapture on the day of the Lord ( Matt.24:29-31 ). Christ will give them a crown and great honor, and bring them to intimate fellowship with Him in His eternal kingdom ( Rev.3:11,12 ).
This writer is inclined to believe that the church of Smyrna is in the category of the faithful and uncompromising. This church faced severe persecution. A number of its members were martyred. Christ had to introduce Himself to them as the first and the last, and He that was dead and is alive, to reassure them that those of them who were martyred He will raise from the dead in that He was dead and is alive again. He has conquered death. As the first and the last, He has the final authority to the decide the fate of everyone. Though they die for His name’s sake, yet shall they live again in the resurrection. He that believeth in Me, even though he were dead, yet shall he live. He is the resurrection and the life ( Jon.11:24,25 ). The blasphemy of those who claim to be Jews and were not, but belonged to the synagogue of Satan, did not come from within the church. This church did not tolerate blasphemers. These Jews belonged to the local synagogue in the city of Smyrna that blasphemed the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ and induced and spearheaded the severe persecution faced by the Smyrnians from the civil authorities in the city. A number of them were martyred, imprisoned, and others blackballed out of business.
During the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist, a segment of believers from among the faithful and uncompromising shall arise, at the cost of great danger to their lives and property, not only to refuse the mark of the beast, but shall go about openly persuading others , believers and unbelievers, not to take the mark of the beast. These men and women shall chorus the proclamation made by the third horizontal flying angel: ” And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the Beast and his image, and receiveth his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which poured without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and the same shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name ( Rev.14:9-11 ).
Some of these believers shall be imprisoned for their testimony, and others executed for their witness for Christ. Christ encourage them to be faithful unto them, “and I will give thee a crown of life” ( Rev.2:10 ). These believers who shall be beheaded for their witness for Christ shall be raised from the dead to reign with Christ a thousand years in the Millennium. ” And I saw thrones, and they that 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( Rev.20:4 ).
The Dead Church
The church of Sardis had no commendation from the Lord, only rebuke or condemnation. This church consists mostly of spiritually dead Christians. They have heard the gospel but have no saving relationship with the Lord. The church had a reputation for being alive but was spiritually dead ( Rev.3:1 ). They had all the paraphernalia of religion. They used the right phrases and said the right things but they had not the life of Christ. They had the form of godliness but denied the power thereof ( 2Tim.3:5 ). They constitute the tares that grow amongs the wheat which in the early stages are indistinguishable from the wheat. They are those who hear the word, and anon with joy receiveth it. Yet hath no root in themselves, but endureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth on account of the word, by and by they are offended ( Matt.13:21 ). Some of them also are those who receive the seed among the thorns. They are those who hear the word: and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and they become unfruitful ( Matt.13:22 ).
This sort of believers will not hear Christ instruction concerning perseverance. They see no danger in the world. They will go along with the rest of the world and take the mark of the beast ( Rev.14:9 ). They are not prepared. They are not watching and waiting. They have not the life of God in them, so how can they be faithful and fruitful? They will be oblivious to the consequences of worshipping the beast or his image, or being branded with the mark of the beast. Many of them will do so without hesitation, while at the same time passing themselves off as good Christians. They will quickly conform to the world for the sake of survival. They cannot trust the Lord because they have not the life of God in them in the first place. They are not children of the day. They are of the night and darkness. Therefore when the wrath of God is poured out on the Satanic kingdom and its living wicked citizens, it will come upon them unawares, like a thief in the night.
Christ admonished them, ” Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy work perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received, and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shall not watch, I will come to thee as a thief, and thou shall not know what hour I will come upon thee ( Rev.3:2,3 ).
Well, if they can repent, watch, and practise what they have heard, then they could be faithful and fruitful. And this is the very reason for teachings of this kind, in order that the spiritually dead can wake up.
In local assemblies of this sort, there are a few that are truly born again, who have the life of God in them. These few names in Sardis who had not defiled their garment, shall work with Christ in white: for they are worthy ( Rev.3:4 ). These ones shall not accept to be branded with the mark of allegiance of the beast. They shall face the wrath of Satan, but they shall be exempt from the wrath of God ( 1Thess.5:9 ).
The Compromising Churches
By our classification, there are four churches in the compromising category. These are Ephesus, Thyatira, Pergamos, and Laodicea. We have also pointed out that some theologians may include the Church of Smyrna in the category of compromising and unfaithful churches. These are also representative of individual Christians with various areas of compromise, both doctrinal and ethical. Unlike the church of Sardis, these are not spiritually dead Christians. They are born again spirit filled believers. They are alive in Christ, but have not taken heed to live in His perfect will for their lives. The majority of professing Christian today fall into this category. These at best characterize the decaying church at large in the end times. These churches and individuals compromise in various areas. The various areas of compromise are lost of first love ( 2:4 ), fear of suffering and persecution ( 2:19 ), doctrinal defection ( 2:14,15 ), moral compromise and departure ( 2:20 ), spiritual deadness ( 3:1,2 ), inability to persevere ( 3:11 ), and lukewarness ( 3:15,16 ). These spiritual defects are prevalent today as in the first century churches more so in the churches that shall enter the 70th week of Daniel to encounter the antiChrist. These messages are God’s final exhortation to the Church, more so to individual Christians down through the first century to the end of the ages.This is God’s final appeal to all who will hear. Believers will do well to listen. He that has ears let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. Amen.
The church of Ephesus was a labouring church. They exhibited a lot of patience in bearing with those who were evil. They tried and tested those who claimed to be apostles but were not. They found them liars. Christ commended them: ” I know thy works, and labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and how thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted” ( Rev.2:2,3 ).
They had a lot of good deeds: missions to the poor and needy, the underprivileged, those who were imprisoned, the sick, the maimed, and those who were mentally challenged etc. For the sake of the name of the Lord, they had patience with evil men, false apostles and liars in the body of Christ. They never fainted. That was quite commendable. But they became too busy in the business of the Lord, and neglected their love towards Christ, the warm intimacy and fellowship they had with Him from the beginning. Being bombarded by the Devil with a torrent of evil men, false apostles and liars, and numerous outreaches to the poor and needy, they grew cold in their fellowship with the Lord. They became extremely busy in the works and labours for the kingdom, testing and proving those who were evil, the false apostles and liars. Their personal fellowship with God suffered, grew cold and became insipid and tasteless.
Christ rebuked them, ” Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent” ( Rev.2:4 ).
Our first deed is our love, fellowship and intimacy with Jesus. We are to be ” in love” with Him all the time. Our “affairs” with Him ought to get hotter and stronger with each day that passeth by. This is the baseline. Every other thing should be added unto it. It should also inform all other activities we engage in, whether secular, mundane or spiritual. We should not engage in activities just because they are good, and needful, or simply because we have the talent or resources. Our choices in every areas of our lives must by guided by His Spirit. We must be wise enough to get out of activities He has not commanded us. We should be involved only where He is involved with us, where He wants us to be involved. We cannot engage in every needful mission. We must remember we are human, and bedeviled with human limitations.
We are not omnipotent. We must not stretch ourselves thin. Our mortal bodies have elastic limit beyond which they undergo grain flow, beyond which they cannot spring back. Besides, there are only 24 hours in a day. We must let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof ( Matt.6:34 ). Our workload and activities must be such as permits us to have reasonable personal fellowship with Jesus; feeding our spirit with His word, meditating in the word, and listening to His silent voice. We must not allow our legitimate activities to crowd out His voice. Our first love for and first works with Him carry the utmost weight in the scale of heaven. All other activities and deeds may be needful, but they cannot give us the strength to go on. This strength comes from our intimacy with Jesus. Here the church of Ephesus erred greatly.
There were no gross sins in the church like abhorrent sexual immoralities as in the church at Corinth ( 1 Cor.5:1 ). There was no bickering over church leadership, over who is the greatest ( Matt.20:20-27 ). Probably they were servants one to another. There were no egomaniacs and megalomaniacs like Diotrephes who love the place of preeminence amongst the church leadership ( 3 Jon.1:9 ). There was no power tussle. There was no embezzlement of church fund. There was no diversion of funds or materials meant for the poor and needy for personal use and self-aggrandizement. Their activities were not mundane or frivolously secular. They simply were not up to par in their personal fellowship with Jesus. This is a deep fault line at the basement. If left unattended, it could lead to other gross misconducts.
If we are not doing well as Christians, we must examine our foundation. When a crack appears at the tenth or one hundredth floor, or any floor of skyscraper for that matter, architects do not look for the faults at those floors but at the basements. That is how it is with the Christian walk. Whenever there is a defect in our walk with God, we must look for the aetiology in our personal fellowship with God. That is our heart. And out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh ( Luk.6:45 ). From the heart proceeds evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within, and defile the man ( Mk.7:21-23 ). And we must guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life ( Prov.4:23 ).
The church of Ephesus must rekindle their warn fellowship with Jesus or else the light will peter out and die. To rekindle this fire of intimacy and fellowship with God, their activities must be curtailed. They must have more time to fellowship with God. What else could do this other than the fires of the Great Tribulation? Christ is coming for a glorious Church, without spot, wrinkle or blemish. All impurities must be purged out. Believers who fail to do this for themselves must go through the fires of the Great to be purged. If we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged. When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord in order that we may not be condemned with world ( 1 Cor.11:31,32 ).
Christ further commended them for their hatred of the deeds of the Nicolaittians. Nicolaittians comes from two Greek words, Nike meaning victor and Laos, meaning people. The Nicolaittians taught believers to compromise with the religious culture around them. This is similar to antinomianism. Antinomianism means there are no norms to which believers must conform. Antinomians teach that believers can compromise as long as they remain believers at heart. The heart and lifestyle of the believer must be in synchrony, otherwise one becomes a hypocrite and a false witness. The Ephesians soundly hated the doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitians.
The Church must be distinct from the world around her. We must not conform to the world around us. We must not fit into the mold of the world. We may not go to the world, but the world would like to come to us in the Church. This we must resist with all vehemence. Today we can see that the world is in the Church. A church in this state is not rapturable. She must be purified. She must be purged, and cleansed in the fires of the furnace of the Great Tribulation.
To show that this message is intended for all believers, Christ said, ” He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: To him that overcometh, will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” ( Rev.2:7 ). To teach therefore that this message has no relevance to the Church in the end time is absolutely false. Those who so teach are denying believers a useful resource for strength in the 70th week when they shall encounter the antiMessiah and face the horrors of the Great Tribulation.
Pergamos was a very wealthy city, it was given to wickedness. There were several pagan cults in the city which worshipped Athena, Aesclepius, Dionysus, and Zeus. Because the city was given to idolatry and wickedness, the spiritual atmosphere was adverse to effective Christian witness.
Christ commended their works. He recognized that their work was difficult in a city that was given to idolatry and wickedness, a city that was the seat of Satan. ” I know thy works , and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is” ( Rev.2:13a ).
Pergamum was the seat of Satan. The city boasted of the great temple of Aesclepius, a pagan god of healing worshipped in the form of a serpent, the symbol of Satan. In spite of the city being the seat of Satanism, the church in Pergamum held fast to the name of our Lord Jesus the Christ. They did not deny His name. This church faced persecution even to the point of martyrdom of some of its members. ” And thou holiest fast My Name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Stan dwellest” ( Rev.2:13b, 13c ). Despite the martyrdom of some of its members, this church held fast to the name of Christ. One of them named Antipas, a faithful believer was martyred. Antipas means against all. There are some biblical scholars that believe that Antipas is not the name of a person, but a representation of those faithful saints who were martyred in this city. Whether Antipas is the name of a person or not, one thing is obvious, the church of Pergamos faced persecution to the point of martyrdom.
Despite its faithfulness in the face of persecution and martyrdom, the church of Pergamos was one of the compromising churches in Asia Minor. The compromise was due to the work of false teachers. ” But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Niclaitanes, which thing I hate” ( Rev.2:14,15 ). There were some in the local assembly that held the doctrine of Balaam ( Jud.1:11; 2 Pet.2:5 ). There some biblical scholars that hold Balaam a false prophet. I demur. Balaam was a true prophet of God, but he was greedy. Balaam should not have answered the summons of Balak, but he went anyway, in spite of the fact that God did not approve. As ministers of God, we have no business going to preach where He did not send us, though there is promise of huge offering.
While there, God did not suffer him to curse the children of Israel according to the wishes of Balak. But he counseled Balak to hold sacrifices of the gods of Moab, invite the children of Israel to these sacrifices, let them eat and drink and relate sexually freely with their women, then their God would destroy them. This was an evil counsel, and it worked. There is no free lunch; someone foots the bill. And it was so ( Num.31:16 ). He gave this counsel in order to curry favor from Balak. He was covetous. He wanted the promotion that came from man. He could not patiently wait for God. He got his wishes but he paid with his life ( Num.31:8 ). True promotion cometh neither from the east nor the west, but God is the judge. He lifts one man up, and bringeth down another ( Ps.75:6,7 ).
