Yesterday, we began examining 7 reasons why the church will not go through the tribulation, but we only got through 2 of the 7 reasons. If you missed the first two, click on the link above before moving on today.
For context, keep in mind there are significant differences between the rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus. The rapture is a time when Jesus will descend from heaven to “catch up” believers in the air and take us to heaven to enjoy a huge 7-year celebration with Him. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
Meanwhile, on earth, the tribulation will rage for those 7 years. We learned yesterday that the tribulation is Jewish in context. That is because the tribulation is the time God will deal with Israel’s sin and, as Romans 11:26 tells us, all Israel will be saved. The book of Revelation describes the tribulation as a terribly hellish 7-year period, ruled by the Antichrist. The Second Coming of Jesus happens at the end of that 7-year period, in which He will put an end to the tribulation and save His people, the Jews.
Despite those who believe otherwise, the Bible clearly teaches that the church (Christians, the body of Christ) will not go through the tribulation, but will be caught up in the rapture beforehand. There are at least 7 clear, Biblical reasons that is true. We covered the first two yesterday:
- Reason #1: The Tribulation is Jewish in Context
- Reason #2: There are other Historical, Biblical Parallels in which God Removed People from Judgment
Get your Bible and be ready to use it! Now, let’s move on:
Reason #3: Specific Promises to the Church Alone
You should be familiar with 1 Thessalonians 1:10 by now, so please review it.
- Stop for a moment and consider to whom Paul is writing. Are they believers or non-believers? What do we know about the Thessalonians and their relationship to Paul? Why is he writing them?
- In that verse, who is to “wait for His Son from heaven?”
- What are they waiting for?
- What will Jesus do?
Paul is speaking to a bunch of brand new believers in Thessalonica to teach them about the rapture. They are the “church” (the body of Christ) and they are waiting for the return of Jesus to deliver them from the wrath that is to come! To whom is the promise made?
Now, move on to 1 Thessalonians 5:4-9.
- Verses 5-7 contrast two groups of people. Who are they?
- What do you think it means to be “children of light?” Who are those people?
- What is God’s instruction in verse 8?
- What is His promise in verse 9?
- To whom did God make that promise? Do you see why the promise is to the church?
In Revelation 2-3, Jesus sends personal instruction to 7 churches. One of those churches is the church at Philadelphia, (Revelation 3:7-13). In verse 10, Jesus is specific in stating, “I will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” He is speaking of that which comes in the following chapters: the tribulation.
These are clear examples of specific promises made to the church alone. This is reason #3 why the church will not go through the tribulation.
Reason #4: Jesus’s Location with His Church
Revelation 2:1 and Revelation 3:20 provide perspective of where Jesus was historically in relation to His church (the body of Christ). Read those two verses to determine where Jesus has been, in relation to His church. (Hint: in Revelation 2:1, the reference to “seven golden lampstands” represents the 7 churches.)
Likewise, Jesus is talking to His disciples in Matthew 28:20, just before He ascends to heaven, and says, “Lo, I am with you always.” Prior to that, Jesus stated in Matthew 18:20 that where two or more are gathered in His name (the church!), He will be in their midst. Based on those passages, with whom does Jesus dwell?
There came a time, though, when Jesus departed. Read John 14:1-3.
- Why did He depart?
- What is Jesus doing right now?
- Did He leave us as orphans here on earth? (See John 14:16-18 and John 15:26)
- In ancient Hebrew culture (and to some degree still today), before a young man took a bride, he would spend time at his father’s place, preparing a home for the new bride. When his father inspected things and was certain his son was ready, he would send his son to marry the woman and bring her home.
- What does that tell you about your future with Jesus?
- Where do you expect to live out your life with Him?
- Think of this: not literally, but figuratively and symbolically, the Bible seems to use marriage to describe the relationship between God and Israel, and between Jesus Christ and the church.
Now, let’s consider what the Bible says about our future during the tribulation. In Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 19, Jesus is in heaven, and according to Revelation 19:7-8:
- Who is with Him?
- What is the church called in that passage?
- What is the church (body of Christ) wearing?
- What does the fine linen represent?
- Who are the saints?
Friends, where are we during the tribulation?
Reason #5: The Gentile Believers at the Second Coming
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is familiar, but read it once again. Who are the “dead in Christ?” In verse 17, when Paul says, “we,” to whom is he referring? These are Gentiles, citizens of Thessalonica, and children of God!
At the time of the rapture, believers in Christ who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and to live with Him forever. However, the Bible indicates there will be believers here on earth during the tribulation. It will not be that some get left behind, but that some Gentiles will place their faith in Jesus Christ. That is a very unlikely thing, though, as 2 Thessalonians 2:11 tells us there will be strong delusion, causing most to believe the lies of the Antichrist. (Perhaps it is this delusion that causes Jews to fall into the deceptive trap of the Antichrist.)
Thus, raptured saints will escape physical death, but tribulational saints will be brutally murdered (beheaded) for their faith. (See Revelation 13:15 and Revelation 20:4.) Every single one of them. All Gentiles who refuse the mark of the beast and turn to Jesus Christ instead will die for their faith! This means, without a pre-tribulation rapture, every believer will be beheaded.
The last verse of 1 Thessalonians 4 says, “Therefore, encourage (comfort) one another with these words.” How is beheading a comfort or an encouragement to anyone? The church must avoid the tribulation by rapture in order for that encouragement to be reliable!
Are you beginning to see the picture? Those who hold to a post-tribulational rapture have significant theological problems! The Bible indeed teaches that the Lord will rescue us from the wrath that is to come! Though He promises to be with us IN the storms of this life, His promise is to rescue us FROM the wrath that is to come. There is no greater wrath than the tribulation! Take heart, believers…He will come for us, just as He said He would! Maranatha!
We have now covered 5 of the 7 reasons the church will not go through the tribulation. There are two more and we will talk about those tomorrow! See you then!