Welcome back, Bible study friends! We’re closing out a 3-part series discussing 7 reasons the church will not go through the tribulation, and we have considered 5 of the 7 reasons. If you are just finding your way to this study, you will find the first two reasons discussed in part 1 and three additional reasons discussed in part 2. There are actually many more reasons, but 7 seems like a sufficient number! Let’s get a running start into the last two that we will discuss:
- Reason #1: The Tribulation is Jewish in Context
- Reason #2: There are other Historical, Biblical Parallels in which God Removed People from Judgment
- Reason #3: Specific Promises to the Church Alone
- Reason #4: Jesus’s Location with His Church
- Reason #5: The Gentile Believers at the Second Coming
Reason #6: The Ministry of the 24 Elders in Heaven
Revelation 4-19 clearly describe the tribulation time period. Following the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3, the church is not heard of again until Revelation 19. Where did the church go? If it is still on the earth, why don’t we hear anything about it during the tribulation? The ministry of the 24 elders may give us a clue.
Exactly who are these elders, spoken of from Revelation 4-19? They are obviously heavenly beings during the tribulation, as they are always put in the context of worshiping God during that period. Some say they are angels, which is debunked when you consider Revelation 7:11, which tells us “…the angels stood around the throne and the elders…” If the elders are angels, did they stand around themselves?
Others say the 24 elders are the 12 tribes of Israel plus the 12 disciples. Perhaps that could be, but I am unaware of any clear Biblical evidence of that, thus it seems like a convenience of numbers.
However, take a look at 1 Chronicles 24:1,4-5. It is important to understand context here. Verse 1 indicates creation of divisions of the descendants of Aaron for service in the temple. This passage indicates 24 divisions of officers in the sanctuary and before God. Aaron and his descendants were of the tribe of Levi…the priestly tribe. They were priests! Now read 1 Peter 2:1-2, 9-10.
- Based on verses 1-2, who do you think Peter is writing to?
- How does he describe these believers in Christ in verses 9-10?
- In light of our discussion so far, does the phrase “royal priesthood” catch your attention? If so, why?
Yes! As believers, we have been brought into the “divisions” of priests! We are royal priests because we belong to Him! Might the elders represent believers?
Now, to make sure we get the setting correct, where are the elders in every one of these verses…on earth or in heaven? (Use this link to scroll to each of the verses below.)
- Revelation 4:4, 10
- Revelation 5:6, 8
- Revelation 7:11, 13
- Revelation 11:16
- Revelation 14:3
- Revelation 19:4
If they are in heaven during the tribulation, it is obviously logical they are not on earth during the tribulation!
So, who are these guys? They are not angels (Revelation 5:11). They are not living creatures (Revelation 5:8). They are not multitudes of Gentiles (Revelation 7:9, 11, 13). They are not the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. The elders represent the New Testament church, confirming that the church will not go through the tribulation, but will be raptured BEFORE it!
Reason #7: Location of the Church’s Meeting with Jesus
This one is a no-brainer! Read 1 Thessalonians 4:17 again. Where does Paul say we will meet Jesus?
Remember: the rapture and the Second Coming are not the same! In the rapture, we get caught up in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air. At Jesus’s Second Coming, Zechariah 14:3-4 tells us His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. That is no rapture at all! Besides, remember that bride in fine linen? That’s the church at the wedding feast in heaven. Couple that with Revelation 19:11-4, and we find those in fine linen (us!) following Jesus on white horses as He returns to end the tribulation! How can we return with Him if the rapture doesn’t happen until after this?
There you have it…7 iron-clad, Bible-based reasons the church will not go through the tribulation! Believe it or not, the prophet Isaiah prophesied this in a very unusual, but now recognizable, way in Isaiah 26:19. There is way too much to unpack in that passage now, but consider these nuances:
- The dead in Christ will rise, just as Jesus did!
- The earth will cast out the dead in Christ at the rapture.
- We, His people, will “enter our chamber,” the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven, and the door will be shut to all others.
- We will “hide there” as tribulation rages on earth.
- The Lord will “come out of His place,” will return to earth in His Second Coming, and will put a stop to the raging battle, ending the tribulation.
John 14:1-3 is such a precious promise. The Bridegroom left this earth to go to His Father’s place to prepare a home for His bride…the church. He promises to return for us, and He promises to rescue us from the wrath that is to come. We have discovered at least 7 reasons why we can be absolutely certain of it!
Dear reader, if you do not know Jesus Christ personally, you do not have a ticket for the ride! You will miss the rapture, and will be left behind to deal with hell on earth, which the Bible describes as the tribulation. After that is eternity in hell, separated from God forever, and living in a real place meant for Satan and his demons. We want you to join us in the glorious rapture, and eternity with Jesus. If you do not know Jesus personally, or if you are not sure, today is the day of salvation! Nothing you have ever done will disqualify you! I’m praying for you! Please jump on board!