“ISRAEL TODAY...I don’t know what that means . . . .”
Pre-Trib vs. Post-Trib
Those who affirm a literal 1,000 year Millennium upon the earth is near are anxiously awaiting the Second Coming of Christ to affect such a tranquility—and all the more as the current course of earthly efforts seem to be reaching their expiration. We find ourselves as Rick Wiles of TruNews conjectures: We’re no longer watching the train wreck, we’re on the train!
The timing of the “end of the age” (Matthew 24) was much on the minds of Jesus’ disciples—but He, unlike Rick Warren, didn’t shine the brethren on and tell them “the details of my return are none of your business” but gave a copious accounting of events as they pertain to the lead up to the end and then set forth a series of parables we’ve classified as the “parables of readiness” in anticipation of His Second Coming (Matthew 24:36-51; 25)
At issue (and there are a number of them) among the “brethren” who attest to the seriousness of these parables of readiness in blessed anticipation of the Coming of the Son of Man is this: Is today’s Israel (even in unbelief insofar as their rampant agnosticism, even atheism and certainly unbelief in the first coming of Messiah) a major SIGN of the Second Coming of the Son of Man or perhaps a fluke of history and, alas, a “possibility” but not an absolute fulfillment of Bible prophecy?
Secondarily, what does Israel’s materiality have to do with the Church if the Church is raptured prior to the “time of Jacob’s Trouble”? In other words those who embrace a “pre-trib” posture affirm that the “Blessed Hope” relieves the Church of any possible witness in the final, and yet future, Seventieth Week of Daniel’s final seven years and assigns all tribulation prospects (for this is one monster train wreck we’re on) to the hapless “earthlings” and, of course, the Jews who are stuck with the Antichrist and the “Devil’s Great Wrath” (Revelation 12:12)—the “witness” of the Church having been safely “raptured” to the heavens where better climes abound!
As most of you know, my dear friend and brother in Christ, S. Douglas Woodward (SDW) and I, do not concur on the timing of this rapturous event. He is decisively pre-trib (i.e., the “rapture” of the Church occurs before the commencement of the future Seventieth Week of Daniel 9:24-27) and I am post-trib/pre-wrath (after the 70th Week), although at one time I too was adamantly pre-trib; however, this may be but an academic exercise in that Israel has become a lightning rod of premillenarian controversy to such an extent, as you shall shortly witness, that SDW and my “prophetic disparities” may ultimately align (and I will explain later) in that, as Joseph Stalin (poor metaphor here) once said: The enemy of my enemy is my friend!
In this section I will attempt to highlight those eschatological themes which differentiate the two dominant aforementioned positions; drawing peculiar attention to how today’s Israel “infuriates” the discussion. Naturally, my prejudice will be to persuade you (and my co-author of THE FINAL BABYLON, SDW), as a Christian believer or casual spectator, to affirm the TESTIMONY OF JESUS, which is THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY and which, I believe, supports the post-trib position. Is it fair to hear but “one side of the story”—of course not; but as a studious Berean one should listen to the other side by checking out SDW’s material in his new book: BLOOD MOON…Biblical Signs of the Coming Apocalypse.
However, on an immediate basis the dominate view of the pre-tribulational rapture of the Church is inextricable connected with the so-called doctrine of the imminent (viz., “any moment”) return of Christ (aka: The doctrine of IMMINENCE or IMMINENCY)—at question, however, will be: Does the Bible actually teach this doctrine? If so, how does today’s Israel figure into the equation or is she utterly irrelevant or so mystifying that we simply do not know where or when Israel fits into Bible prophecy? A more serious “eschatological imbroglio” is this: What do premillenarians who affirm Israel’s immediate prophetic fulfillment do (like our beloved DSW), given the current waffling by stalwart institutions of evangelical acclaim who have now placed Israel in the category of “prophetic possibility” and, consequently, prophetic ambiguity—pulling back from declaring Israel’s existence as prophecy being fulfilled or fulfilled? Could it be that the enemy (post-tribbers who see in Israel’s biblical fulfillment) of my enemy (pre-tribbers moving away from Israel’s fulfillment) have now become my friend (i.e., post-tribbers uniting somehow with pre-tribbers because Israel is the unquestionable fulfillment of Biblical prophecy par excellence)?
Better yet, to quote a famous outburst of neutrality: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE? (Especially, if you’re an Amillenarian, Preterist, Post-Millenarian who could care less.) Who cares if the “rapture” is pre or mid or post? I can’t pay my bills and I should be strung out on the timing of the rapture? Give me a break!
Why not auger for being “pan-trib” in that it will all pan out in the end? Who knows if today’s Israel is the harbinger of the “end of the age” or just a fluke of history? Guess what? Someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong in this in-house prophetical food fight as the age comes to a rapid conclusion. You may be living in the “Age of Relativism” but the absolutes of Bible prophecy do not dwell therein—especially, pertinent to that fact is the promise of these prophetic truths at the end of the age; to wit:
But you, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the Book until the time of the end. [Then] many shall run to and fro and search anxiously [through the Book], and knowledge [of God’s purposes as revealed by His prophets] shall be increased and become great. (Daniel 12:4, Amplified Version)
Are the stakes high? Were the stakes high when Jesus rode into Jerusalem during His “Passion” or “Holy Week?” How about Israel and the Church’s final week? Naturally, we’ll find those within their “theological ivory towers” taking a “wait and see” attitude—try that during the tribulation!
Jesus spent an inordinate, yea, a disquieting amount of time and timing on the topic of His Second Coming (let alone the other apostles); therefore, for us to conclude we’d rather abstain from the topic and opt out as a pan-tribulationist (viz. it’ll all pan out in the end) is, as far as this author concerns, a cop out and someone whose hankering for the Scripture of Truth who is less than stellar in his pursuits thereof!
Now, prior to this topical engagement, may I clarify that all pre-mid-post positions declare that we are pre-wrath—the Church will not suffer the Wrath of the Lamb during the final Week of Daniel’s Prophecy and most of us concur that Israel shall be sealed upon the earth in accordance with Revelation 7:1-8 from the same. Furthermore, the pre-wrath (per se, after the commencement of the Seventieth Week or primarily from the Abomination of Desolation or shortly thereafter--i.e., from the mid-point of the 70th Week) and post-trib positions are virtually conflated.
