The Rapture of the Church
“4 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1 NIV
Revelation 4 begins the last section in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:19, we saw an outline of the Book of Revelation. Jesus directed John to write three things.
Part I – What you have seen… This refers to the vision John had of Jesus in Revelation 1.
Part II – What is now… This refers to the special messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.
Part III – What will take place later… This refers to the descriptions of events that are yet to occur in chapters 4-22.
Revelation 4:1, begins part III. “What will take place later…”
Chapter 4 starts out with the statement, “After this…” Here’s the question. After what?
In the first three chapters of Revelation, John gives a description of his vision of Jesus and special instructions to the church. The word church appears nineteen times in chapters 1-3. From chapter 4 going forward the word church, does not appear again. Why is that? I believe in Revelation chapter 4, the church is taken off the scene and into Heaven.
“And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1 NIV
I believe John here, is speaking about the same thing that Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
“16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NIV
There are many godly Bible students who hold the view that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation – Pre-Tribulation view, others who believe the Rapture will occur mid-way through the Tribulation – Mid-Tribulation view, and others who believe the Rapture will occur after the Tribulation – the Post Tribulation view. I am of the belief that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation.
Here are Seven Reasons I Believe the Rapture occurs Pre-Tribulation.
1 – The Tribulation is the pouring out of the wrath of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 tells us that God has not appointed us to wrath.
“9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 NIV
The wrath of God that should be poured out on us was absorbed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. For Christians to be present during the Tribulation negates the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
2 – The Rapture before the Tribulation is exampled in Genesis 19, and in Matthew 24:37.
In Genesis 19, we see the angels deliver Lot and his family before the destruction of Sodom. God removed His people from the city before the coming judgment. They didn’t endure His judgment in full or in part. They were taken out of the city before God’s judgment fell.
“29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.” Genesis 19:29 NIV
In the days of Noah, Noah and his family built the ark, entered the ark, and closed the doors before the floods came. They didn’t endure God’s judgment in the flood, nor did they endure part of God’s judgment by enduring part of the flood. The doors were closed and they were taken out before the floods came. Jesus says
“37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:37 NIV
3 – Jesus told us to pray that we would be taken up before the Tribulation
When speaking of the Tribulation, Jesus said
“36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 26:31 NIV
We are accounted worthy, not by our own actions, by because of what He did on the cross.
4 – A Pre-Tribulation view is comforting
It’s important to know that when John wrote the Book of Revelation, he was writing to bring comfort to persecuted Christians. The belief that the Rapture happens after or in the middle of the Tribulation doesn’t offer comfort because it means that believers must endure unspeakable agony before they are taken to Heaven.
5 – A Pre-Tribulation view is consistent with the order of the Book of Revelation
If we follow the outline of the Book of Revelation, we find a Pre-Tribulation rapture occurs. If not, the timeline of the Book of Revelation becomes twisted and confusing. A Mid-Tribulation view would have to place chapters 4-5 after chapter 11. A Post-Tribulation view would have to place chapters 4-5 after chapter 19. A Pre-Tribulation view places the Rapture consistently flowing through the Book of Revelation.
6 – A Pre-Tribulation view makes sense Biblically and historically.
In Jewish custom, when a man became the age where he could marry, he would add a room onto his father’s house for himself and his bride. When the addition was complete and the father gave his approval, a trumpet would be sounded and the bridegroom would go out to meet his bride.
Following the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom would take his bride into his father’s house where they would be tucked away for seven days. At the end of the seven days, the bridegroom would emerge with his bride and introduce her to the community.
This is an exact picture of the rapture occurring Pre-Tribulation. Jesus said in John 14:2 that He is preparing a place for us in His Father’s house. He said the appointed time of His return is known only by the Father. A trumpet will sound and Jesus will meet us in the air. We will remain in Heaven with Him for seven years before we are presented to the world where we will rule and reign with Him.
7 – A Pre-Tribulation view encourages believer to seek the Kingdom of God
If the Tribulation and rise of the anti-Christ precede the Rapture, then as followers of Jesus, we should be watching for the rise Anti-Christ and the re-building of the temple. If we hold to a Pre-Tribulation view, we are instead to be watchful for Jesus’ return. In Matthew 24:45-46, Jesus is encouraging us to be faithful and wise stewards who are working in preparation for the return of our Master.
“45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.” Matthew 24:45-46 NIV
There were two things that kept the early church on fire despite persecution, hardship, and turmoil. First was the Holy Spirit and second was their clinging to the belief that Jesus was returning within their lifetime. Because of that, they relentlessly sought the Lord, aggressively witnessed, and lived for the Kingdom of God.
Turn to Jesus
I’m thankful that in the end, whether or not you believe in the Rapture as Pre-Tribulation, a Post-Tribulation, or a Mid-Tribulation, does not affect your eternal destiny. If you are a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, you’ll end up in Heaven no matter what position you hold. If you are not a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, now is the time to surrender your life to Him. Don’t wait for more end-time signs to arise. Repent of your sin. Turn to Jesus for forgiveness. Invite Him to be Lord and Savior.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus. Lord Jesus, thank You that You came, to give Your life in my place. Thank You that when You went to the cross, You took the full wrath of God which I deserve because of my sin. I repent of my sin today. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You that I am saved today because of Your great work. In the precious name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book Starting Fresh: Following Jesus on the Adventure of a Lifetime in addition to More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.