The doctrine of Balaam therefore teaches that it does not matter to eat the sacrifice of idols and to commit sexual immoralities. But it does matter very much as we saw in the case of Israel ( Num.25:1,2 ). Twenty and three thousand Israelites perished in one day as a result of the counsel of Balaam, as a result of eating what is sacrificed to idols, and as a consequence of sexual immoralities . It is idolatry to eat what is sacrificed to idols. It is idolatry to commit sexual immoralities ( 1 Cor.10:8 ). We should not be idolaters as were some Israelites in the wilderness. They joined themselves to Baal, and ate the sacrifice of the gods. Neither should we be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, Th people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” ( 1 Cor.10:7 ). Excessive eating and drinking will lead to sexual orgies which are the trademark of Canaanite pagan worship. Surfeiting and debauchery as most young men do on Valentine’s Day is nothing other than the worship of Bacchus, the God of wine and sex orgies.
There were some in that local assembly who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaittians. It is compromise with the religious culture in one’s environment. The Church should not acculturate. It specifically breaks the first commandment. That is why God hated it.
“Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and I will fight against the with the sword of My mouth” ( Rev.2:16 ). The church of Pergamos was commanded by Christ to repent or I come against thee quickly, and fight against thee with the sword of my mouth. Coming quickly occurs five times in the scroll of Revelation ( 2:16,3:11;22:7,12,20 ). Rev.22:7, 12,20 refer to the parousia. Rev.2:16 and 3:11 refer both to immediate judgment before the Lord’s parousia as well as the parousia. Fight against thee quickly with the sword of my mouth is a metonymy of cause and effect. It meant the church would be taken away if repentance did not occur. The only way the Church can be purged of these doctrines is passage through the furnace of affliction. This affliction is nothing other than the Great Tribulation.
” He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving him that receiveth it” ( Rev.2:17 ).
The promise of blessing has near and far view applications. He that overcometh shall be given the hidden manna. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are did. Moses gave you not that true manna from heaven. I am the true bread that came down from heaven ( Jon.6: 32,48,49 ). The true manna is Jesus, the word of God who is our spiritual nourishment. He that overcometh shall be given a white stone with a new name written. Overcomers shall receive new names in heaven. Besides, white stones were used in voting for acquittal of the accused. He that overcometh shall never be condemned. Gem stones on which were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were worn in pouches on the breastplate of the high priest of Israel. He presented them to God when He appeared before Him in the Holy of Holies. In like manner, Jesus, our great High Priest shall wear our names on His breastplate for eternity
The church at Thyatira was commended by Christ for its work, love, service, faith and patience or perseverance, and the last to be more than the first. In other words the church at Thyatira was doing more as time went on unlike the church of Ephesus which did less. The believers in this church were growing spiritually, but they were also compromising.
The church at Thyatira was condemned for her tolerance of the teachings of a woman who called herself a prophetess. The Lord called this woman Jezebel. Jezebel was probably not her real name. Jezebel was a historical figure in the life of the nation of Israel. She was a Phoenician woman, the daughter of Ethbaal, priest and King of the Sidonians. The Sidonians like other Canaanites were idol worsippers. They worshiped Baal, the abomination of the Sidonians. She was married to Ahab the son of Omri, who later became king of the ten northern tribes. Omri was in league with Ethbaal, king of Sidon, who gave his daughter Jezebel to his son Ahab. In the ancients world, this kind of marriage was usually contracted to cement alliance. Jezebel imported Baal worship into Israel. Baal worship was characterized by bouts of sexual orgies and debauchery. It was a fertility cult. She corrupted Israel ( 1 Kin.16:31-33 ). They killed the prophets of God, and hounded Elijah to kill him. The church of Thyatira was vehemently rebuked by Christ for her tolerance of the teachings of this wicked woman. She taught them to eat meat scarified to idols as a form of worship to these idols and to engage in sexual immoralities. The immoralities were both physical and spiritual. Sexual immorality is idolatry. Both ways these believers were worshipping idols either through eating what is offered in sacrifice to these idols or sexual immoralities associated with the worship of these idols. This is the work of false teachers who are corrupting true believers to err from the path of doctrine and practice. They undermined the work of God by corrupting the people of God
Like many churches throughout the history of the Church, compromising churches nowadays are not careful about what is being taught, rather they prefer teachers who allegorize, rationalize, spiritualize, culturalize, and manipulate the word of God to suit their purpose. They do anything with the Scriptures other than taking it at its face value. The lesson believers in every age must learn, more so in the end times, is that true salvation is not in itself a protection against false doctrine. We must regularly be in the word of God, and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. Believers who do not practice these virtues fall easy prey to false teachers. Satan is a master deceiver and counterfeiter. He deceives with half-truths, and often using Scriptures out of context. In the temptation in the wilderness, he tried this on Jesus ( Matt.4:1-11 ). If he believed this strategy would work with Jesus while not believers especially in the end times who would face great danger, and therefore more vulnerable to deception, confusion, skullduggery, gimmickry, and manipulation.
Believers who think that biblical prophecies concerning the end times are in any way less than factual, or can only be understood allegorically, are more likely to fall easy prey to the machinations of Satan. Satan in his craftiness has already led some believers astray by hoodwinking them into believing that although biblical prophecies concerning the end times are factual, they do not in anyway apply to them. They trust they shall be raptured away several years before the antiChrist hangs out his shingles. Once these believers discover their error, it may be too late to avoid the full brunt of the Great Tribulation.
The Lord gave her space to repent of her immoralities, but she did not. She had a reasonable followership in the church of Thyatira. Because of her refusal to repent, Christ was going to judge her and her followers and converts. She and those that commit immoralities with her shall be cast into great tribulation. The judgment was both immediate and eschatological. Her offspring were going to be judged with pestilence, in order that all the churches shall know that Christ trieth the heart and the reins, and rewards every one according to one’s work.
True believers in compromising churches will not lose their salvation, but because of inadequate preparation ahead of time, they will endure immeasurable persecution and suffering. These believers will enter into the 70th week unprepared. Therefore they will endure the full brunt of the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist.
There are biblical scholars who urge us to believe that Christ’s warning to the church of Thyatira has no normative authority in the context of the 70th week of Daniel. But it is within the context of the Great Tribulation that Christ warned the compromising church of Thyatira. ” Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds” ( Rev.2:22 ). These false teachers will be cast into a bed of sickness because of their corruption of the children of God. The true children who have committed sexual immoralities through the teachings of these false teachers shall suffer Great Tribulation except they repent. Although they will not lose their salvation, they shall face the horrors of the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist in order to purify them from the corruption of these false teachers.
The Great Tribulation is referred to three times in the whole of the Scriptures. All three of them by Christ Himself. The first is the Olivet Discourse ( Matt.24:21 ). The second is in the letter to the Church at Thyatira that unless they get their doctrine and ethics straightened out, they will face the Great Tribulation ( Rev.2:22 ). The third is in relation to the multitude which no man could number, which came out of the Great Tribulation ( Rev.7:14 ). Every reference to the Great Tribulation is to the Great Tribulation that begins at the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel. It is preposterous for anyone to teach that the Church will be raptured before the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel.
Christ continued His recommendation, ” And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that am He that searcheth the reins and the hearts” ( Rev2:23 ). The phrase kill with death is used one more in the Scroll of Revelation. It is in relation to the fourth seal of Revelation 6. ” And when He had broken the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto him over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” ( Rev.6:7,8 ). At the breaking of the fourth seal, the Great Tribulation begins. Death is one of the means by which the antiChrist shall kill those who refuse to be branded with his mark of allegiance. So killing with death occurs in the context of the Great Tribulation. ” And all the churches shall know that am He that searcheth the reins and the hearts.” “All the churches shall know” indicates that the churches will be present here at the time the church of Thyatira shall be punished with death for her compromise. And we have shown that this occurs at the time of the Great Tribulation by the antiMessiah. The word churches refers to local assemblies of believers. After the rapture has taken place, they will be no more local assemblies of believers here on earth.
Wonderfully, there were some in the church of Thyatira who were not infected with this virulent virus. Christ referred to them as the rest who have not this doctrine, who have not seen the depths of Satan as they speak. Sexual immoralities have depths. Unless one repents quickly, the victim would slide deeper and deeper into it’s ramifications. It has branches: incest, bestiality, homosexualism, lesbianism, pedophilia, rape, extreme jealousy, murder etc. I will put no other burden upon you. Those in this church who had not received these evil practices were not condemned. They had nothing of which to repent. They were encouraged by Christ to hold unto what they have. They were admonished to ” hold fast until I come.” This is a promise that refers to the second coming of Christ. It corresponds perfectly to the second coming promises in His letters to the churches of Sardis ( Rev.3:3 ), and Philadelphia ( Rev.3:11 ). All three types of churches were cautioned about the coming of Christ. It therefore follows that all the messages to the three types of churches, the faithful and uncompromising churches, the dead church, and the compromising church, are relevant to the believers entering into the 70th week of Daniel.
He that overcometh is promised shared rulership of the earth with Christ in the New Millennium. He shall be given authority over the nations in the millennium, to rule them with a rod of iron, and to break them in pieces like a potters vessels, even as I received of my Father( Ps 2:6-12 ). These overcomers like Christ shall be in their glorified eternal immortal resurrection bodies. The Jerusalem that descended from heaven shall be their abode from where they shall rule the nations with Christ for a 1000 years ( Rev.20:4 ). And I will give him the morning star. Jesus is the bright and morning star ( Rev.22:16 ). Those who win souls shall shine as the stars for ever ( Dan.12:3 ). The stars speak of glory. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another in glory ( 1Cir.15:31 ). The stars exhibit the excellencies of the Almighty. The exaltation of the overcomer to the status of glory is unimaginable. And again that this message is for the audience of all the churches, once again implies near and far view applications.
The church of Laodicea received no commendation from the Lord, only condemnation. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot” ( Rev.3:15 ). This message of Christ was very meaningful to the recipients for two reasons. In the Roman world, the cultural practice of the people was that at social events- feasts and religious sacrifices- their drinks were served either hot or cold, never lukewarm. Whatever was lukewarm was abhorrent to the people. Besides, water was piped to Laodicea via an aqueduct from Hierapolis, a few miles north of the city. By the time it reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm. To drink it, they either allowed to it get cold or they warmed it. The idiomatic expression employed by Christ was very much understandable to the church of Laodicea. They know what it means to be lukewarm to Christ. They were utterly abhorrent to Him. Because the church was lukewarm, Christ would spew them out of His mouth. It is believed by some that Archippus was the pastor of this church ( Col.4:16,17 ). It is debatable whether he was alive at the time this letter was sent to the church of Laodicea.
One other problem the church had was complacency arising from material wealth. Because the city was rich, the church in it was also rich. Their attitude was, we are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing. They did not know that spiritually, they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. This was a very horrible situation. There are many materially rich churches in the world today that are a carbon copy of the church of Laodicea. Excessive material wealth breeds spiritual complacency. We ought to depend on Christ for all our daily needs. Our dependency on Him keeps us warm in our love for Him and for one another, and our faith in Him.
Christ counseled the church to buy refined gold from Him in order that they might be rich. This city was rich materially through wool trade and banking business. The members of the church were involved in both. But they were spiritually poor, bankrupt. If they were poor and wretched as Christ has proffered, it means the refined gold from Christ was offered free of charge. The city produced a famous black wool, the people were physically gorgeously dressed. But they were naked spiritually. They were dressed in black, but spiritually what they needed was a white garment in order that they might be clothed and their nakedness would not appear. The white garment is the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
The city of Laodicea boasted of a medical school affiliated to the temple of Aesclepius. This medical school had the best oculists of their day who treated common eye ailments through the use of an eye salve produced by the medical school. So, this church had no problems with their physical eyes. All their physical eye problems were taken care of, but they were spiritually blind and undiscerning. They lacked the gift of discerning of spirits ( 1Cir.12:10 ). If they could see into the realm of the spirit, they would have observed their nakedness and spiritual bankruptcy, wretchedness and misery. Christ admonished them to buy of Him eye salve in order that they might anoint their eyes so that they could see. These were all offered free, for they were bankrupt and had not the spiritual currency with which to purchase them. Because Jesus loved them, He rebuked and chastened them, in order that they might become zealous and repent.