Disenchantment with the Pre-Trib Position
To those of you who affirm the pre-trib position and abide unmovable in your conviction, may I alert you to the fact that vast segments of the “Bible-believing Church,” even in America, are moving away from the pre-trib position for a variety of reasons—these are some of the main areas of fracturing now taking place:
(1)Doctrinal concerns which militate against a pre-trib rapture position such as the confusion and conflation of the “devil’s great wrath” (Revelation 12:12-17; 13:5; 11:8. 2) commensurate with the “wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16-17; 8:5; 11:13; 14:17-20; 16:1, 17-21; 17; 18; 19:1-6, 11-21; 20:1-3) (i.e., that they actually do not overlap in jurisdiction and time). This is all the more exacerbated by the confusion over the “jurisdictional timing” aspects of the “Wrath of God” relative to salvific matters vs. the Wrath of God with regards to the period of “judgment” in the Apocalypse. (See (8) below.) Moreover, the so-called status of the “Tribulation Saints” relegated to “temple servants” in the Kingdom or some other designation other than members of the Church—for they are a vast multitude that no man can number and they do not belong to the “earthlings” nor Israel, nor have they taken the “Mark of the Beast”—furthermore, it is they who are the subject of “living and reigning with Christ a thousand years” in Revelation 20:1-6.
(2)To Discern or Not to Discern? The evident and immediate injunction of New Testament Scripture to “discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3) juxtaposed to the real meaning of “it is not for you to know the times or seasons” (Acts 1:7) which by a casual reading seems contradictory or counteracts the rapture as a “sign-less event” in the first place. The recent focus by large swaths of the “prophetic community” (especially among the pre-tribbers) to highlight “signs in the heavens” (e.g., Blood Moons) when the secret pre-tribulational rapture of the Church is a “sign-less event” seems a bit “theologically disingenuous.”
(3)Are not the “Birth Pangs of the Messiah” SIGNS? The growing number of “pre-tribbers” who have embraced the “lead up to the tribulation” (e.g., Dr. Arno Fruchtenbaum) in the context of the prophetic fact that we are living in the actual “birth pangs” of the Messiah (aka, “beginning of sorrows” – Matthew 24:6-8); which in and of itself demands a recognition that “signs” are taking place in the midst of a so-called “sign-less event” and are/were mandatory prior to any Second Coming of Christ either before or after the Seventieth Week. By highlighting “wars and rumors of wars . . . . famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places” as the “beginning of sorrows” (i.e., the “era” of such) automatically designates them as mandatory and anticipatory signs just prior to: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation” (Matthew 24:9) (i.e., the commencement of Daniel’s actual Seventieth Week).
(4)Rapture or Rupture? The peculiar notion embraced by some pre-trib eschatologists, like Dr. Douglas Stauffer, that the rapture is mandatory due to the current apostate nature reflected within the “Laodicean” mindset of the Church in the West (i.e., the rapture is imminent now more than ever because the Church’s spiritual condition is deplorable—odd that the sign-less event of the Church’s rapture is apparently given a “heads-up” with the apostatizing now taking place within the Laodicean Church). This view is alarming; foremost, in that it presents an open admission that the Church has failed in her mission and witness and needs to be raptured to avoid further failure and embarrassment?
(5)False Teachers? The doctrine of the pre-trib rapture ill-equips the Church for witness and testimony in the face of tribulation as announced by such renown overcomers of adversity like Corrie ten Boom, whose vibrant prophetic voice in suffering for Christ is/was irrefutable; likewise, Corrie was relentless in her broadsides against this teaching; to wit: “There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days.” (Corrie ten Boom, 1974 – Nazi Concentration Camp Survivor and Renown “Tramp for the Lord”).
(6)The Pre-Trib Rapture vs. Heroic Faith: Commensurate with (5) above is the growing apprehension on the part of many young people and young Christian leaders who have witnessed the across the board disenchantment with the old-line pre-tribbers and their stalwart embrace of a doctrine which offers young believers little heroic challenge to the post-Christian world (especially in the West). Furthermore, the pre-trib doctrine has either naturally and/or inadvertently affixed itself to the materialistic life-style of the Western Church and its “gospel of prosperity” which parallels the mindset aforementioned as the “Church in Laodicea” with her “have need of nothing” lukewarm expression; only compounded by a “survivalist” mindset to prepare for the lead up to the tribulation “just in case we’re wrong!” Pre-tribbers, like Dr. Stauffer, who may bemoan the Laodicean mindset prevailing within the churches in the West, have NOT made the connection between “rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing” with the “prophetic interruptus” caused by the early exit of the Church’s witness during the final week of Daniel’s prophecy—and there most definitely is an empirical connection. Some post-tribbers, though, sadly enough, are likwise fixated upon getting as much out of Babylon the Great as they can, all the while railing on the "Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth" while simultaneously condemning Christians who remain at "Babylon Central" (viz., the USA) . . . they blast others for not leaving Babylon the Great; then not only abide ensconced within her walls but thrive therein off her largess, all the while pleading for donations while sumptuously feeding off her entitlements.
(7)144 Jewish Evangelists? The view that if the futurity of the Seventieth Week of Daniel presents the “climax of the age” and the most vibrant prophetic period of history—why would the Almighty take out His “A-Team” when it appears they are the most needed in heralding the gospel of Jesus Christ? Furthermore, what “biblical sense” does it make to hand the final harvest of the earth over to a 144,000 flaming Jewish Evangelists (all males), as propounded by numerous pre-tribbers?
