Wow, I am really enjoying digging into God’s Word in our study of 1 Thessalonians, and I hope you are, too. Thank you for joining me on this journey! The last two lessons (Rapture: The Hope of His Coming and Meeting the Lord in the Air) were especially exciting, as we got into the rapture and how it takes place. Before we move on to chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians, I want to give you 7 Biblical arguments proving a pre-tribulational rapture.
As believers, there is no need to lose hope or worry about the tribulational signs that we see all around us! The Bible provides clear evidence that the church (believers in Christ) will not go through the tribulation! This is important because the Bible teaches us to wait (1 Corinthians 1:7-8, Hebrews 9:27-28) , watch (Mark 13:33-37) and be ready (Matthew 25:1-13) for Jesus’s appearing in the clouds to take us home! We ought to have assurance that He will fulfill His promises, just as He always has.
There is a significant difference between the rapture, when Jesus descends in the clouds (but does not step foot on earth) to “catch us up” to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and the Second Coming, when Jesus physically returns to the earth to put an end to the tribulation. Those who belong to Jesus will be “caught up” in the rapture and will be instantly changed. Then we will return with Jesus at His Second Coming to rule with Him during the Millennial Kingdom (Zechariah 14), following the tribulation.
However, there are 4 theological positions (2 of which have no credence to speak of) regarding when the rapture will occur:
- Pre-tribulation: those who believe the rapture will take before the tribulation. For most evangelical scholars, this is the only position that makes sense Biblically, and the 7 reasons we discuss today and tomorrow will illustrate why.
- Mid-tribulation: those who believe the rapture will take place in the middle of the tribulation. This position has very rarely held any credibility with Bible scholars. The primary argument against it is that the Bible says no one knows the day or the hour of the rapture, yet the Bible is very specific about the number of days once the 7 year tribulation begins. If we know those number of days, we would know the day and hour of the rapture! There are other significant fallacies as well, some of which are similar to those of post-tribulation beliefs.
- Post-tribulation: those who believe the rapture will take place at the end of the tribulation. Similar argument as mid-trib, though some scholars hold to this belief, and are able to make a better defense for it than mid-trib. We will consider significant Biblical evidence, though, why this position lacks credibility.
- There will not be a rapture at all because it is only symbolic in Scripture. Similar to mid-trib belief, there is little to no logical argument for this position, and no true Bible scholar I know of holds to this belief.
We’re going to go on deep Bible dives, so have your Bible handy, or click the links provided. It is imperative that you see for yourself what Scripture has to say. Lessons will be kept as condensed as possible, so please don’t skip Scripture reading. Let’s go!
Reason #1: The Tribulation is Jewish in Context
Everything Scripture says about the tribulation is Jewish in context, teaching, words and symbols. The body of believers is not mentioned in context of experiencing the tribulation…only Jews. For example, consider Matthew 24:15-22:
- The “abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel” is clearly a reference to the Jewish prophet Daniel who prophesied the 7 year tribulation. At the mid-point of the 7 years, the Antichrist will enter the temple and demand to be worshiped for the remaining 3.5 years of the tribulation. That is what Daniel refers to as the “abomination of desolation.” (Daniel 9:24-27) Would you say that passage is Jewish in context?
- Matthew 24:16 references those who flee from Judea during the tribulation. Where is Judea? Would you say this is Jewish in context?
- In verse 20 of that chapter there is concern about having to flee on the Sabbath. Would you say that is Jewish in context?
Jeremiah 30:7, 11 reference the tribulation. Do you find Jewish context in those verses? Verse 7 hint: Jacob was the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, and his name was changed. Do you know the new name he was given? (Genesis 32:28) The tribulation is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” because God will deal solely with Israel, to bring them to repentance. Verse 11 hint: who will the Lord save after having been scattered?
- Who is the Lord protecting in these verses?
- Are you aware of any verses in the Bible that indicate the Lord protects the church (Christians) during the tribulation?
- If you do not know of any such verses, why do you believe there is no reason for the Lord to protect the church during that time?
Though the Jewish people once rejected Jesus as Messiah (Matthew 23:37-39), the day will come when the veil is lifted from their eyes and all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26). That is the tribulation. The context is always Jewish and the church is never mentioned in regard to the tribulation.
Reason #2: There are other Historical, Biblical Parallels in which God Removed People from Judgment
1 Thessalonians 1:10 tells us that Jesus will rescue us from the day of wrath. But why would God do that? Has He ever done it before?
The answer is yes, He has rescued others from wrath because of His righteousness and favor. Consider these examples:
- Enoch. Enoch lived during the time leading up to Noah. He saw the sin on the earth and understood the ungodliness happening. Still, Jude 1:14-15 indicates that Enoch prophesied of the Lord’s coming with ten thousand of His saints! He knew Jesus was coming back, and he sounded the alarm! What happened to Enoch because of his faithfulness and God’s goodness? (Genesis 5:24) What do you think it means when the verse says, “God took him?”
- Noah. You know the account of Noah…what did he do, and why did he do it? Yet, God removed Noah and his family from judgment. See Genesis 7:16. Luke 17:26-27 tell us that, just as in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man (last days).
- Lot. While you’re in Luke 17, move on to verses 28-29. Lot was also in the midst of great evil in Sodom and Gomorrah, but again, God spared Lot from judgment.
- Rahab. The gentile harlot was redeemed by the scarlet red cord. Read Joshua 6:15-18. You may recognize this as Joshua’s conquest of Jericho, but did you know a prostitute and her family were saved from judgment?
You see, it is not unusual for God to save from judgment those who belong to Him! There is no need for the body of Christ to go through the tribulation. Why would any Bridegroom put His bride through that? He will save us from the day of wrath! That is the second reason the church will not go through the tribulation!
You’ve done good work today as we uncovered 2 of the 7 reasons the church will not go through the tribulation! Bible study friends, I want you to know there is plenty of evidence in God’s Word assuring us we will not go through the tribulation. I hope you are encouraged as we “build the case!” Stick with us, because we’re far from done! See you right back here tomorrow!