Verse 20 could be looked at both ways, either as a command and exhortation or as a promise of blessing. I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come to him, and sup with him, and he with me. This is an appeal to the individual christian to open the door of his heart to Christ, not only of the Laodiceans but also of every local assembly. The heart of the individual has no external lock. The lock is on the inside. Therefore, it must be opened from the inside. When Christ comes in and sits at the head of the table, the Shulhan Aruch, there will be supernatural banquet of love, joy, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, true and lasting wealth and riches, fellowship with God, men and angels, divine guidance and direction, open doors and opportunities etc.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame, and am set with my Father in His throne. Jesus is co-regent with the Fatter. He is sitting at the Father’s right hand. Even so shall the overcomer reign with Christ here in the New Millennium. As always the message is not directed only to the Laodiceans but all believers at all times. We shall live and reign with Him a thousand years. The scriptures make it clear true believers, the overcomers shall share the rulership of the Earth with Christ in the millennium. They shall be co-regents with Christ. Even so, Amen.
The true believer who compromises the truth shall be spared the wrath of God ( 1 Thess.1:10;5:9 ), but shall face the wrath of Satan through the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist. The faithful and uncompromising believer is promised protection from within the sphere of the Great tribulation by the antiChrist, and eventual removal out from the sphere of persecution before God pours out His wrath on the living wicked earth-dwellers who worship and adore the Dragon-Beast. God as the sovereign Lord will lovingly use the the Great Affliction to cleanse, purge and purify the Church in order to make them stand blameless in His presence ( Jude 24 ). Believers who are looking for new heaven and new Earth wherein dwelleth righteousness must stand before Him blameless. ” Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless ( 2 Pet.3:14 ). The Church at this present hour is neither spotless nor blameless. Because God loves us, He disciplines us. ” For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son when He receieveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealers with you as with sons; for what son is he whom his father chasteneth not? But if ye are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” ( Heb.12:6,7 ).
God’s demand is the Christ’s bride be made worthy by being absolutely pure and holy. For this same purpose Paul instilled discipline in the Corinthian church by chastising them. ” For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” ( 2 Cor,11:2 ). Believers are to await eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus the Christ, who shall confirm us to the end, blameless in the Day Of Our Lord Jesus the Christ. The end here is an abbreviation of the end of the ages at which point of transition, the wrath of God is poured out on the wicked who remain after the rapture of the Church. This admonition is most applicable to compromising believers who shall enter the 70th week of Daniel.
The dead church or more appropriately the dead believers shall receive the mark of the beast. They shall be spared the horrors of the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist. But when they shall peace and safety, thinking that it is all over, then sudden destruction shall come upon them like travail upon a woman in labour, and they shall not escape ( 1Thess.5:3 ). They shall be spared the horrors of th Great Tribulation only to face the fires of the wrath of God, not only during the Day Of The Lord, but also in eternity in the lake of fire and brimstone.
Let us summarize the facts presented about the seven churches in Rev. 2 & 3. The seven churches are classified into three groups. These groups are, the dead church, the faithful and uncompromising churches, and the unfaithful and compromising churches.
(1) The faithful churches which are exemplified by the church of Philadelphia will heed Christ’s instruction concerning perseverance. They will adequately prepare ahead of time for the difficult time of the Great Tribulation. Therefore God shall offer them protection within the sphere of the Great Tribulaion, and eventual removal out of the sphere of the Great Tribulation when they are taken away from the scene of the Great Persecution in the rapture. Thereafter Christ shall destroy the wicked who remain in the Day Of The Lord.
(2) Believers who are spiritually dead who do not repent shall be branded with the mark of the beast as faithful citizens of the Satanic kingdom of the antiChrist. They shall be spared the horrors of the Great Tribulation. But they shall face the wrath of God in the Day Of The Lord, and in the hereafter eternal fire in the lake of fire and brimstone.
(3) The compromising believers who do not repent will be less than adequately prepared because they have not heeded Christ’s instruction concerning perseverance. Therefore they shall pass through the horrors of the Great Tribulation without God’s protection in order to cleanse, purge, and purify them, and present them blameless and spotless before the Lamb of God. They shall not take the mark of the beast, the symbol of loyalty to the Satanic kingdom of the antiMessiah. Some of them shall be killed, some imprisoned, and others publically humiliated. But they shall be raptured prior to the outpouring of the wrath of God before the Day Of The Lord; for God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus the Christ.
The Olivet Discourse
It will be impossible to place the warnings of danger given to the Church in the Olivet Discourse ( Matt.24:42-25:30 ) before the rapture if the rapture is pretribulational. The chronology of Matt.24 does not permit such a position. On the other hand, it does not make sense were it to be positioned immediately before the physical return of Christ at the expiry of the 70th week of Daniel. The admonition, ” Watch, therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” ( Matt24:41,42 ), does not make sense if attributed to Christ’s Second Advent at the end of the 70th week. Likewise the warning, Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son Of Man cometh ( Matt24:44 ).
“But if the evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looked not for Him, and in an hour he is not aware of” ( Matt.24:48-50 ).
It is obvious that in this parable, Jesus is the Lord, and the evil servant is the irresponsible and slothful leader in the Church. This parable cannot refer to the expiration of the 70th week, for the simple reason that Christ’s physical return occurs at the end of the 70th week. Men will know Christ is about to return. The Olivet Discourse contains warnings inside the 70th week prior to the rapture of the Church and the commencement of the Day Of His Wrath. The admonitions are both logical and sequential. ” Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the milk; the one shall be taken , and the other left” ( Matt24:40,41 ). The ones taken were taken in the rapture. The ones left are to face the wrath of God. The Greek word translated taken here is paralambano. It means to take near to oneself. It cannot connote the idea of been taken in Armageddon as pretribulationists would like us to believe. Nor is the one left only to enter the Millennium. Rather, the one left behind is left to face the wrath of God during the Day Of The Lord judgment of the living wicked earth-dwellers.
The warnings and admonitions urge us to be watchful ( Matt.24:42-44 ), faithful ( Matt.24:45-51 ), prepared ( Matt.25:1-13 ), and fruitful ( Matt.25:14-30 ); all in anticipation of the rapture of the Church prior to the commencement of the wrath of God at the last trump, at the breaking of the 7th seal which occurs inside the second half of the 70th seven of Daniel. We are to ” Watch ye, therefore, and pray always , that he may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son Of Man” ( Luk.21:36 ).
The Premission Admonition
In Matt.10 before Jesus sent out His disciples on evangelistic mission throughout all the land of Israel, He addressed them. He instructed them on what to do, and how they were to conduct themselves ( cv.1-15 ). Scholars of bible prophecy are agreed that Jesus looked beyond the immediate period to the 70th week of Daniel. Verses 16-42 parallel Christ’s instruction to His disciples in the Olivert Discourse concerning the Great Tribulation. In spite of the severity and the horrors of the Great Tribulation, some Jewish believers anointed of God shall go about persuading their Jewish countrymen as well as others in the land of Israel to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and saviour, and not to consent to be branded with the Mark of loyalty to the antiMessiah. ” Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be therefore as wise as serpent and as harmless as doves” ( v.16 ). This will be a very dangerous mission that will cause most of them their lives. Therefore they must be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. They must beware of men who will no doubt deliver them up to the councils and tribunals horridly set up to try nonconformists and antigovernmental subversives. Some synagogues and churches shall be forcibly taken over by the security apparatus of the antiMessiah. Others shall willing acquiesce in the decree and wishes of the antiMessiah. These evangelists in the land of Isreal and elsewhere in the world shall be publically humiliated in order to deter others from opposing the antiMessiah. They shall be scourged in synagogues and churches as public enemies and public examples. They shall be brought before governors and kings for the sake of the name of the Lord. It shall be for a testimony against these Jewish agents of the antiMessiah and the Gentiles ( v.18 ).
The same counsel that was given to the disciples in the Olivet Discourse was also given them in this pre-mission address. ” But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in the same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” ( vv.19,20 ). Their answers when questioned at the tribunals shall not be premeditated. It is be at the spur of the moment, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Reaction To The Debate Between Dr. Tommy Ice And Alan Kurschner Titled: The Church Will Facsimile The AntiChrist Before The Rapture
For decades, I have asked fellow believers who hold the Pretribulational Rapture view to direct me to unequivocal Scripture verses that buttress their Pretrib belief. They all fail to give give any direct and pointed verses. They defend their view quoting unconnected Scriptures like imputing that the twenty and four elders before the Throne Of God in Rev.4:4 are the raptured Church. They also claim that the invitation to Apostle John, the revelator, to come up hither is the Rapture Of The Church. Yet again they say that the fact that the word “Church” does not appear again after Rev.3 until Rev.22 indicates that the church had been raptured; not withstanding the numerous use of words and phrases such as saints, witnesses to Jesus, martyrs for Jesus, fellow brothers of John after the third chapter. There are other verses they reference to input rapture before the AntiChrist’s physical bebut and unveiling at the rebuilt Third Jewish Temple on Moriah in Jerusalem. So I was pleased when I got the link to the debate on the eschatological timeline between Dr.Tommy Ice and Alan E. kurschner.
Link: click here to watch:
Click here to listen: http://link.center.io/wf/click?upn=xKsd1EbAQRQf6eXyF5mLYOgt3Zr1yu4wARb-2FzHcz58VPPHngD86dpHdaeUxFf6y93o0sL6CixnhLabQdoqRThLxLpP-2FNeFEBwBog5pDKnohbiXkrmdli6zYzj9CtI3gbPWRVi-2FPwHTo-2BJuKdYjqF6P37Ix-2F80GH7dqPAoPmBuPJ-2FqB2Dj3TtgNztTOQMIlih_87QjDsvgfD68-2FLwG96R5lTmrmnPBomJlbRck1K-2BOdsDa2ymXGT0PnQaDnoen3BaO610HwRUWRVU5-2B6IO3DR-2BcrjhS0ZXe1X0ufxBOe-2FVO8KtdiM4H5lP1wI3DIyKEsqym8CHdQT8h-2BcyAF9juuQf2sGpHH7rxWKkIx3wyGJund8a-2BcQitUMIw45dhBydBajoQjUH0pUvEL4-2BQoGe9wvIwd-2B7IxNpAVIPT9yUixtkmqOSHCyOEpcTh4hAE0Wxt4bJTqVD9zLvv93CtbfFLBQeOffwOwDofKTXHCBDoBaTP0SW-2F0jBq7ZpTBlqu-2FoRQJ-2BA
Click here for transcript: https://www.alankurschner.com/2018/04/12/the-transcript-of-my-2015-debate-with-thomas-ice-is-now-available/
Dr. Tommy Ice did expatiate the Pretrib Position much more than hitherto, while Alan Kurschner espoused the Prewrath Rapture Position better called Pre-God’s-wrath Rapture Position. As stated earlier I was more interested in Dr. Tommy Ice view. I kept an open mind, hoping and wishing to understand and appreciate the Pretrib view. At the end of it all, Dr. Tommy Ice reinforced my prewrath ( PW ) Rapture Position because he too was unable to give unequivocal and direct Scriptures that I might have missed.
I came to the understanding that the Church would go through the Great Tribulation and be raptured thereafter by simple Bible reading, not even serious Bible study. At that time I had no knowledge of the Prewrath Rapture position expounded by Marvin J. Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen. And who am I in this regard? A simple believer with no fringes. Just a plain believer who read the Bible and came away with the understanding that a generation of believers would be around when the Antichrist debuts in the Temple.
I would now address and comment on Dr. Ice submissions. Let us refresh our minds on what the debate is on. It is whether the Church will face the AntiChrist before rapture or not. Alan E. Kurschner is for ( affirmative), whilst Dr. Ice is against ( negative ).
First, from the above, we see that the debate is about when the rapture occurs- an event in time relating to the AntiChrist. With no Scriptures to backup the absence of the Church during the short time of the AntiChrist on the world stage in bodily form, Dr. Ice chooses to tell us why the Church will be gone. He submits that the 70th week is appointed for Israel and not the Church. So, the Church cannot be on the scene in the 70th week. Jesus did not say that, neither did Peter, Paul or John the revelator, just a theological construct derived from Dispensationalism. My friend and brother Abraham Shallom has debunked this in his article, “The Prewrath Rapture Of The Church”: https://mtzionheritage.com/the-prewrath-rapture-of-the-church/.
To crown it all, Dr. Ice says “it makes sense.” Our view on the rapture should not depend on human sense but should rest on the validity of the Scriptures.
This mutual exclusivity of the Church and Israel in God’s scheme of things is strange. For most of the first century AD the Church was a sect within Judaism. From Jerusalem, it dispersed to the Gentile world ( Act.8:4 ). Israel was reestablished as an independent state in 1948. For the past 70 years, it has co-existed with the Church. And God has worked with both at the same time. By the pretrib’s submission, the Church should be gone. Israel is back in its native homeland. Jerusalem is in Jewish hands since 1967, and soon, the Third Temple would be rebuilt. God has never stopped relating with Israel during the Church Age. He ensured their survival all over the world. So this mutual exclusivity in the gap between the 69th and the 70th week is a human construct to suit the Pretrib view. There are no Scriptures to support it.