At issue today is not pre-mid-post trib world views but whether the Church’s commission to preach the gospel to every living creature, giving Witness and Testimony against that Great City, Babylon, will or will not take place in our day. John’s exile on Patmos “For the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ” is a clarion call to today’s churches wherein the Son of Man stands as our Prophet committed to purifying the churches and to pronouncing judgment through them to the Gentile World Powers of this present evil and adulterous generation. The notion that Matthew 24:14 wherein “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” is the commission given to National Israel during the Seventieth Week in heralding the coming Millennium (aka, the “gospel of the kingdom” yet to come) and, likewise, has no reference to the Gospel of the Grace of God in that the Church has already been raptured, simply flies in the face of scores of Scripture which bespeak that the Gospel’s message of salvation through Christ alone shall be preached until the very “end of the age” until the actual Coming of Christ to the earth. C. I. Scofield’s reference to the “gospel of the kingdom” bespeaks of National Israel’s introduction of this final theme of the kingdom is erroneous (See here); especially, in light that within the context of Daniel’s Seventieth Week there will be a multitude of believers who shall “overcome him (the Beast) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). That said, C.I. Scofield was absolutely correct in stating this:
“Christians, let us leave the government of the world till the King comes; let us leave the civilizing of the world to be the incidental effect of the presence there of the Gospel of Christ, and let us give our time, our strength, our money, our days to the mission distinctively committed to the Church, namely, to make the Lord Jesus Christ known "to every creature"!” (The Biggest Failure of the Church Age, C.I. Scofield)
(8)Rightly Dividing in Matthew 24 is Wrong when it comes to the Rapture: The growing resistance by those who embrace the inerrancy of the Scriptures in their original languages to extreme Dispensational doctrines which suggest that the words of Jesus in most, if not all, of the Synoptic Gospels—especially those relative to the Olivet Discourse—were written primarily with “National Israel” in mind and not for the immediate and newly redeemed community to be known as the “Church” (ecclesia) since the revelation of the Church and of the Gospel of the Grace of God was not clarified until Paul’s pronouncements; however, the “revelation” of the Church was made known to the disciples upon Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16-18; “Thou are the Son of God . . . and upon this rock I will build My Church.” The use of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15) by those who claim Jesus had only National Israel in view as the subject of His discourse on Olivet at the “end of the age” (Matthew 24:3) being relevant only to the “elect” (Matthew 24:31) as ethnic Israel, having nothing to do with the Church (the “new humanity” or “new creation” comprised of Jew and Gentile—Galatians 6:15; Eph. 2:15; 4:24), obfuscates the very intention of why Jesus went to the cross in the first place: “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her!” (Eph. 5:25). Please read Doug Shearer’s relevant article on: MATTHEW 24 IS WRITTEN TO THE CHURCH.
(9)The Parables of Readiness are directed to the Church: This “doctrinal disparity” is all the more discarded by biblical literalists due to the growing use and relevance of the “Parables of Readiness” (Matthew 24:31-51 and Matthew 25) subsequent to the chronological outline announced by Jesus in Matthew 24:3-31; viz., the parables of readiness demand that the “elect” (i.e., the “Church”) was in view when Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse (one’s “watchfulness” in Matthew 24:40-51; “walk” in Matthew 25:1-13 (the virgins); and, “service” in Matthew 25:14-30—all bespeak of relevant Christian themes, National Israel was dispensed with in Matthew 24:1-2 with the prophesized destruction of the Herodian Temple. The future Church, the “Apostles who are to be the 12 foundations of the Holy City, New Jerusalem” are in view, first and foremost. This future “redeemed community” is primarily the recipient of Jesus’ prophetic statements. It is the Church at the climax of the age, the time known both as the “tribulation” as well as the “Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:9, 21) demarcated by the “Abomination of Desolation” (Matthew 24:15). The same Greek word for “elect” (Strong’s 1588) is used some 15x’s in the New Testament (by Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, Peter and John) and emphasizes those “set apart” in Christ. Those who embrace the pre-trib position are adequately described by Doug Hamp:
“We next come to the references to the elect in Matthew 24 in which Jesus is telling the disciples of what the days of the tribulation would be like. Armed with the knowledge that the elect are the Jews, we can consistently interpret the passage; the elect in Matthew 24 are not Gentile believers in the tribulation, but are God’s chosen, that is the Jews. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened… For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matt 24:22, 24) Mark’s Gospel adds “…for the elect’s sake, whom He chose…” (Mark 13:20) emphasizing those whom God chose: the Jews. If the elect are interpreted as those whom God has predestined to eternal life, then a conundrum arises, in particular, for those of us of a pretibulational perspective; who exactly is being gathered at the end of the tribulation? “He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the fourwinds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt 24:31) There can be no question that this gathering happens after the events of the Great Tribulation and yet, if it is referring to the same catching up of believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, then the teaching of the pretribulational rapture would be nullified. However, once we realize that the elect here are not believers in general but specifically the Israelites/Jews then the matter is resolved. Two-thirds of the (up to then non-believing) Jews will tragically perish and the one-third (Zech. 13:8) remaining will be gathered at the end of the Great Tribulation. It also fits in with Revelation 19 where the believers return with Jesus to the earth because they have already been caught up to Him.” (Why God Did Not Elect Calvinists: The Biblical Concept of Election Never Means Predestined to Salvation and Commonly is a Reference to Israel, Doug Hamp)
Doug Shearer, however, counters Hamp’s logic as follows:
“A logically consistent pretribulationist, however, has no option but to insist that Matthew 24 bears no concrete, existential relevance for the church. After all, once again, the church will have been raptured before its onset. Is it possible that such passages amount to little more than sops meant to sate our curiosity? That's awfully hard to buy into!
“Very few expositors doubt that from this point on (Matthew 16:16-19), Jesus began to narrow the focus of his teaching ministry to the one goal of preparing his disciples to shepherd the church: that fewer and fewer matters extraneous to that one goal were allowed to intrude. And that makes it all the more unlikely that at the very close of His ministry, when we might justifiably expect Him to be focused almost exclusively on the task of training His disciples to shepherd the church, Jesus would divert so much of His attention to a matter totally unrelated to that task - two whole chapters of recorded instruction - including the follow-up parables from Matthew 24:32 through to the end of Matthew 25.” (Matthew 24 is Written to the Church, Douglas R. Shearer, The Tribnet)
Hamp anticipates that if we position the verse in Matthew 24:31 (which verse he accords to take place AFTER the “tribulation”—i.e., the 70th Week of Daniel) and LINK it to the “catching up of believers in I Thess. 4:17, then we will have ostensibly “nullified” the pre-tribulational rapture of the Church; therefore, Matthew 24:31 (as well as all of Matthew 24) is directly oriented toward the “elect” as Jews or National Israel only. If, on the other hand, the Church is in view in Matthew 24:31, then Hamp is absolutely correct, it NULLIFIES the pre-tribulational rapture of the Church found in I Thess. 4:17.
Let’s Have a “Friendly Debate”
I’m fairly confident that both Hamp and Shearer would be delighted to debate this topic in the open arena of pertinent eschatological topics in the not too distant future; of course, it would take a great deal of humility to admit someone is wrong and someone is right about who the “elect” are of Matthew 24. I propose that Doug Shearer, Joe Schimmel, Doug Krieger and Rob Skiba have a cordial and open debate with Doug Hamp, Doug Woodward, Tom Ice and Gerald Stanton. I also suggest that Dr. Mark Bailey of Dallas Theological Seminary and Mark Wiles of TruNews moderate the debate which should be held in Dallas, TX for effect—any takers?
The Doctrine of Imminence – No Man Knows the Day nor Hour, Nor the Son, only the Father (Rick Warren, April, 2014) . . . .
As you will readily observe from the comments below, the doctrine of the “any moment” return of Christ to the earth is intimately connected with the pre-tribulational rapture of the Church (i.e., the final Seventieth Week of Daniel is yet future and necessitates the “rapture” or the “coming for the saints” (i.e., the Church) prior to the commencement of Daniel's 70th Week, yet future. This pre-tribulational rapture of the Church is considered the “Blessed Hope” which preserves the Church from any pending tribulation, be it the Great Wrath of the Devil or the Wrath of God and the Lamb—both of which can overlap one another in the eyes of most pre-tribulationists.
Likewise, the doctrine insists that such a rapture is a SIGN-LESS event (i.e., no prophecies prior to the rapture need to be fulfilled (including Israel’s rebirth, the time leading up to the tribulation known as “the beginning of sorrows” or “birth pangs of the Messiah” or, for that matter, the “Oracle of Damascus”) in order for the any moment coming of Christ “for” His saints—He can come “for the saints” at any time (i.e., first He comes "for the saints" and then after the "tribulation period" and/or "great tribulation" He comes back "with the saints"). Yes, He can come momentarily, for “no man knows the day nor the hour, nor the Son, only the Father.”
The actual return of Christ to “rule and reign on the Throne of David” will be AFTER the Seventieth Week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27) has been fulfilled when the Church as the “Armies of Heaven” will return to the Earth (after the Seventieth Week) to defeat the Beast, the False Prophet and the forces they have amassed against Jerusalem. Please follow their postulations carefully as presented by Dr. Gerald Stanton of the PreTribResearchCenter (founded in 1994 by Dr. Tommy Ice under the leadership and funding of Dr. Tim LaHaye [currently, its Executive Director, Ice], of the Left Behind Series fame). Now, Dr. Stanton:
Actually, the term imminency normally implies three important truths concerning our Lord's coming:
(1) While no one knows the time of Christ's return, He may come at any moment and it is possible that He might come today.
(2) The Rapture is signless, and will be unannounced and largely unexpected. It is next on the revealed program of God, and is so presented in the Scripture that every generation may enjoy the hope, challenge and other blessings of His appearing. We are all exhorted to watch but no one can know the day nor the hour when the Bridegroom will come (Matt. 25:13).
(3) No clearly prophesied event must transpire prior to the Rapture, for this might date the time of His coming. If the return of Christ for His Church is imminent, then obviously it will be before the coming period of Tribulation with its clearly predicted signs and judgments. In theological language, the Rapture of the Church must be Pretribulational. We do not first look for an invasion of the Holy Land by Russia or some other northern confederation, nor the revelation of Antichrist and his godless ambitions, nor the predicted Battle of Armageddon with its vast devastation. We look next for the coming of Christ from heaven to take His own to the Father's house (John 14:1-3), and the Bible calls this our "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13).
It is this which gives such great importance to our speaking of the "imminent return of Christ." We believe that the Bible teaches clearly that the Rapture of the Church will take place before the coming Great Tribulation, the time of the outpoured wrath of God. This has become the cherished hope of a vast number of Christian people, especially those of conservative theology and Premillenial expectation. Which is why those of Posttribulational persuasion oppose it so vigorously. [Please note: My emphasis throughout; also, the inference that Postribulational persuasions are antithetical to a Premillenial worldview are erroneous—I as a Postribulationalist am vehemently Premillenarian; perhaps Dr. Stanton had in mind those of a Postmillenarian perspective.]
We must conclude that imminency and Pretribulationism are intimately related, for the first is part of the evidence for the second. The difference is primarily a matter of focus. The word Pretribulational focuses on the fact that the true Church of Jesus Christ will be caught up to the Father's House before the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7), before the "great day of God's wrath" (Rev. 6:16-17). The focus of the word imminency is upon Christ and His possible soon coming. We are not looking for signs or the fulfillment of other prophetic events. We are looking for Christ Himself.
His coming is next on the revealed program of God, and it may be near at hand. Hence we look and watch and wait for our Lord from heaven. This is our bright and blessed hope, far higher and more in keeping with Scripture than looking for Antichrist and the tragic years of the coming Tribulation. Praise God, we have been delivered from the wrath to come (2 Thess. 1:10; 5:9), and the next voice we shall hear from heaven will call us home! (The Doctrine of Imminency…Is It Biblical?, Dr. Gerald Stanton, PreTribResearchCenter, 2014)
In his brevity Stanton attempts to establish the historicity of the “any moment” coming of Christ for the saints prior to the futurity of the Seventieth Week of Daniel (i.e., since we do not know when the Seventieth Week shall begin; therefore, the Lord can come at any moment, ipso facto all the “events” within the context of the Seventieth Week (e.g., the “Abomination of Desolation”) are altogether tangential to the Church because she has been raptured and/or the attentive object of the discourse is National Israel, not the Church).