Now note, in Rev.12:17, we see Satan go at both Israel, the woman and Christians- those who hold firm to the witness of Christ in the face of Satan’s wrath. The reason for the rapture has been given by Jesus Himself. It is to rescue believers from total annihilation during the Great Tribulation.
Dr. Ice and Pretribbers assert that the Rapture is sudden with no events or “sign” to warn believers. Some assert it is secret and not seen by all especially unbelievers. This is not so. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians says while the unbelievers outside of their fold will be caught by surprise, the Thesssalonians should not be caught unawares as he has shared with them these things ( 1 Thess.3:4 ). Paul went on to give two future events that must happen before the Rapture: The Apostasy and The appearance of the AntiChrist in the Temple. I am sure we are familiar with this in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians ( 2 Thess.2:3 ).
When the disciples confronted Jesus in Matt.24 and asked for a sign to herald his coming, Jesus did not respond and say, oh! oh! there would be no sign: it would be sudden. Rather Jesus gave us the Olivet Discourse, and He zeroed in on a specific sign- the Shekinah, “SIGN” Of His arrival ( 30 ). Of course before this time He has spoken of world events like the standing of the image of the Antichrist in the Temple ( 15 ), and the cosmic disturbances ( 29 ), culminating in His appearance in the sky, and gathering us to meet Him- definitely the Rapture as He does not step on Earth.
To defend their Pretribulational stance, Dr. Ice and other pretribbers say this gospel is only for the benefit of Israel and Jews. Tell me please, is the Gospel Of Matthew read in Jewish synagogues?
Both our Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit through Paul use the symbolism of a pregnant woman to describe his second Coming which starts with the Rapture. Have the birth pains started? I don’t think so, but I believe I see a “pregnant woman” in our purview with recent events- Jerusalem’s status as the capital of Israel and moves to build the Third Temple.
I believe that as there is no joy of a new birth without birth pains, so also there is no joy of Rapture without the birth pangs of the Great Tribulation that follows the Antichrist’s debut in the Third Temple in Jerusalem. Yes, these are tumultuous times, but Jesus says we should “look up” as these terrible times unfold. Meanwhile, the unbelieving world who took the Mark Of The Beast, who worshipped Him, probably celebrated as Christians were being persecuted would run helter shelter as our Lord intervenes and cuts short the Great Tribulation by usual never seen before cosmic disturbances. Yes, there are clear events that show Christians will have to contend with the unveiled Antichrist for a short time. Remember these gospels are not read in the synagogues. So, they are not primarily for the unbelieving Jews. They are read in the churches.
Events in Rev.4 are well detailed, with the 24 elders, the 4 beasts, and the tens of thousands of worshipping angels. The raptured saints were not featured, not even in the worship scene. So, where is the Church? Definitely not in heaven. To be continued.
My Objections To A Brother Whose View On The Rapture Is Pretribulational ( 3 )
The 70th Week Of Daniel
This is the last seven years of the 70 weeks or 490 years appointed by God for Israel to finish the transgression, make an end of sin, make reconciliation for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up the vision and the prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” ( Daniel 9:24 ). The starting point of this period is the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and the leader of the Eighth And Final Beast Empire of Satan, the leader of the most powerful empire in the history of man on Earth. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” ( Daniel 9:27 ).
This leader of a powerful confederacy of ten nations will enforce a false peace agreement between Israel and her Arab and Islamic neighbours who are part of the ten nation confederation. This leader will pose as the Saviour of Israel from her surrounding enemy nations who would want her driven into the Mediterranean Sea. Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” ( John 5:43 ). It is most probable that many from within Israel, especially the scornful leaders ( Isa.28:14-19 ) of the nation will see this great and powerful emperor of a consortium of ten nations as the Messiah of Israel. This period is divided into two equal halves of 1, 260 days, 42 months or three and one-half years.
( a ) The Tribulation Period
Pretribs call the whole of this 7-year period the Tribulation Period. Obviously it will be a time of trouble. But does that warrant it being designated as the Tribulation Period? We must bear in mind that this period relates to Israel. It is the last 7-year period appointed for her to finish the transgression, and bring in everlasting righteousness. For the first three and one-half years, Israel enjoys relative peace under the protection of the this powerful leader of ten nation confederation. He will probably station a protection force in Israel and her Holy City, Jerusalem, as did the United States in South Korea and Japan, and Russia in East Germany, Poland, etc., after the Second World War. Although this leader is the antiChrist, he is as yet veiled. Apart from the saints who understand the end times, and some members of his inner circle who know his mission, the large majority of the inhabitants of the Earth, including the leadership of Israel will see him as the answer to humanity’s myriads of problems. He will enjoy wide acceptance. Designating the 70th week of Daniel as the Tribulation Period builds an a priori case for the Pretrib Rapture Position. There are no Scriptures that gives warrant to this designation. It is better to refer to it as simply the 70th week of Daniel.
( b ) The Time Of Jacob’s Trouble
Another error the pretribs commit which is like the first is the designation of the whole of the 70th Week as the time of Jacob’s trouble. “And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” ( Jere.30:4-7 ). Although not all pretribs share this view ( Dr. Ronald E. Showers ), the large majority do. Like the previous one mentioned above it builds an a priori case for the Pretrib Rapture Position. If the whole of the 70th week is the time of Jacob’s trouble, then the Church is exempt from it. After all, God is dealing with Israel and no the Church.
But the whole of the 70th week cannot be the time of Jacob’s trouble because Israel enjoys relative peace during the first three and one-half years of the 70th week under the protection of the antiChrist prior to his unveiling at the midpoint of the 70th week.
The antiChrist will enforce this false peace agreement for the first half of the 70th week. He will ensure that none of the surrounding hostile Arab and Islamic nations attack Israel during the first half of the 70th week. This is to give Israel a false sense of security. He will deal with Israel himself. Until the midpoint of the 70th week when he abrogates the False Covenant of peace, he does not attack Israel. It is precisely in the middle of the 70th week when the antiChrist breaks his Covenant with Israel, and surrounds Jerusalem with his armies in what is called the Jerusalem Campaign by Robert Van Camden of blessed memory that every Jewish Israeli will put his hands on his loins, and face turned into paleness as a result of fear. “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” ( Luke 21:20 ). At the same time he surrounds Jerusalem with his armies, he also desecrates the temple, and abrogates daily animal and grain offerings began at the ratification of the false peace agreement. This is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet ( Dan.9:27, Matt.24:15 ). Therefore the time of Jacob’s trouble begins at the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel. It does not include the first half of the 70th week of Daniel.
( c ) The Time Of God’s Wrath
It obvious from the Scriptures that the Church is exempt from the wrath of God: for God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus the Christ ( 1 Thess.1:10, 5:9 ). If it can be established or proven from the Scriptures that the wrath of God begins at the commencement of the 70th week, hurrah, the game is over, the Church cannot go through any part of the 70th week. But are there any Scriptures that teach explicitly or implicitly that the wrath of God begins at the beginning of the 70th week? Pretribs teach that the whole of the 70th week is the period of God’s wrath, thusly building an a priori case for Pretrib Rapture Position inasmuch as the Church is exempt from the wrath of God. But the Scriptures are unequivocal in teaching that the day of the Lord is preceded by cosmic and celestial disturbances, and that the wrath of God occurs in the day of the Lord.
The prophet Joel announced that the day of the Lord shall be heralded by the darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and the appearance of the blood Moon.
“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.” ( Joel 3:15 ).
“And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” ( Joel 2:30-31 ).
The prophet Isaiah spoke of the same. “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.” ( Isaiah 24:23 ).
John the revelator told us that this event occurs at the breaking of the sixth seal, after the breaking of the fourth and fifth seals which signal the Great Tribulation and the martyrdom of the saints. The Great Tribulation begins at the midpoint of the 70th week. The sixth seal therefore is broken way into the second half of the 70th week. “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 mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” ( Rev.6:12-14 ). It is obvious therefore that the wrath of God which occurs in the day of the Lord begins in the second half of the 70th week.
The cosmic and celestial disturbances shall send men scurrying for non-existent refuge under the rocks and mountains in fear of the wrath of God which is about to begin. “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 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: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” ( Rev.6:15-17 ).
In the Olivet Discourse, our Lord Jesus told His disciples that the darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars shall be preceded by the tribulation of those days. “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:” ( Matt.24:29 ). The tribulation of those days is the Great Tribulation spoken of earlier in verse 21.
In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” ( 2 Cor.13:1 ). We have established from the Scriptures that the day of the Lord is preceded by cosmic and celestial disturbances, and that this phenomenon is preceded by the Great Tribulation which begins at the middle of the 70th week. It is evident therefore that the wrath of God does not begin at the commencement of the 70th week but rather begins way into the second half of the 70th week after the Great Tribulation which begins at the midpoint of the 70th week.
( d ) The Tribulation
Pretribs generally label the first three and one-half years of the 70th week of Daniel as the Tribulation. Is this designation biblically accurate? Admittedly, the first three and one-half years of the 70th week of Daniel is a period of trouble. Apart from the emergence of false christs, prophets, and teachers, and of course the ultimate false christ, the antiChrist, there are wars, commotions, rumors, and threats of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. These are troubles no doubt, but is there any biblical warrant to label it the Tribulation? Believers are not specifically targeted for genocide. The troubles are such as arise from attempt by the antiChrist to gain world domination. In the Olivet Discourse our Lord Jesus calls this period the beginning of birth pains. “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” ( Mat.24:5-8 ).
It is better therefore to stick to the biblical label or simply call it the first three and one-half years. If we designate it as the Tribulation, is it in relation to Israel or the Church. During this period the antiChrist protects Israel. So Israel enjoys relative peace, tranquility, and prosperity during this period. And because the notorious world leader has not yet declared himself God, nor has demanded worship by all mortals, the saints are not specifically targeted for genocide because of their refusal to worship the Beast and to give him allegiance. Who is persecuting who? Nations are at war with one another, jockeying for power and prominence, and there is realignment of nations. On top of that are famines, pestilences, and national disasters like earthquakes which are the natural consequences of war. There is utter chaos. The rules of engagement enshrined in the Geneva convention will be rubbished. International NGOs like Medicine Sans Frontier and WHO will not be able to function. The essence of the second horse and rider is to take away peace from the Earth in order that men shall kill one another ( Rev.6:3,4 ). This is not particularly against Christians and the Jews. But that is not to say it will be easy for the believers and Jews. Not at all. But this is the narrow window of opportunity for both Jews and Christians who understand the end times to abandon the cities and towns, move into villages, forests, and wildernesses to prepare safe havens, store away food, medicine, and other supplies. It will be extremely difficult to do these things once the Great Tribulation has begone, and the Christians and Jews, and any other persons who refuse to give allegiance to the antiChrist are targeted for genocide.
The Prewrath Rapture Of The Church
Before Christ’s First Advent, the Scripture told us when He would come. “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” ( Dan.9:26 ). It is evident from the above scripture that the Messiah would come after the expiry of the 69th week of Daniel’s 70-week Prophecy but before the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman general Titus in 70 AD. Therefore any Messiah that showed up for the first time after the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah, Jerusalem, in 70 AD is a pseudomessiah. And there have been a catologue of them. There are some believers that believe and teach that the Second Coming of Christ is very important, but that when He comes is immaterial. This view appears to be pious on the surface, but a closure examination reveals that it, like other views that improperly Time the Rapture, in contradiction to the Scriptures, is very deceitful. If the Scripture told us when the First Advent occurred and it was fulfilled to the letter, it is also expected that the Scriptures will also reveal when the Second Advent would occur, and it shall be fulfilled to the letter.
Dispensationalism And The Rapture
Classical Dispensationalism ( CD ) also called Traditional Dispensationalism ( TD ), makes a distinction between Israel and the Church. In principle, this view is biblically accurate. However, in practice, Classical Dispensationalism teaches that God does not work with Israel and the Church at the same time. It teaches that in the 70 weeks God is dealing with Israel. In the first 69 weeks, the Church did not exist on Earth. The New Covenant was enacted by Christ with His twelve Apostles who were representative of Israel in the Upper Room on Mount Zion at the expiration of the 69th week in 32 AD. The inception of the Church occurred on the Day Of Pentecost, in the gap of time between the 69th and the 70th week of Daniel. For this reason they name this timeless period the Church Age. In this Gentile interlude, God’s prophetic clock in relation to Israel is at a standstill. In the 70th week, God begins to deal with Israel again, and logically according to them, the Church will no longer be needed on Earth, and will cease to exist. This view necessitates that the Church be raptured prior to the commencement of the 70th week of Daniel. Some proponents of the Pretrib Rapture view concede that it is not an explicit teaching of the Scriptures as is also the Posttrib Rapture view. The Bible does not in some many words state either ( J. F. Valwoord ). Another Pretrib concedes that the proof is logically invalid, or at least unconvincing ( Richard Mayhue ). If the Pretrib Rapture view is not an explicit teaching of the Scriptures, then what is it? It is based on a man made theological system opsonized with Scriptures to make it palatable to swallow. The Scriptures must be bent to fit into their preconceived theological mold.