Stanton goes into Marv Rosenthal’s (a major proponent of the “pre-wrath” view of Bible prophecy, Executive Director of Zion’s Hope) five major complaints against the pre-trib rapture relative to:
(1) Its “historicity” is of recent vintage and not generously espoused by the Early Church Fathers nor their immediate theological progeny.
(2) The Gospel, according to Acts 1:8, had to be preached throughout the world before Christ could return; therefore, the Early Church’s proclamation of the Gospel was mandatory before an “any moment” Second Coming.
(3) Peter’s forecast death by Jesus in John 21 had not yet occurred; therefore, the doctrine of “imminence” could not have happened prior to Peter’s actual death.
(4) Jesus’ prophecy concerning the destruction of the Herodian Temple (Matthew 24:1-2) had to be fulfilled (and it was in 70 A.D.) prior to the coming of Christ in glory; therefore, the doctrine of imminence was impossible due to the fact that the prophecy of the destruction of the Herodian Temple had not yet been fulfilled.
(5) The “Covenant with the many” (viz., Israel playing a dominant role in any negotiated “defense pact” or “treaty” with any future “Antichrist”) as per Daniel 9:27 presupposes the existence of a future State of Israel, therefore, an “any moment” coming of the Messiah could not have taken place until Israel as an independent state was in existence.
Stanton’s Refutations of Marv Rosenthal’s 5 Complaints
Refutation to #5: Dr. Stanton quotes Dr. John Walvoord of DTS (Dallas Theological Seminary) where they once held high the study of eschatology but which, apparently, is not the case today (Is Modern Israel Fulfilling Prophecy?, by Dr. Tommy Ice; specifically, the equivocating comments made by Dallas Theological Seminary President, Dr. Mark Bailey).
I find it incongruous for Dr. Tommy Ice, however, to commend to us both Israel’s re-gathering in unbelief and concurrently poised to embrace in belief the Coming of Messiah in Glory as the cornerstone of prophetic fulfillment, while necessitating the period known as the “tribulation” (aka, the Seventieth Week of Daniel), while simultaneously denying that Israel’s materiality is a prophetic forerunner of the rapture of the Church—you can’t have it both ways; viz., the rapture is a signless event and yet National Israel is the SINE QUA NON for the rapture! Israel’s Latter Day existence is or is not the unequivocal fulfillment of Bible Prophecy; if so, then she heralds the Second Coming of Christ—ipso facto is either a latent discovery for the pre-trib rapture (a signless event); or she’s an equivocation akin to Dr. Mark Bailey’s comments and, therefore, is but a fluke of history—sound a fury, signifying nothing or at best a “prophetic possibility” but abides in eschatological ambiguity and certainly Christians should not consider support of the current State of Israel in keeping with the Bible’s prophetic thrust.
The persistent declaration by pre-tibbers of Israel’s present materiality as THE “prophetic time clock” and/or fulfillment of Bible Prophecy militates severely against the doctrine of imminence; and for them to stipulate otherwise is simply “eschatologically disingenuous.”
Ice suggests in his article that Dr. Bailey could very well find himself “fighting God”—to wit:
“Israel will be gathered in unbelief, before the tribulation in order that God may complete His plan for National Israel. The current nation of Israel is the beginning of fulfillment of just such prophecy. Modern Israel is the result of God’s direct intervention in history. I believe that those who speak contrary to this will be found to be fighting God.” (See Ice Comments Here)
I am in accord with Dr. Ice’s prophetic proposition and NOT those of Dr. Bailey; but I do not think that Dr. Ice comprehends the gravity of his remarks and their negative impact upon the doctrine of imminence. What Dr. Ice sees in Dr. Bailey's statements below . . . one can only imagine:
“Is that [Israel’s materiality a fulfillment of Bible prophecy] what is happening today? I can’t say for sure. It is the first time in 2,500 years, though, that you have this kind of constitution of people in the land, but I don’t know what that means. This may be the prelude to end-time events, but I think we’re presumptuous if we try to give it meaning beyond that. It may be, that’s all we can say” (Bailey, “Land Policy,” p. 6).
Ice goes on to further excoriate the remarks of DTS’ President by stating: “It is not surprising, in light of his view of the present state of Israel, that Dr. Bailey recommends Christians not support Israel politically.”
How then, can Ice justify the comments again stated by Dr. Stanton: To wit:
“No clearly prophesied event must transpire prior to the Rapture, for this might date the time of His coming.”
Pray tell, is Israel’s rebirth not a “clearly prophesied event prior to the Rapture?” Perhaps Israel’s rebirth, adamantly acclaimed by Ice is not mandatory prior to the rapture of the Church; or is it? Again, Ice:
“Israel will be gathered in unbelief, before the tribulation in order that God may complete His plan for National Israel. The current nation of Israel is the beginning of fulfillment of just such prophecy.”
Ice clearly states that before the tribulation Israel will be gathered in unbelief—if that isn’t a precursor to the tribulation period mentioned in Matthew 24, then I do not know what is! In mathematics we have such things as: 1 is equal to 2; and 2 is equal to 3; therefore 1 is equal to 3. Therefore: The rapture is a signless event; Israel’s rebirth as a nation state is a signless event; therefore, the rapture does not need Israel’s rebirth as a prophetic fulfillment in order to maintain its signless status.
I don’t know if you can see the absolute incongruity of this reasoning. It could also read: The rapture of the Church is a signless event; Israel’s rebirth is the foremost prophetic fulfillment prior to the Tribulation Period—i.e., she must be re-gathered in her land in unbelief prior to the Tribulation Period; notwithstanding, Israel’s rebirth is NOT a pre-requisite sign commending the Second Coming of Christ—Israel’s re-gathering connotes her pending tribulation and has nothing to do with the rapture of the Church; the rapture of the Church could have happened centuries before Israel’s rebirth. Alas! Israel is now here in fulfillment of her pending Tribulation; the Church’s current presence (unraptured) is a “disinterested participant” in Israel’s current materiality; the Church and Israel maintain their distinctions; therefore, fulfilled prophecy when it comes to Israel’s materiality is unilateral in its delivery and prophetic understanding. Israel’s rebirth was a “sign” to the Gentile World Powers and to Israel, but not to the Church’s “any moment rapture.” The Church remains aloof from all prophetic signs and, at best, must consider them relative to Gentile Kingdoms and National Israel at best—no prophetic relevance can be deduced from Israel’s rebirth, none, in order for the Church to maintain her “any moment rapture.” Furthermore, I might hasten to add, the “parables of readiness” are altogether inconsequential to the Church for they are written with National Israel in view, whereas the raptured Church would find them irrelevant.
Honestly, sometimes I feel as though I'm watching "Baghdad Bob" declaring how much Saddam's Regime is in control of events, all the while behind him on international TV the allied forces are moving around their tanks!
Notwithstanding, Ice is clear: Israel must be re-gathered in unbelief prior to the Tribulation, i.e., the Seventieth Week of Daniel; likewise, the Church will be raptured prior to the commencement of the Tribulation/70th Week of Daniel. In a phrase: What is wrong with this picture? It is altogether fair to posit the operative question at this juncture: What is the Church still doing here before the Tribulation with Israel having fulfilled her prophetic role by being gathered in unbelief in anticipation of the Tribulation, ipso facto of Messiah’s Coming Again in Glory?
Israel’s rebirth has and is causing a “prophetic crisis” in the pre-tribulational rapture camp—especially, since her most ardent eschatological proponents insist that today’s Israel is the long-awaited prophetic fulfillment at the conclusion of the age . . . but did/does her present status as a nation state constitute a major prophetic fulfillment of not only the Tribulation, Jacob’s Trouble, but of the Second Coming of Christ? Absolutely!
Well, then, wouldn’t it be logical, therefore, to conclude, that in the re-gathering of Israel, even in unbelief (as so prophesied; Ezekiel 37), that her preparation for the Coming of Messiah DIRECTLY impacts upon the believing Church, alerting her to the Second Coming of Christ and is, likewise, viewed by most Bible-believing Evangelicals as a definitive sign of the soon rapture of the Church or the pending Tribulation? Was Israel’s rebirth a dominating pre-requisite to the Second Coming? Yes. Then, can it not be said that Israel’s rebirth was and is necessary for the rapture of the Church? Oddly enough, Stanton, Ice and probably Bailey all concur that Israel’s present status as a “prophetic sign” has nothing to do with the rapture of the Church! Notwithstanding, Ice declares Israel's regathering is mandatory for the Tribulation yet to come; Stanton is adamant that Israel is apparently inconsequential because the secret rapture of the Church is a sign-less event and as far as Bailey is concerned, he can't figure out if Israel's on foot or horseback!
Frankly, and again, I find this reasoning altogether incompatible to logic, as well as utterly disingenuous. Israel’s materiality is mandatory for the Coming of the Lord and alerts the Church to readiness, watchfulness, walk, service and to the neglected doctrine of rewards and abundant inheritance to all who diligently await His coming again in glory! Israel’s rebirth is the foremost sign of the Second Coming of the Messiah—to espouse otherwise, is an abject denial that today’s Israel has any prophetic relevance whatsoever! That is precisely what has happened to Dallas Theological Seminary. Drs. Ice and Stanton are now walking on eschatological thin ice—no pun intended; for if Israel’s rebirth is prophetic fulfillment on a grand scale, then the Church could NOT have been raptured prior to her re-gathering and present distress among the Gentile World Powers. Israel acts as the Sword of Damocles in the heart of the power structures of the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ and shatters the secret-pre-tribulational rapture of the Church’s so-called Blessed Hope . . . a “Hope” misplaced in an “escape from tribulation” and not a Hope anchored in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, who alone, is our Hope.
The day comes, and very shortly, when pre-millenarians may become scarce as hen’s teeth who see in Zion’s fulfillment the precursor to the end of the age. Either that tiny sliver of land on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea is or is not who Ice claims she is. My “prophetic prognosis” of the “Futurity of the Seventieth Week Camp” is this: Either we embrace Ice’s prophetic pronouncements as fact insofar as today’s Israel is concerned and de facto admit that the rapture is NOT a signless event or we side with the progressive evangelical seminaries and their equivocations that today’s Israel may or may not signal the end of the age—there is NO MIDDLE GROUND! Today’s Israel is perhaps the greatest SIGN of the Second Coming of Christ or we resort to intellectual gibberish expressed by none other than Dallas Theological Seminary, from whence Dr. Tommy Ice was graduated.
What Dr. Mark Bailey is advocating is nothing more than a preliminary call to “justice” in the Middle East which will in effect “spiritually anesthetize” the American Church’s support for Israel; for if she is not an eminent precursor of the Second Coming of Christ to the Earth, the harbinger of the tribulation, and the foremost example of prophetic fulfillment, then she, as Preterist Gary North has announced in his yet-to-be-released book (mentioned by Ice): Israel, her conversion and/or cascade into the sea by her enemies, will simply be recognized as nothing more than a fluke of history and at worst, an apostate expression useful in the hands of any future despot or Antichrist who happens down the pike!
The prophetic Scriptures do NOT provide multiple re-gatherings of such a magnitude; in other words, scattering and re-gathering throughout her Diaspora. Dr. Ice has got some guts—but he’s also blown to smithereens the doctrine of imminence. Today’s Israel, in Ice’s eyes, sets the stage for the events spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24—known as “the tribulation” and “Great Tribulation” (aka, the Seventieth Week of Daniel, its latter half of 42 months). Israel is most definitely the precursor to the “tribulation”—a mandatory prophetic necessity and the death nil to the doctrine of imminence, ipso facto to the secret, pre-tribulational rapture of the Church since it is a signless event?