On the other hand, Progrssive Dispensationalism ( PD ) does not emphasize the distinction between Israel and the Church. To a very dangerous extent, it obscures and blurs this distinction to the point of extinction and obliteration or teaches that the Church has replaced Israel which fosters antisemitism in the Church. Supersessesionism is anti-Judaism and anti-Israel. This view is also dangerous. But because they do not insist that the Church must be on AWOL before the 70th week, some of them hold the Prewrath Rapture Position.
The Church And Israel
A closer examination of the Scriptures reveals that although the Church did not exist in the first 69 weeks of Daniel, for a period of 38 years from the crucifixion of Christ in 32 AD to the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem in 70 AD, God was working with both Israel and the Church at the same time. The Church and The Temple co-existed. Biblical scholars are agreed that either Apostle Paul or one of his associates wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. It was addressed to Jews who believed in Jesus but under the Old Covenant System prior to the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem in 70 AD. He told them to get out of the Old House, and get into the New House. The Old House was about to be destroyed.
In the Acts Of The Apostles, the kingdom was reoffered to Israel which it rejected. Had Israel received Jesus as its Messiah, the Roman Empire would have metamorphosed into the Eighth And Final Beast Empire and the Kingdom Of God on Earth established immediately. There would have been no need for such a long gap of time between the 69th and the 70th week. However the kingdom was postponed and The Temple was destroyed. Israel went into exile. Thus began the long Diaspora which continues to this day. Between 70 AD and 1948, Israel did not exist as a independent nation. In 1948, Israel was reconstituted from the ashes of the Holocaust as an independent state. For the past 70 years since Israel’s independence, God has being working with both Israel and the Church. Anyone who denies that has denied a self-evident fact. To teach therefore that God does not work with Israel and the Church at the same time is a blatant lie that contradicts the Scriptures. In the Olivet Discourse, Christ addresssed His disciples not only as representatives of the nation of Israel but as also foundation members of the yet to be established body of Christ. Therefore we cannot relegate the Olivet Discourse and the Gospel of Matthew to the Jewish Waste Paper Basket. We concede that the New Covenant was established with Israel, not with the Church. The Church is the product of the New Covenant which God promised and established with Israel. One cannot establish a covenant with a non-existent entity. The Church is a fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs of Israel as well as the Davidic Covenant ( 2 Sam.7 ).
The Church, The Rapture And The 70th Week Of Daniel
The Pretrib Rapture Position designates the whole of the 70th week of Daniel as the period of God’s wrath. It also labels it the Tribulation Period and equates it with Time Of Jacob’s Trouble ( Jere.30:7 ). It divides the 70th week into two equal halves of three and one-half years each which is biblical. The first three and one-half years it labels the Tribulation, and the second three and one-half years it labels the Great Tribulation, none of which is biblical accurate. It rightly points out that the Church is exempt from the Wrath Of God, but wrongly concludes contrary to the Scriptures that the Church must be raptured before the commencement of the 70th week inasmuch as it is exempt from the wrath of God ( 1 Thess.1:10, 5:9 ). Do the Scriptures teach that the whole of the 70th week is the period of God’s wrath? The Pretrib Rapture Position makes no distinction between the wrath of God and the wrath of Satan. ( Rev.6:17, 12:12 ). Reading through any Pretrib writing one would be at a loss as to which is God’s wrath and which constitutes the wrath of Satan.
It rightly concedes that Israel enjoys relative peace during the first three and one-half years due to protection from the antiChrist ( Meno Kalisher ), the most powerful ruler of the most powerful empire in history due to the peace agreement which probably involves other Arab and Islamic nations like Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Turkey which are part of the ten nation confederation of The Eighth And Final Beast Empire of Satan ruled by the antiChrist, based on the tenor of the words in Hebrew. Events that occur during the first three and one-half years are the emergence of false christs, wars, commotions, threats and rumours of wars. It concludes with famines, pestilences, and earthquakes which are the natural consequences of war. Meanwhile Israel enjoys relative peace stemming from the protection offered her by the antiChrist, and the resumption of animal and grain offerings in the rebuilt Third Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Why then do pretribs regard the first three and one half-years as part of the time of Jacob’s Trouble when Israel is peaceful all this while and prospers, and freely sacrifices in the rebuilt Third Jewish Temple? The first half of the 70th Week will be Israel’s best period since independence in 1948, although the lull will lead it off its guards.
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” ( Dan.9:27 ).
The antiChrist does not interfere with Jewish worship in the temple until the middle of the 70th week when he receives power and authority from Satan ( Rev.13:2b ), relocates his headquarters to Jerusalem from somewhere in the land of Magog ( Dan.11:45 ), makes his debut at the rebuilt Third Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah, desecrates the Third Jewish Temple by threading on its sacred precincts forbidden to Gentiles, erecting an image of himself in the Holy Of Holies, and demanding worship of all mortals.
“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.” ( 2 Thess.2:4 ). It therefore follows that the time of Jacob’s Trouble does not begin until the midpoint of the 70th week when the antiChrist makes his debut at the temple. At the same time, he sorrounds Jerusalem with his armies. Jesus taught his disciples in the Olivet Discourse that the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet is coincident with the surrounding of Jerusalem with the armies of the antiMessiah.
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” ( Matt.24:15-21; cp. Mk.13:14-19 ).
Luke equated the same situation with the surrounding of Jerusalem with the armies of the antiChrist. “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” ( Luk.21:20-24 ).
It is explicitly clear from the Scriptures that the first three and one-half years of the 70th week of Daniel is not part of the time of Jacob’s Trouble. The time of Jacob’s Trouble begins at the midpoint of the 70th week and corresponds with the whole of the second half of the 70th week which is the time allotted to the antiMessiah to reign in Jerusalem. “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.”( Rev.13:5 ).
Why then do pretribs designate the first half of the 70th week as part of the time of Jacob’s Trouble? Because they want to keep the Church out of it. Do they truly succeed? No. They concede there are believers in the 70th who are not strictly Jewish. These they label Tribulation saints. But they have not been able to provide Scriptures that prove that so many millions or perhaps even billions of believers came to the saving knowledge of Christ in so short a period, three and one-half years after the Rapture of the Church, at a time when all the good pastors and believers are gone and there is no formal worship inasmuch as the first half of the 70th week consists of the emergence of false christs, wars and rumors of wars, famines pestilences and earthquakes. Is it the time for mass crusades, revival, evangelism, missions, and soul winning? Is this a good time for new converts to Christianity or old ones who missed the rapture because they were spiritual weak or indolent to acquire so much knowledge and inner fortitude to face the horrors of the Great Tribulation which begins at the midpoint of the 70th week whilst the seasoned saints are whisked away to heaven before the antiMessiah hangs out his shingles?
In 2 Thess.2:1, our Brother Apostle Paul linked our gathering together unto Him ( Rapture ) with the Parousia ( the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ); “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,”: as also did our Lord Jesus in the Olivet Discourse; “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: 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.” ( Matt.24:29-31 ). Pretribs break this link in order to keep the Church out of the 70th week of Daniel, place the Rapture before the commencement of the 70th week, and the Second Coming at the end of the 70th week. They teach that those who are gathered are gathered into the Millennium at the end of Armageddon. But there is no reference to Armageddon in this segment of the Olivet Discourse quoted above. Our Lord Jesus Christ stated very clearly that the sign of His Coming which is the Shekinah in the heavens occurs after the Tribulation of those days and is preceded by the darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. This event occurs in the second half of the 70th week, a significant amount of time before Armageddon which occurs towards the end of the 30-day Reclamation Period that follows the expiry of the 70th week of Daniel.
Secret And Silent Rapture
Pretribs also teach that the Rapture shall be secret and silent. But we see here that the Rapture is linked with cosmic and celestial disturbances and the appearance of the Shekinah in the heavens. Every eye will see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and with an entourage of angels ( Rev.1:7 ). The tribes of the Earth shall mourn. Men’s heart shall fail them for fear of the raging of the waves and roiling of the sees, and those things that are coming upon the Earth. “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” ( Luke 21:25-27 ). It is at this point in The 70th week that Christ instructs His disciples to look up; for their redemption draweth near. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” ( Luke 21:28 ). The trumpet shall sound, and the angels shall be dispatched to gather His elect from one end of heaven to the other.
Pretribs teach that no prophesied event shall occur before the Rapture can take place. This is their pet doctrine of imminence which teaches that the Rapture can occur at any moment and will be signless. But we see here that the Rapture is preceded by the Great Tribulation, the cosmic and celestial disturbances and the appearance of the Shekinah in the heavens. The Rapture cannot be signless inasmuch as it is preceded by these events: the Great Tribulation and the cosmic and celestial disturbances, and the sign of the coming of the Son Of Man in the heavens.
Will The Rapture Be Sudden?
Pretribs teach that the Rapture will occur suddenly, like a thief in the night. Yes, the Bible teaches that, but it relates it to the unbelievers who are in darkness, the children of the night who have no knowledge of the times and epochs. “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” ( 1 Thess.5:1-8 ). On the contrary, believers are the children of the day and light. They are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore that day cannot come upon them unawares.
Amputation Of The Great Tribulation
Pretribs label the whole of the second half of the 70th week the Great Tribulation. If the Great Tribulaion covers the whole of the 70th week, when do the trumpets occur? Between the end of the 70th week and the end of Armageddon is 30 days. The fifth trumpet alone lasts as long as five months. If the Great Tribulation covers the whole of the second half of the 70th week, then there is no time left for the trumpet and bowl judgments before the Millennium begins. Therefore, the Great Tribulation does not cover the whole of the second half of the 70th week. A distinction must be made between the Great Tribulation and the eschatological day of the Lord both of which occur during the second half of the 70th week of Daniel.
The Scriptures make it that the Great Tribulation is cut short by the cosmic and celestial disturbances in order to save some saints alive for rapture. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” ( Matt.24:22 , cp. Mk.13:20 ). The Greek word is ekolobothesan derived from koloboo which means to amputate. If the Great Tribulation were not cut short, the antiMessiah and his security apparatus would ferret out and kill everyone who repudiates the authority of the antiChrist by refusing to accept the mark of the Beast. Google has mapped the whole world including ocean floors. There would be no where to hide. But pretribs teach that the Great Tribulation is not cut short. That what is cut short is the second half of the 70th week. That God could have permitted to be longer. Would the 70th week be a week if it were made shorter? This is the position of Renauld E. Showers, a professor at the Institute Of Jewish Studies, Cairn University. This explanation is begging the question. It contradicts the clear teaching of the Scriptures.
The Fifth Seal Martyrs
Pretribs describe the fifth seal martyrs as feeble Christians who could not make the first round up who were made the bottom of the altar. But the Scripture does not say so. They were killed for the word of God and the testimony which they upheld. “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy andrue, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” ( Rev.6:9-11 ). They should not be disparaged but honored. Even far more interesting is how did the fifth seal martyrs acquire so much inner fortitude in so short a time to withstand the horrors of the Great Tribulation if the rapture occurred before the terminus-a-quo of the 70th week?
The Teaching Of Christ
“And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” ( Luke 17:22-30 ).
Because they would be in severe distress due to persecution, the disciples will desire to see the days of the Son Of Man, but will not see it. False teachers and false prophet who purportedly know His whereabouts will say to them, look here, see there. Christ warned His disciples not to follow them. This would be an attempt to lure them out of hiding in order that they maybe coerced to receive the mark of the Beast or be killed outright on refusal to accept it. His coming will not be to any secret chamber or in the desert. It will not be secret or silent. It will be like lightning that flashes from one part under the heaven to another with thunder and rumbling. Then He likened His Coming with the deluge in the days of Noah. They were eating and drinking, marrying and being giving in marriage, until Noah entered the Ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Christ taught His disciples that rescue ( Rapture ) and wrath occur the same day. The same day that Noah and family entered the Ark, rain deluged the heavens and the Earth. “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;” ( Genesis 7:13 ).
Christ also compared His Coming to the days of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. They were eating and drinking, buying and selling. They planted, they builded. But on the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. The teaching of Christ in the Olivet Discourse is very obvious. The same day that Christ is revealed, referring to Christ Coming like lightning, the saints shall be rescued ( raptured) and the judgment of God on the wicked will begin.