Furthermore, I find Dr. Stanton’s refutation of Rosenthal’s suggestion that the “Covenant with the many” made by Antichrist within the confines/inception of Daniel’s Seventieth Week in that it does not necessarily include Israel and, therefore, does not necessitate Israel being in the land prior to the Second Coming, altogether specious. Listen to his refutation of Rosenthal:
The prophecy does not say that the covenant will be made with the nation, Israel, but simply with "many." Nor can we assume that Daniel's prophecy, "shut up and sealed . . . to the time of the end" (Dan. 12:4) was known and sufficiently understood by early Christians to cause them to look for the reestablishment of Israel prior to the coming of the Lord. It is obvious that they did not. In addition, Daniel was writing concerning the coming Antichrist and a covenant to be made during the last of the "seventy weeks." Since the catching up of the Church occurs before the seventieth week, an event which takes place during the Tribulation has absolutely no bearing on the timing of the Rapture. (Doctrine of Imminency…Is It Biblical? Dr. Gerald Stanton, PreTribResearchCenter)
Dr. Stanton in essence indicates that the anytime rapture of the Church could come virtually hundreds of years before Israel’s rebirth. He states that “the covenant” was simply made with “the many”—since Israel’s name is not specifically mentioned, therefore it doesn't demand that she be involved. Notwithstanding, the entire context of Daniel 9:24-27 bespeaks to Daniel: “For your people and for your holy city” (Dan. 9:24) which most definitely refers to National Israel, the Jews. Furthermore, immediately following the “covenant with many for one week” we hear: “But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” which any self-respecting pre-tribber will immediately notice is the very Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:15 which mandates a rebuilt Jewish Temple, the restoration of the sacerdotal rites associated with such a rebuilt Jewish Temple and, therefore, the modern State of Israel must be in existence.
What Stanton suggests is obvious: Israel’s present designation as a nation state is not only peripheral to the rapture of the Church, it is wholly inconsequential, irrelevant and a veritable non-event. Her immediate appearance as a nation state, however, is “nice to notice” and a “sort of maybe yes, maybe no” fulfillment—for to admit that she is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy prior to an any-moment rapture, as co-researcher, Dr. Tommy Ice wholly admits, would be to terminate the doctrine of imminence . . . and Stanton knows it does exactly that! In other words, Israel’s present re-gathering in unbelief is/was NOT necessary for the rapture of the Church since the rapture of the Church is a sign-less event. I would say this: If Israel’s rebirth is perhaps the most sterling example of fulfilled prophecy, as Ice surmises, then it would have, of necessity, been forecasted in the Scripture as a major precursor to the Second Coming of Christ and ipso facto the rapture of the Church—the two are inextricably connected. Once Ice admits that Israel is the absolute fulfillment of Bible Prophecy, he destroys the doctrine of imminence.
Allow me to repeat Dr. Stanton’s thesis:
We must conclude that imminency and Pretribulationism are intimately related, for the first is part of the evidence for the second. The difference is primarily a matter of focus. The word Pretribulational focuses on the fact that the true Church of Jesus Christ will be caught up to the Father's House before the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7), before the "great day of God's wrath" (Rev. 6:16-17).
What Dr. Stanton has done, perhaps inadvertently, is open the door for all sorts of spurious possibilities—possibilities now due to Israel’s materiality being non sequitur at the moment; nevertheless, one can only conjecture that the period of time between the rapture of the Church prior to any re-gathering of Israel and the consequent fulfillment of the events of the Seventieth Week, most notably, the Abomination of Desolation and “tribulation” could have been centuries in the making wherein the entire plan and purpose of the Almighty “might be known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God” could/would have been completely circumvented, utterly terminated, if, let’s say, the Church would have been raptured in 1000 A.D. . . . my, my, talk about the "gap theory!"
Not only does this NOT make solid eschatological sense, it makes those of us who see in Israel’s immediate fulfillment the anticipated accompaniment of the Blessed Hope; to the contrary, it makes our immediate support for Israel’s perseverance, even in unbelief, a tragic misplacement of spiritual enthusiasm akin to what Preterism suggests; viz., today’s Israel means NOTHING to the Church … and, tragically, that’s what both Drs. Bailey and Stanton are finding common cause in suggesting—with Ice betwixt and between them! The “seeds of Israel’s irrelevance” have been sown in Stanton’s unfortunate commentary.
An elaborate refutation of each of Stanton’s points is overshadowed by the “theological confrontation” now confronting the Premillenarian community. I will go into more detail on most of these points in my dialogue with S. Douglas Woodward in order to maintain the interest of the reader; however, to wrap up this immediate discussion (Part I) allow me to present to you a number of incidental sidebars which are, nevertheless, relevant insofar as the doctrine of the "any moment coming of the Son of Man FOR the Church":
The Destruction of the Herodian Temple Prophesied by Jesus
If the rapture of the Church is a sign-less event with no prophecies mandated for fulfillment prior to such a rapture, why is the prediction of the Herodian Temple’s demise as foretold by Jesus in Luke 21:6; Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:2 (and fulfilled in 70 A.D.) not considered by Stanton as an overarching sign which must be fulfilled prior to the Second Coming of Christ? Likewise, the promise of the Holy Spirit predicted by Christ in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8 could likewise be considered as prerequisite to the Second Coming—i.e., could He return before these things were fulfilled? Weasling one's way around these items is like running through a dispensational minefield!
Peter’s Death & the Preaching of the Gospel
Again, Peter’s forecasted death in John 21:18-19 seems to circumvent the possibility of an “any moment” coming of Christ, at least until Peter was deceased in order for Christ’s prediction to have been fulfilled. Indeed, Peter was part of the Church (cf. Matthew 16:18 and the book of Acts). The Apostle in II Peter 3:12 exhorted us to “wait for and hasten the coming day of God.” How can we speed the day which may commence at any moment? Could it be that the Lord’s “slowness” (II Peter 3:9) is somehow connected to His command for us to:
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. 28:19-20)
Didn’t Jesus in Matthew 24:14 tell us that the gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations BEFORE the end comes—and in particular, just prior to vs. 15 where He announced the “Middle of the Week” wherein the Abomination of Desolation would take place? Really, the preaching of the gospel goes deep into the Seventieth Week of Daniel—how can the rapture circumvent the announcement of the witness of the gospel’s message to “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) given by Jesus and separate it from that of Matthew 24:14? I find that, once again, disingenuous and incompatible with the prophetic fulfillments taking place within the Seventieth Week.
It appears obvious that by Revelation 7:9 the job of preaching the gospel to the multitudes was completed.
John 14 and Matthew 24 – How Convenient of the Pre-Tribbers
How convenient for some pre-tribbers to use the declarations found in John 14:1-2 to illustrate the imminent return of Christ:
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.
Is Jesus really mentioning that His Second Coming would be at “any moment” or does Jesus simply teach His disciples He’s coming back for them? The “last supper” environment of John 14 takes place several days after the Mount of Olives discourse in Matthew 24 where He told certain disciples that there would be “wars and rumors of wars," the Abomination of Desolation, the Great Tribulation, and signs in the sun, moon, and stars; then He states:
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
Here’s the pre-trib dilemma: How could the Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 be meant only for the Jews but John 14 is somehow only meant for the Church when, frankly, both addresses were ostensibly given to similar individuals among the disciples and only days apart?
The Church in Philadelphia Destroys the Doctrine of Imminence
A goodly number of pretribulationists interpret the seven churches written to in Revelation 2 and 3 as representative not only of seven actual churches in Asia Minor but as illustrative of “seven periods of Church history.” In particular, the Church in Philadelphia is pictured, because of its character, to be “kept from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” as a clear prophetic picture of the raptured Church prior to the tribulation. Yes, pictures are one thing, but "history" is another!
Naturally, we’d all like to be included in the Church in Philadelphia; however, another prophetic church, the Church in Laodicea is depicted as lukewarm, naked, miserable, blind and wretched; a truly spiritually impoverished expression of a body of believers; however, Laodicea is the final and seventh historical church within the Church Age and “overlaps” in time the Church in Philadelphia which must be alive at the rapture. Tragically, these pre-tribulationists have no idea that by espousing these sundry historical periods of church history they inadvertently circumvent the doctrine of imminence in that the very Second Coming of Christ cannot be imminent until Philadelphia persists on the scene, along with Laodicea, let alone the present expression of Thyatira (the Roman Catholic Church) and that of Sardis (the spiritually dead mainline churches); to say nothing of Smyrna (the "suffering church").
Matthew 24 – Hardly Signless
Throughout Matthew 24:3-31 Jesus never once indicated in response to: “What shall be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” that there would be no SIGNS—in point of fact Matthew 24 is peppered with signs; therefore, the pre-tribbers acclaim the entire chapter is befitting National Israel’s destiny, and not that of the Church because the Second Coming “for the saints” is a signless event ipso facto, the multitude of SIGNS mentioned in Matthew 24 were addressed to National Israel and not to the Church; notwithstanding, Jesus had actually dispensed with the Old Temple, and, consequently, National Israel’s immediate destiny in Matthew 24:1-2 when He prophesied the total destruction of the “Old Order” (i.e., the sacerdotal rites of the Herodian Temple). Jesus literally moved from the physical environs of the Herodian Temple to the Mt. of Olives where He gave His discourse.
He spoke of wars and rumors of wars—the so-called “birth pangs of the Messiah” or “the beginning of sorrows” in Matthew 24:3-8 in the lead up to the Tribulation…all SIGNS. He then at the close of His remarks said:
As soon as [the fig tree's] branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates.
Fascinating, we can actually know when these things begin to happen, although we don’t know the precise day or hour—notwithstanding, His coming will be so near by then that the generation which witnesses these signs will not die before His return; therefore, how could His coming be considered imminent BEFORE these things were to happen? Naturally, the pre-tribber is not here in any event; therefore, it is irrelevant and doesn’t pertain to him. Consequently, whatever signs there are during this period, the lead up to the tribulation, are altogether inconsequential to the pre-tribber: WHAT DIFFERENCES DOES IT MAKE? (Matthew 24:32-34, 36; Luke 21:28)
The Thief In The Night
One of the favorite verses quoted by the pre-tribbers has to do with the “thief in the night” which appears in Revelation 3:3 in the context of the church at Sardis (not Philadelphia nor Laodicea).
"Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you."
As exciting as the rapture shall be, this and other verses dealing with “the thief in the night” has nothing to do with the Church’s rapture but rather “the day of the Lord” coming as a thief in the night:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10.
"For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
Furthermore, this is reinforced by I Thess. 5:4: “But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief.”
Indeed, I Thess. 5:6-7 and Mark 13:36 replicate the same sense. I affirm that the Day of the Lord does come as a “thief in the night” for the earthlings but not for the saints, for they have been removed just PRIOR to the Day of the Lord (the chronology holds firm). Likewise, what do we do with Acts 2:20 and Joel 2:31 when the sun turns dark and the blood moons appear BEFORE the very Day of the Lord? That, of course, would not make the rapture sign-less nor imminent. This parallels the very sign Jesus gave His disciples at the Olivet Discourse when He said:
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matt. 24:29-31.
The Revelation of the Man of Sin and the Rapture's Timing
The chronological confluence of the Day of the Lord with the rapture is revealed in II Thess. 2:1-4:
"Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."
Any notion that the rapture can occur before the “man of lawlessness is revealed” is kaput. In other words the “man of lawlessness” (i.e., the Antichrist) must be revealed before “our assembling to meet him” can be considered. What is it about this that the pre-tribbers cannot understand? There is no rapture until AFTER the Man of Sin is revealed. Likewise, it does not say immediately after but simply AFTER—which provides room for some 42 months within the AFTER. The one who “sits in the temple and declares himself as God in the Temple of God” is the Son of Perdition, the Lawless One, in point of glaring eschatological fact, the Abomination of Desolation. Again, why can’t we dismiss with the niceties? There is no rapture of the Church, no “assembling to meet Him” until AFTER the Man of Lawlessness is revealed—it’s that plain and simple.
Let me make it clear: We’re not going to eat at MacDonald’s until after we arrive in Sacramento. Currently, we’re in San Francisco traveling to Sacramento; after we arrive in Sacramento, we’ll eat at MacDonald’s. Now, how long after we arrive in Sacramento we eat at MacDonald’s remains to be seen; I’m figuring on as soon as possible but that could mean some 42 minutes!
This topic is far more important for Bible-believing Christians, let alone Israel, for it directly impacts upon “how shall we then live?”