But this clear teaching of Christ has been turned into a controversy by the pretribs claiming that there was a gap of seven days between the entry of Noah and his family into the Ark and the beginning of the deluge. God warned Noah that there was seven days left and the deluge would begin. “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” ( Genesis 7:4 ). Noah had to go in and out of the Ark to complete his job of bringing in the animals according to God’s instruction. On the seventh day he completed his job of bringing in the animals, and he and his family were safely shut in in the Ark. on the same day, the fountains of the deep were broken, the windows of heaven were opened, and the rain deluged the heavens. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.” ( Genesis 7:11-16 ).
In their attempt to keep the Church out of the 70th week, they negated the clear teaching of Christ. Christ taught his disciples that the two events, the entry of Noah and his family into the Ark and the judgment of God on the ungodly occurred on the same day. On the seventh day, Noah and his family, and the animals were safely in the Ark, God shut them in, and the deluge began. The rescue of Noah and his family occurred on the same day that the judgment of fell. Jesus compared this to the day of the Son Of Man. So shall it be on the day when the Son Of Man is revealed ( Luk.17:30 ). The disciples understood this truth. It informed their question, “ when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of their coming and of the end of the ages?” ( Matt.24:3 ). The parts of the sign would be given in reverse order: the sign of the end of the ages will precede the sign of His Coming. The cosmic and celestial disturbances will occur before the appearance of The Shekinah, the Sign Of The Coming Of The Son Of Man in the heavens. Pretribulationism contradicted the teaching of Christ in the Olivet Discourse. Christ’s Coming to rapture the Church occurs at the end of the ages. The end of the ages initiated the day of the Lord.
The Teaching Of Apostle Peter
“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” ( 2 Peter 2:5-9 ).
Our brother Apostle Peter repeats the teaching of Christ that the righteous are rescued and then the punishment of the wicked follows. Noah’s rescue before the world was submerged in the waters of the deluge illustrates the back-to-back timing of the rapture of the Church and God’s judgment of the wicked that follows. Both events occur on the same day. Our Lord Jesus used the same illustration in His Olivet Discourse.
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as it was in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” ( Matt.24:37-39 ).
They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah and his family entered the Ark. And they knew not until the flood came and took them all away. So shall the Coming of the Son Of Man be. The same day the Church is rescued, then the judgment of the wicked begins. Christ gave another illustration saying the same thing all over again.
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” ( Matt.24:40-41 ).
But the pretribs in order to defend their pet doctrine of imminence and to keep the Church out of the 70th week of Daniel have made Christ’s illustration applicable to the battle of Armageddon instead of the rapture of the Church. They say those who were taken were taken in judgment and those left were left to enter into the Millennial Kingdom Of Christ. But the question of the disciples pertains to the sign of His Coming and of the end of the ages. His coming will initiate the rapture of the Church and the wrath of God on the wicked earth-dwellers who remain. The meaning of the passage is very clear. Those who were taken were taken to be with the Lord when He comes to rescue the faithful. Those who were left will be the unrighteous wicked who remain after the rescue of the righteous. They were left to face the wrath of God as it was in the days of Noah. This is exactly how Peter understood it. The righteous are rescued, and the wicked are left for judgment.
The meaning of Christ teaching is made more glaringly obvious when we consider the meaning of the Greek word paralambano rendered taken. It means to receive near, to associate with oneself in a familiar or intimate act or relation. It is used six times by Christ in reference to future events. It is used twice in Matt.24:40,41, and three times in Luk.17:34-36. In each instance it refers to the one being taken and the other left behind. It is also used by Christ in Jon.14:1-4. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” In this passage also, it carries the meaning of being received by Christ. When the saints are received by Christ in clouds of heaven at the Rapture of the Church, it carries the notion of the angels of God gathering the wheat into the barn ( Matt.13:30 ). Christ will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other ( Matt.24:31 ). “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” ( 1 Thess.4:17 ). A better rendering of paralambano is to receive intimately. So, those who are left behind will face the wrath of the Lord during the Day Of The Lord judgment of the wicked.
The Teaching Of Apostle Paul
As we have pointed out earlier, our brother Apostle Paul in His letter to the Thessalonians linked the coming of the Lord to our gathering together unto Him ( Rapture ). “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,”( 2 Thess.2:1 ). The classical rapture passage: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” ( 1 Thess.4:13-18 ); parallels the Second Coming passage in the Olivet Discourse: “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: 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.” ( Matt.24:29-31 ). Those of us who are alive and remain at the coming of the Lord shall not go before those who are asleep. It is when Christ descends from heaven with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God that He will dispatch His angels to gather together His elect from one end of heaven to the other. This event occurs after the Great Tribulation of those days, after the cosmic disturbances asssociated with the darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. The Church is raptured and God’s judgment of the unrighteous wicked begins.
God cannot begin to punish the wicked until their cup of iniquity is full. Their sin must pile up to heaven. It is a righteous thing with God to recompense Tribulation to them that trouble us. “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”( 2 Thess.1:6-10 ). They must trouble us during the Great Tribulation for God to trouble them during the day of the Lord. The rest to the righteous is given when Christ descends from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taken vengeance on them that know not God. He shall punish the unrighteous with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. This event, the punishment of the wicked in perpetuity shall occur when He comes to be gloried in His saints, and to be admired in all those who believe in that day.
Apostle Paul also taught the Thessalonians believers that although Christ will come like a thief in the night, it is only in relation to the wicked and unrighteous who are of the night and of darkness. “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,”( 1 Thess.5:1, 3-9 ). But believers are not of the night and darkness that that day should come upon them unawares. The day of sudden destruction cannot come upon believers like a thief in the night. We can know the general time period of His Coming but not the very day and the hour ( Matt.24:36 ). The believers are here until the day of the judgment of the wicked, but are delivered from it. The same day the saints are rescued, the judgment of the wicked commences. In all those passages of the Scriptures where Christ Coming is described as a thief in the night ( Luk.12:39,40; 2 Pet.3:10; Rev.3:3 ), the suddenness of His Coming is connected to the ignorance of the unrighteous wicked.
The Teaching Of Christ In The Scroll Of Revelation
The Scroll Of Revelation is highly organized and chronological. It is unique in the canon of the Scriptures being a direct communication from Christ to Apostle John the apocalyptist. It is the revelation ( unveiling ) of Jesus Christ which the Father gave to Him to reveal to the Church. It was revealed to Apostle John, the revelator through the mediation of an angel. In the first chapter, Christ, the risen Saviour is unveiled walking in the midst of the seven candlesticks which are the seven representative churches. Chapters two and three contain the letters to the seven churches. Chapters four and five unveil the Throne Room of God in the Temple of God in Heaven, a beehive of activities from where the events in the 70th week of Daniel in both heaven and on Earth are monitored and controlled. It is magic and hermeneutical jingoism, not biblical exegesis, to conjure up the Rapture in Rev.4:1 when John the revelator is invited into the Throne Room of the Temple Of God in Heaven to receive the revelation. The pretribs hold this unscholarly view in order to keep the Church out of the 70th week of Daniel and to sustain their doctrine of imminence. The first five chapters form the background to the Scroll Of Revelation.
In chapter six, the 70th week of Daniel begins with the breaking of the first seal which is the emergence of false christs, and of course the ultimate antiChrist who enters into a false peace pact with Israel for seven years ( Dan.9:27 ). He tries to form alliances with nations through subtle peace agreements. When this fails he resorts to war. This is the breaking of the second seal. Wars will naturally lead to famine, pestilences and natural disasters. This is the third seal which brings the first half of the 70th week to a close. In the middle of the 70th week, Satan is cast down to the Earth by archangels Michael with His hordes of fallen evil angels whose abode had been in the Dark Void and starry heavens. Satan is enraged ( Rev.12:7-9 ). He possesses the antiChrist, gives his power seat, and authority ( Rev.13:2 ). He relocates his headquarters to Jerusalem, surrounds Jerusalem with his armies, suspends temple worship and offerings, desecrates the rebuilt Third Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah by erecting a statue of himself in the Holy Of Holies, and demands worship of all mortals. This is the abomination that makes desolate spoken by Daniel the prophet. Those who repudiate his authority by refusing his mark of allegiance are executed. This is the Great Tribulation which begins at the midpoint of the 70th week at the breaking of the Fourth Seal ( Rev.6:7,8 ).
The fifth seal depicts the arrival of the saints in heaven martyred under the fourth seal taking place on Earth at that time ( Rev6:9-11 ). It is purely a heavenly scene. It does not advance the chronology of the Scroll Of Revelation. So, the fifth seal is concurrent with the fourth. There is a certain number of saints to be martyred. It is not revealed to us. It is a secret number known only to God ( Deut.29:29 ). When that number is complete, God cuts short the Great Tribulation with the cosmic and celestial disturbances associated with the breaking of the sixth seal. There is a great earthquake, the Sun is darkened, the Moon will not give it’s light, and Stars will fall from the heavens. At the breaking of the sixth seal ( Rev.6:12-17 ), the unbelieving world will realize God is about to punish them for their evils. They scurry for nonexistent refuge under the rocks and the mountains. The saints are looking up for their redemption draws near. But before God unleashes His wrath on the wicked earth-dwellers, He seals the 144,000, and raptures the Church to take them away from the scenes of His wrath ( Rev.7 ). The Church is not appointed to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus the Christ ( 1 Thess.1:10, 5:9 ). In Rev.8, the seventh seal is broken, and the wrath of God begins. There is no hint whatsoever of rapture before the commencement of the 70th week except that magically conjured up in Rev.4:1 by pretribs who are hell bent on getting the Church out of here before the 70th week begins.
The Rapture Occurs At The Parousia
The bane of the Pretribulational Rapture Position is the separation of the Rapture from the Second Coming Of Christ by a minimum of seven years. There is not a single verse of the Scriptures that clearly teaches or supports this separation. It is neither explicit nor implicit. Of all the passages of the Scriptures we have examined, there is none that makes this assertion. Until Christ descends from the heavens with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, there can be no rapture. And this event occurs after the Tribulation of those days and the attendant cosmic and celestial disturbances that cut short the Great Tribulation. It is witnessed by all and sundry ( Matt.24:30;Rev.1:7 ). It is neither secret nor silent. There is no evidence in the Scriptures that Christ descends from the heavens with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God twice, once to rapture the Church before the commencement of the 70th week, and another, at least seven years later at the end of Armageddon. Christ’s descent from the heavens to the sky with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God occurs at the interlude between the end sixth seal and the breaking of the seventh. This event occurs in the second half of the 70th week after the Tribulation of those days ( Matt.24:29 ). At this point, He descends from the heavens to the sky to rapture the Church and the punish the unrighteous wicked during the day of His wrath that follows the darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. All the OT prophets that spoke of the Day Of The Lord are unanimous in their proclamation that the Day Of The Lord is preceded and heralded by the cosmic disturbances.
Christ’s descent at Armageddon with the raptured saints and holy angels is not accompanied with the blowing of the trumpet with voice of the archangel ( Rev.19:10-21 ). The sole purpose is to defeat the armies of the kingdoms of this age and to reclaim physical repossession of the Earth in the behalf of the Father. Christ’s descent with the voice of the archangel occurs inside the second half of the 70th week, whilst Armageddon ends at the end of the 30-day Reclamation Period that immediately follows the expiration of the second half of the 70th week. To teach rapture before the commencement of the 70th week of Daniel is to court disaster. It makes the Church vulnerable to deception by false prophets, false teachers, and false christs of whom there will be a preponderance beginning from the first half of the 70th week of Daniel. The commencement of the 70th week is marked by the emergence of false christs, and of course the ultimate antiChrist, the Son Of Destruction. It will make the Church unprepared to face the horrors of the Great Tribulation. A generation of believers that have been taught they shall be taken to heaven on the wings of a “silver bird” before the emergence of the antiChrist will be ill prepared to resist the allurement of the antiChrist especially in those nations where the citizenry are used to food stamps and government handouts. The antiChrist will promise to put a chicken in every pot, and he will certainly deliver, thusly making unprepared believers chickens in his own pot during the Great Tribulation.
The Parousia Occurs At The End Of The Ages
In the Olivet Discourse, the disciples asked,our Lord Jesus the Christ, “ what shall be the sign of the thy coming and of the end of the ages.” They linked His Coming with the end of the ages. The word semeion in Greek is singular. There is only one sign of His Coming And Of The End Of The Ages. Jesus answered this question by narrating a series of events that shall transpire within the 70th week beginning from the emergence of false christs, then wars and rumors of wars, famines pestilences and earthquakes that bring the first half of the 70th week to a close. From the midpoint of the 70th week the Great Tribulation begins. Jesus told His disciples that the sign they asked Him about would occur after the Tribulation of those days. “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: 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.” ( Matt.24:29-31 ). So the sign of His Coming and of the end of the ages occur back-to-back but in reverse order. First is the sign of the end of the ages which is the cosmic and celestial disturbances. This sign will switch off the natural lights of the universe. The Sun will be darkened, the Moon will not give her light, and the Stars will fall from the heavens. The darkened and frozen state of the Earth caused by the sign of the end of the ages will be reversed by the sign of His Coming which is the appearance of the Shekinah in the heavens. There is only one sign but there are two components of this sign. When Christ appears in the heavens, He dispatches His angels to gather His elects from one end of the heavens to the other. Then and only after then shall the end of the ages begin which is the outpouring of the wrath of God on the unrighteous wicked who remain.
In His post resurrection message to His disciples, Jesus promised His disciples His presence with them till the end of the ages. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”( Matt.28:18-20 ). If His disciples will not be here till the end of the ages why would Jesus promise to be with them till the end of the ages? We see that the parousia occurs at the end of the ages. If the parousia occurs at the end of the ages, then the Rapture also occurs the the end of the ages because the Rapture occurs at the parousia. This conclusion is biblically accurate because Jesus told His disciples that he who endures unto the end ( of the ages ) shall be saved. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” ( Matt.10:22 ). This promise was made in relation to the Great Tribulation when the disciples shall be hated of of all nations on account of His name. Those who would be delivered from the Great Tribulation will be the faithful disciples who endure unto the end of the ages when the Great Tribulation will be amputated with the cosmic and celestial disturbances.
The End Of The Ages Occurs At The Breaking Of The Seventh Seal
The Olivet Discourse parallels the breaking of the seals in Rev.6-8. The fourth seal parallels the Great Tribulation. The fifth seal has no parallel in the Olivet Discourse because it is a heavenly scene. In the Olivet Discourse Christ was dealing with events on the Earth only. In the Scroll Of Revelation, He dealt with both earthly and heavenly events. The fifth seal is concurrent with the fourth seal. It is a heavenly reflection of the killings going here on Earth during the fourth seal, the Great Tribulation. The fifth seal will end when the number of saints destined to be martyred is complete. “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” ( Rev.13:10 ). The KJV translation is not helpful here. The correct translation would be “ If any man is destined to go into captivity, into captivity he goes: if any man is destined to be killed with the sword, with the sword , he shall be killed.” Those taken into captivity have been so destined, and those to be killed with the sword have also been so destined. Christ knows who they are. We do not know. Th secret things belong to God ( Deut.29:29 ).
The sixth seal corresponds with the cosmic and celestial disturbances, the sign of the end of the ages which indicates even to the unrighteous wicked earth-dwellers that God is about to punish them for the their evils. At the breaking of the sixth seal they seek non-existent refuge under the rocks and the mountains. “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 mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the
rocks of the mountains; 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: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” ( Rev.6:12-17 ). They know instinctively that the wrath of God to be poured out on them is about to begin.
There is an interlude between the sixth seal and the breaking of the seventh seal. This interlude in the Scroll Of Revelation corresponds with the appearance of the Shekinah in the Olivet Discourse. The appearance of the Shekinah in the heavens is not described in the Scroll Of Revelation. What is described is the appearance of the raptured saints in heaven in Rev.7:9-17. In the Olivet Discourse, Christ tells His disciples that at this juncture, the saints are gathered by the angelic reapers. In the Revelation account, He adds more details by revealing that the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel are sealed for protection during the impending wrath of God ( Rev.7:1-8 ). The innumerable multitude which no man could number from all tribes and nations are the raptured saints in heaven who came out of the Great Tribulation.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Rev.7:9-17 ).
This Great multitude who no one could number are the raptured saints in heaven. But the pretribs tell us they are Tribulation saints who are martyred for their faith. How this innumerable multitude will come to the faith in the time when their is no formal worship and all the good pastors and teachers, and saints are gone, develop the so great a faith and inner fortitude to resist the antiChrist and his killing machine, they profer no answer and the Scriptures are silent. But we can see that after this gathering in Heaven the wrath of God begins in Rev.8 after the breaking of the seventh seal. The same day the Church is raptured, the seventh seal is broken and the wrath of God begins. The seventh seal has no judgment of its own but opens into the seven trumpets. The seventh trumpet has no judgment of its own but opens in the seven bowls. The seven trumpets and seven bowls constitute the wrath of God. They begin at the breaking of the seventh seal.
The Harvest Is The End Of The Ages And The Reapers Are The Angels
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus is the Master who showed the good seed ( Matt.13:37 ). The good seed are the children of the kingdom ( 38a ). The tares are the children of the wicked one ( 38b ). The wicked one is the Devil ( 39a ). Because in the early stages of growth, the tares look like the real wheat, it will be impossible for the angelic reapers to separate the tares from the wheat ( 29 ). Therefore they must be allowed to grow together until maturation when the tares are clearly distinguishable from the real wheat ( 30 ). When they are ripe, the farmer harvests the tares first, bundles them into heaps at the edges of the farm to be burned later after the harvest of the real wheat ( 42 ). Jesus makes it clear the harvest is the end of the ages, and the reapers are the angels ( 39b ). As we have shown, the end of the ages occurs after the Great Tribulation and the cosmic and celestial disturbances which interrupt the Great Tribulation. The wheat and the tares come to maturation during the Great Tribulation when the tares are marked for destruction with the mark of the Beast during the day of the Lord. Without the Great Tribulation, the angelic reapers cannot distinguish the tares from the wheat. The tares will be burned in the day of the Lord which occurs at the end of the ages. This is the message of the third angel: “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” ( Rev.14:9-12 ).
There is no separation before the Great Tribulation. As a matter of fact, the purpose of the Great Tribulation is to separate the wheat from the tares in order to enable the angelic reapers to conduct the harvest of the real wheat. When the marking of the tares is complete during the Great Tribulation, and the full complement of the saints to be martyred is reached, God cuts short the Great Tribulation with the sign given in the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Then the Shekinah appears in the heavens as Jesus descends to the sky from the Heaven with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. The angelic reapers can now do their job of reaping the real wheat, the true believers who not only believe in Jesus but have not the mark of the Beast. This is the Prewrath Rapture Of The Church. Thereafter, the wrath of God begins in the Day Of The Lord At The End Of The Ages which corresponds with the breaking of the seventh seal. This is the same sequence of events occurs in Rev.14. The third angel announces the wrath of God on those with the mark of the Beast. This is followed by the final harvest in two stages. First the real wheat are harvested into the barn ( Rev.14:14-16 ). This is followed by the second harvest which is the wrath of God on the unrighteous wicked ( Rev.14:17-20 ). It ends in a bloodbath at Armageddon. The height of blood reaches up to the horse bridle, about 1.5 meters, and covers a distance of about 188 kilometers. The Armageddon Campaign begins in the vicinity of Jerusalem with the remnants of the armies of the nations surrounding Israel who are part of the Eight Beast Empire involved in the Jehoshaphat Campaign which occurs shortly before the amputation of the Great Tribulation, and ends in a final bloodbath involving the armies of all the nations of the Earth on Mount Megiddo in the valley of Esdraelon.
The Pretrib Rapture Position teaches harvest before maturation which Jesus says is impossible. The Prewrath Rapture Of The Church is in consonance with the clear unforced interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the tares. Jesus interpreted this parable Himself. We have added nothing to His interpretation of the parable. We have simply analyzed His interpretation and applied it to the eschatological timeline. The result is obvious to any honest exegete of the word of God. For further clarification see my article on the parable of the wheat and the tares, https://mtzionheritage.com/the-parable-of-the-wheat-and-the-tares/.
My Objections To A Brother Whose View On The Rapture Is Pretribulational ( 2 )
The Fifth Seal: Martyrs Under The Altar
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” ( Rev.6:9-11 ).
Biblical scholars have long recognized the parallelism between the Olivet Discourse in Matt.24, and Rev.6. But when we examine the Olivet Prophecy in Matt.24, we observe that there is no segment of it parallel to the Fifth Seal ( Rev.6:9-11 ). The reason is simply because the Fifth Seal is in its entirety a heavenly scene. Christ is the author of both the Olivet Discourse and the Scroll Of Revelation. In the Olivet Discourse, Christ tells us what is going on here on Earth during the 70th Week of Daniel. In the Scroll Of Revelation, He gives more light by showing what is going on Earth as well as in heaven. He wants us to know that He is in sovereign control of the events both on Earth as well as in heaven. This does not mean however, that He is responsible for the activities of wicked men. God permits evil, but does not approve of it, neither does He perpetrate it.
The first four seals of Rev.6 are sequential, consecutive and progressive. But the Fifth Seal is concurrent, coincident, and simultaneous with the fourth seal. The Fifth Seal does not advance the chronology of events here on Earth in the 70th week of Daniel. It occurs in heaven during the fourth seal. In consonance with the parallelism of the Olivet Discourse and Rev.6, the fourth seal is the Great Tribulation. During the Great Tribulaion, believers are being hounded, ferreted out and killed, and some taken captive. Our Lord Jesus told us in the Olivet Discourse believers shall be led captive into all nations ( Luk.21:24 ). The Scroll Of Revelation tells us that those who will be taken captive were so destined. “He that is destined to go into captivity, into captivity he goes; and the he that is destined to be killed with the sword, with the sword the one shall be killed.” ( Rev.13:10 ). The Great Tribulation shall be worldwide but the epicenter shall be the Land of Israel and its capital city, Jerusalem.
During the Great Tribulation, the fourth seal, believers are being killed, and their disembodied spirits and souls are arriving in heaven. There is no distance in the realm of the spirit. As soon as these believers are killed, their disembodied spirits and souls arrive in heaven and are quartered under the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place in the Temple Of God in Heaven. Remember that the Tabernacle in the wilderness was patterned after the Temple of God in Heaven. God reminded Moses: “ see that thou do everything according to the pattern shown thee on the Holy Mount.” ( Exod.29:9,40; Heb.8:5b ). No Israelite who is not of the High priestly family of Aaron has access into the Holy Place, not even the Levites. In like manner, no Israelite who is not the High Priest, and of the family of Aaron has access into the Holy Of Holies, and that once a year, only on the Day Of Atonement, and after he has offered sacrifices for himself and the errors of the people of Israel ( Heb.9:6,7 ). Any violations of these ordinances attracted the death penalty.
That the Fifth Seal martyrs merited to be quartered under the Golden Altar Of Incense in the Holy Place Of The Temple in Heaven indicates that they were priests. And Christ has made us kings and priests. “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” ( Rev.1:4-6 ).
The Fifth Seal martyrs asked God how long it would be before He avenges their death on their murderers. If the wrath of God has already begun in the Day Of The Lord from the commencement of the 70th week as pretribs teach, would it not have been proper for God to tell them:
“ Can’t you see, I have already begun to punish those wicked murderers: the antiChrist has emerged on the World Stage, he has formed a coalition of ten nations. He has also tried to win the rest of the nations of the world to his side through subtle peace diplomacy. That has failed, and he has now resorted to war. There are wars and commotions, rumors and threats of wars. Nations have risen up against nations and kingdom against kingdom, and as a result, there are famines, pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places. My servant Michael has cast down my enemy Satan to the Earth. He is now angry with the inhabitants of the Earth, knowing that he has but a short time. He has possessed the antiChrist who has moved his headquarters to Jerusalem. He has desecrated my Temple, and is demanding that men worship him in place of Me. He is killing my saints who refuse to worship him, and that is how your souls come to be under the altar in my temple in heaven?” ( Rev.6,12,13 ).
Ridiculous you would say, and you are right. How can the antiChrist come to power in the Day Of The Lord and complish all these things including the martyrdom of the Fifth Seal martyrs at a time when God alone is to be exalted, in the day no man shall be exalted and the haughtiness of men brought low, in the Day when the idols shall be abolished, and the gods that had not made the heavens and the Earth perish from under the Earth and under these heavens? ( Isa.2:18-22; Jere.10:11 ).
If the wrath of God had already begun, they did not need to wait: in fact, there would have been no need for their question how long. God admonished them to wait until their fellow saints to be martyred had been accomplished. There is a certain number of saints to be martyred. It is a secret number known only to God. The secret things belong to God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and our children ( Deut.29:29 ). Those to be martyred were so destined, and those to be taken captive were also so destined. This is the patience and faith of the saints ( Rev.13:10 ). It is a display of ignorance to denigrate and cast aspersions on the Fifth Seal martyrs, and to make them the butt of a joke of being made the “bottom” of the altar. The Scripture did not say they were made the “bottom” of the altar, but that they were kept under the altar pending the completion of the number of the saints to be martyred during the Great Tribulation that was going on at that time.
If the Great Tribulation were allowed to run throughout the whole length of the three and one-half years allotted to the antiChrist, no believer will be left alive to be raptured. But because some believers must be raptured alive, God will cut short the Great Tribulation ( Matt.24:22 ). Also no Jew or Gentile who did not take the Mark of the Beast will survive the second half of the 70th week. But some Jews will survive and be reconciled to God on the 3rd day of the 30-day Reclamation Period when the Mystery Of God is finished and His spiritual kingdom complete ( Rev.10:7 ). And some Gentiles will survive the second half of the 70th week to appear at the Sheep And Goat Judgment ( Matt.25:31-46 ). The Sheep will be justified to enter the Millennium in their mortal bodies to repopulate the Earth alongside their Jewish counterpart.
God will cut short the Great Tribulation with cosmic and celestial disturbances ( Matt.24:29-31 ). This is the sixth seal which will send all the wicked scurrying for non-existent cover and protection under the rocks and mountains in lieu of the wrath of the Lamb before which no man shall be able to stand, abruptly bringing the Great Tribulation to a halt ( Rev.6:12-17 ). The Fifth Seal martyrs were executed for the word of God and the testimony which they held. They should be admired and congratulated not denigrated and disparaged.
We must distinguish the wrath of God from the wrath of Satan ( Rev.6:16; 12:12 ). The wrath of Satan comes first and is directed against the saints of the Most High. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” ( Rev.13:7-10 ).
The wrath of God comes last and is directed against the wicked Earth-dwellers who worship the antiChrist and the Great Dragon and have murdered the saints of the Most High during the Great Tribulation. This is the theology of the second. Carnal things first before spiritual things. “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” ( 1 Cor.15:46-49 ). The saints must be tested first to purify them before the sinners shall be subjected to the wrath of God.
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” ( Eph.5:3-8 ).
Apart from the sins listed in the above quoted segment of the Scriptures, the other reason anyone would be subjected to God’s wrath is to take the mark of allegiance to the antiChrist. “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” ( Rev.14:9-12 ).
God will recompense tribulation ( the wrath of God ) to those who have troubled us the saints during the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist ( 2 Thess.1:6 ). It takes time for sin to pile up to heaven. God cannot punish the wicked until their cup of iniquity is full. Until they have killed the saints in a rage that reaches up to heaven, God cannot begin to punish them for their evils. The wrath of God does not begin until after the breaking of the sixth seal.
The first four seals have nothing to do with the wrath of God, but have everything to do with the wrath of Satan; in fact, the Great Tribulation is the Great wrath of Satan which does not begin until Satan is cast down to the Earth at the midpoint of the 70th week and possesses the antiChrist ceding his power and authority unto him to act on his behalf, and the Restrainer is removed. As Christ is God’s representative on Earth to administer His wrath against the wicked Earth-dwellers and worshippers and adorers of the Dragon-Beast, so also is the antiChrist Satan’s representative on Earth to administer his wrath against the saints of the Most High, the Jews and Gentiles, who reject his Mark of allegiance.
The Fifth Seal martyrs were not feeble saints who missed the first round up, for the Rapture has not yet occurred. The Scriptures make it clear in both the Olivet Discourse and the Scroll Of Revelation that the Rapture occurs after the Tribulation of those days, after the breaking of the sixth seal with the attendant cosmic and celestial disturbances, shortly before the breaking of the seventh seal. The same day the Shekinah ( the appearance of the Son Of Man ) appears in the heavens, the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel are sealed for protection, and the saints raptured to take them away from the scene of the Great Tribulation and the wrath of God which is about to begin at the breaking of the seventh seal ( Matt.24:29-31; Mk.13:24-27; Rev.7:1-17 ).
My Objections To A Brother Whose View On The Rapture Is Pretribulational ( 1 )
There is not a single verse in both 1 & 2 Thessalonians that teaches either explicitly or implicitly that some Christians shall be raptured and receive glorified eternal immortal resurrection bodies pretribulationally before the antiChrist is revealed. Rather it teaches that that day in which the rapture will take place will not occur until two events take place ( 2 Thess.2:3 ). First, the Man Of Sin, the Son Of Perdition, the antiChrist must be revealed ( unveiled ). Second, there shall be an apostasia ( Hellenistic, Classical Greek: apostasis ), a falling away from the Faith. The massive abandonment of the Christian Faith will be precipitated by the unveiling of the antiChrist as a dead man who ruled over one of the seven previous Beast Empires of Satan, was killed with a military weapon in battle, descended into the abyss, and ascends from there to rule over the Eighth And Final Beast Empire of Satan ( Rev.13:3, 17:8 ). He will demand to be worshipped by all mortals. He will use food and commerce as bargaining chips ( Rev.13:17 ). His unveiling will take place in the yet to be rebuilt Third Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. This is the abomination of desolation which will occur at the midpoint of the 70th week ( Dan.9:27; Matt.24:15; Mk.13:14 ). It is concurrent and coincident with the invasion of Jerusalem by the armies of the antiChrist ( Luk.21: 20-24 ). For clarity, consult this article: https://mtzionheritage.com/?s=Two+critical+events.
The Holy Spirit as the restrainer is another pretrib mantra. It is not revealed any where in the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer. The Holy Spirit cannot hitchhike with the Church at the Rapture. The Holy Spirit as the Third Person Of The Godhead, the Trinity, has always been here. He was here at the Creation. He glided over the waters ( Gen.1:1-2 ). He anointed Moses and the prophets of Israel. Jesus was anointed of the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the Devil Act.10:38 ). That was before Pentecost. At Pentecost, a new relationship between man and God was created within the framework of a new order, the New Covenant. After the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will still be here. As God He is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. The two witnesses will be uniquely and extraordinarily anointed of the Holy Spirit ( Rev.11 ).
The restrainer is not an NT doctrine. It is Christian scholars who debate about his identity. The restrainer is an OT doctrine. His identity has been known in Judaism for hundreds of years before Christianity. His identity has been revealed by jewish scholars like Rashi. He is archangel Michael who stands for the people of God ( Dan.12:1 ). His identity is known to Paul’s immediate audience in 2 Thess.2:6-8. That is why Paul did not bother to name him in that passage. After he casts Satan down to the Earth at the midpoint of the 70th week, he shall “amad,” that is stop doing what he normally does which is restraining the Devil. Then there shall be Great Tribulation ( Rev.12:7-9 ). When Satan is cast down to the Earth, he shall possess the antiChrist who shall declare himself God ( Rev.13:2 ). Satan has Great wrath when cast down to the Earth because he knows he has a short time. He will go to make war with the remnant of the seed of the woman who keep the commandment of God ( observant Jews who repudiate his authority by refusal to bear his Mark of allegiance, the Mark of the Beast ), and those who have the testimony of Jesus ( the believers who refuse to take the Mark of the Beast ). Who are those who have the testimony of Jesus? Are they not believers in Jesus The Christ? They are some of the greats of the saints at this momentous hour of history. How can they be feeble saints left behind to bear the brunt of the antiChrist’s reign of terror?
There are no Scriptures that teach that there are two phases of the Christ’s Second Advent. The Greek word Parousia translated coming is a compound word consisting of para and ousia which mean coming and subsequent presence with. Like the First Advent, there is a series of events like the annunciation, the birth of Christ, the presentation in the Temple, His temptation, His three year Ministry, arrest, trial and condemnation, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, appearances to His disciples, ascension and session and intercessary ministry at the right hand of the Throne Of The Father at the Throne Room in the Temple in Heaven ( Heb.7:25 ). The Second Advent begins with the breaking of the 6th seal which begins with a massive earthquake, followed by cosmic disturbances that darkens the heavens and freezes the Earth ( Rev.6:12,13 ). This shall be followed by the appearance of the Shekinah in the heavens, which is the sign of the coming of the Son of Man in the heavens ( Matt.24:29,30 ). When the Shekinah appears in the heavens, the saints are advised to look up, for their redemption draweth nigh ( Luk.21:28 ). If the rapture had already taken place, what is their redemption at this time? The Shekinah is the visible manifestation of the Yahweh of Israel. Every eye shall see Him when He appears in the darkened heavens with an entourage of angels who will blow the trumpet and gather His elect from one end of the heavens to the other to meet the Lord in the air ( 1 Thess.4:14-17 ). So the Rapture annot be silent, quiet or secret as pretribs teach. Quite the opposite, the heavens shall blaze it forth.
The trumpet will be blown. Christ will dispatch His angels to gather His elect from the fours corners of the Earth. But before then, the 144,000 must be reconciled to God and sealed for protection with the name of God ( Rev.7:1-8, 14:1 ). God will not leave Himself without a witness. It is like the handing over of a baton in a relay race. The Church will be taken away in the Rapture, and the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel will become God’s witness on Earth. Then the 7th seal shall be broken and the wrath of God begins. After the wrath of God which ends at Armageddon at the end of the 30-day Reclamation Period, the whole Earth will be renovated during the 45-day Restoration Period, and Christ coronated by the Father in Heaven to reign over the Earth in the Millenium. These series of events constitute the Second Coming Of The Lord. There is no silent or secret rapture anywhere in the Scriptures. That is a pretrib concoction and fabrication. The people of the Earth who see His appearance like lightning in the heavens shall mourn ( Matt.24:29-31; Rev.1:7 ). See article on The Tribulation The Great: https://mtzionheritage.com/?s=The+Great+Tribulation.
The Sheep and the Goats are not Christians as you have rightly pointed out. They are Gentiles unbelievers who did not take the Mark of the Beast who survived the Great Tribulation and the wrath of God. The basis of their judgment is how they treated the Lord’s brethren ( Jews and believers ) during the Great Tribulation ( Matt.25:31-46 ). The Sheep shall be justified to enter and repopulate the Earth in the Millennium alongside their Jewish counterpart who survive the Great Tribulation and the wrath of God, specifically the first six trumpet judgments.
Your view of and comment on the 5th seal matters is both fallacious and egregious at the same time ( Rev.6:9-11 ). The pretribs have always denigrated these wonderful saints as spiritual weaklings who could not make the first round up. This is totally false. These were martyred for “the word of God and the testimony which they held.” They were quartered under the the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place in the Temple in heaven from where they make their plea of vengeance to God. They are referred to as souls because they have not received their glorified eternal immortal resurrection bodies because the Rapture has not yet taken place. They were instructed by God to wait until their fellow believers who were to killed is complete. There is certain number of believers to be martyred before God can interrupt the Great Tribulation with cosmic and celestial disturbances. This number is not revealed to us. The secret things belong to God ( Deut.29:29 ).
The patience of the saints during the Great Tribulation is that if anyone is destined to killed with the sword, with the sword, the one shall be killed; and if anyone is destined to go into captivity, the one shall be taken into captivity ( Rev.13:10 ). The KJV translation of this verse is faulty, and does not reflect the original meaning of the Greek. At the time these saints made their plea to God, the killing was still going on here on Earth under the 4th seal which is the Great Tribulation. The 5th seal is entirely a heavenly scene, a reflection of the killings going here on Earth. It is therefore concurrent, coincident, and simultaneous with the 4th seal. The other seals are progressive and consecutive. There is no distance in the real of the spirit. The souls and spirits of the 5th seal martyrs arrive in heaven as soon as they killed here on Earth. Whatever happens to the saints who are taken captive if the rapture has already taken place? The 5th seal martyrs are raptured with the others in Rev.7:9-17. They are not inferior to the other saints at all. If anything, they are highly honored. If the wrath of God has begun at the commencement of the 70th week as pretribs teach, then God should be held accountable for the death of the 5th seal martyrs. This is utter nonsense. Please read my refutation, a critique and rebuttal of Dr. Dave Williams 20 pieces of counsel or advice to those left behind after the Rapture: https://mtzionheritage.com/?s=Critique+and+rebuttal.
Christ will come as a thief for those who do not known the times and the seasons. Those who are in darkness. We the saints are not in darkness. We are of the day being children of light, not of night nor of darkness. That day cannot come upon us unawares ( 1 Thess.5:1-13 ). We cannot know the day and the hour of His coming but we can know the general time period. The Fig tree is a sign of approximation not the symbol of Israel as you taught in your book ( Matt.24:32-35 ). In the Lukan account ( Luk.2129-33 ), it says “and all the trees.” All the trees cannot be the symbol of Israel. When those in the temperate region see the Fig tree and all the trees begin to sprout after the Fall and the Winter and the rain in the Spring, they know that Summer is near. Likewise when we see the events of the 70th week of Daniel begin to unfold, we know that the coming of the Lord draws near. This generation shall not pass till these things be fulfilled ( Matt.24:34 ). The generation of believers that shall enter the 70th week, experience the horrors of the Great Tribulation perpetrated by the antiChrist and his acolytes shall be the generation of believers that shall be raptured alive. That generation shall witness the end of the Ages at which point in the eschatological timeline that the rapture occurs. The end of the Ages is the point of transition from this age to the age to come which is the Millennial reign of Christ. For details, see my article on the Fig Tree: https://mtzionheritage.com/123-2/. See also the article on the parable Of The Wheat And The Tares: https://mtzionheritage.com/the-parable-of-the-wheat-and-the-tares/.