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  • Writer's pictureMichael Filipek

Seven Proofs of a Pretribulational Rapture

Updated: Apr 13


Seven Proofs of a Pre-Tribulational Rapture Let Us Reason

In previous articles on the Rapture, we have defined the Rapture, alluded to the different views regarding the Rapture’s timing, and discussed the Rapture’s imminence. In all of these articles, we've advocated that scripture describes the timing of the Rapture as pretribulational (meaning it takes place prior to the Tribulation, or the final seven years that are characterized by God’s eschatological wrath).


In this article, we will seek to go deeper into the numerous Biblical reasons that suggest the certainty of this doctrine. We believe that there is more than enough evidence in scripture to form a strong opinion on this issue and to rest in complete assurance that this is a Biblical truth. We will offer seven convincing proofs of the pre-tribulational timing of the Rapture.


1 – The Mutual Exclusivity of Israel and the Church


When a literal or plain interpretation of scripture is consistently applied, a downstream result is the understanding that national Israel and the Church are distinct entities in God’s prophetic program. We can also then understand that God deals with them mutually exclusively. Our outline for this perspective is given in Daniel 9. This chapter records how in the mid-500s BC, the prophet Daniel was given the seventy-weeks prophecy, which declared seventy weeks or heptads of years that would take place for national Israel and Jerusalem. It is critical that we recognize that according the text, these seventy weeks are specifically designated for the Jews and Jerusalem – not the Gentiles or the Church (Verse 24 – “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city”). These seventy weeks amount to a total of 490 years (70 x 7). This acts as the framework for all future Bible prophecy.


A beginning point and ending point are provided for marking the first through the sixty-ninth weeks of years. The sixty-ninth week of years ended with the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in 33 AD, just days prior to His crucifixion. According to the prophecy, it is clear that this prophetic time-clock for national Israel stopped with the completion of the sixty-ninth week, leaving one future week – the seventieth week – to still be completed. But after the sixty-ninth week, something “unexpected” happened. After Israel killed her Messiah, rejecting His offer of the Messianic Kingdom (which had been promised and prophesied of throughout the Old Testament), this prophetic seventy-week program of God for Israel was paused, and God instead introduced an interim program called the Church, as the Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost of that same year – 33 AD (Acts 2).


Subsequently, the gospel was to be spread to all nations, as God’s focus temporarily shifted from that of national Israel to His new work called the Church, which focused on all nations. And so, at the Triumphal Entry, the time-clock for Israel’s seventy-week countdown was paused and a gap period we call the Church Age was inserted. In 70 AD, the final harbinger of this shift took place as Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were eventually scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth in what is termed the Diaspora. The Church Age has been in effect since 33 AD, and will last until the closing event of this age – the Rapture, or supernatural catching away of the Church to heaven described in scripture (Romans 11:25; I Thessalonians 4:14-18; et al.).


We understand that God’s time clock for the Church will stop with the Rapture, and either immediately or soon after, His time clock for national Israel will again begin, as there remains one final week of years – the seventieth week – to be completed. During this time, Israel will once again become the primary focus of God’s plan during this final seven-year “week” of time often called the Tribulation, or Daniel’s seventieth week. This final week for Israel, the Tribulation (Revelation 6-19), will be a time of great trouble for the world as God’s wrath is poured out – but will be especially focused upon Israel, especially the second half of this seven-year period. One primary purpose of the Tribulation is to drive the nation of Israel to repentance through great affliction. Sometimes God has to knock us down in order to get us to look up at Him – and that’s what’s happening to Israel during the Tribulation. Through this experience of unimaginable distress, Israel will finally be brought to faith (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:25). When Christ does return to the earth at the end of the Tribulation, Israel will be ready to receive Him as their Messiah. This now-righteous remnant of Israel will be rescued from the nations that have gathered to destroy her, and Christ will set up His Millennial or Messianic Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 12:2-3; Chapter 14).


How does all of this inform our perspectives of the timing of the Rapture? We see that when the first sixty-nine weeks for Israel were active, the Church was not on the scene. But the same year the sixty-nine weeks ended – 33 AD – the Church then began almost immediately after on Pentecost. Israel’s clock stopped and the Church’s clock began. The Church was God’s interim program that He inaugurated after national Israel rejected her Messiah. This is the time we are living in presently – which we call the Church Age. Again, the Rapture of the Church will be the event that stops the Church’s clock - permanently. But as we’ve discussed here, when the seventieth week begins, Israel’s clock will resume until its completion at the Second Coming – which will take place at the end of the seventieth week.


So, the first sixty-nine weeks and the seventieth week (in other words, all seventy weeks) are designated specifically for Israel, and have nothing at all to do with the Church. In fact, the Church and the seventieth week are completely incompatible. They are mutually exclusive according to this prophetic calendar. This itself is one of the reasons that necessitate the pretribulational removal of the Church from earth in order for God to begin Israel’s final week. God will not reinitiate His program for Israel until His program for the Church has been concluded (at the pretribulational Rapture). No other Rapture view makes a clear distinction between Israel and the Church.


2 – The Church is Exempt From Eschatological Wrath


The Tribulation is the culminating subset within the judgment phase of the broad Day of the Lord. The idea of this whole period being the wrath of God is shown most plainly in Revelation 6, as the Sixth Seal opens and even the wicked earth dwellers finally recognize that they’ve been experiencing God’s wrath. The people of earth cry out in fear.


And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? -Revelation 6:16-17

The wrath (the judgment phase of the broad Day of the Lord – which includes the Tribulation) didn’t just begin with the opening of the Sixth Seal - it began with the opening of the First Seal. Why? Because Jesus is the one in heaven opening the seals and releasing these wrathful judgments (Revelation 6 and following)! They are all part of the “wrath of the Lamb.”


But here is what we’re really getting at: the Bible clearly teaches that believers escape before the time of God’s wrath. They don’t experience any of the judgments of this period. In other words, the Church is caught up in the Rapture prior to any of the judgments of God’s wrath that get poured out upon the earth. Consider the following points.


In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, Paul tells the Church that Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come.


And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. -1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

Notice that this says Jesus delivered us (past tense) from the wrath to come (future tense). When we were saved and we entered into the body of Christ or the Church, that salvation brought with it an exemption from the coming time of wrath. It doesn’t say God will bring us through the wrath in the future – it says He has already saved us from it altogether.


Then, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says:


For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, -1 Thessalonians 5:9

So, we again find it clearly taught that we are not appointed to wrath. The Tribulation is the culmination of God’s time of wrath for those that dwell on the earth (as we will see even more clearly in the following passage). If we are not appointed to wrath, then our being on earth during the coming time of wrath is irreconcilable.


And most convincing yet, in Revelation 3:10, the Lord Himself promised to keep us from the time of the Tribulation altogether. Jesus, speaking to the Church at Philadelphia says:


Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. -Revelation 3:10

There’s simply no way to interpret this to mean God will preserve us through the Tribulation. It specifically says God will keep us from even the time of the Tribulation. We won’t be here to experience it. Notice also that it says the hour of trial is coming on the whole world and will affect all those who dwell on the earth. The only way then for the Church to be untouched by this hour of trial is for them to be removed from the earth prior to it.


Of course, the Church – like anyone else – will endure normal tribulations of life (lowercase “t”), but the Church is exempt from the Tribulation (uppercase “T”) – and the entire judgment phase of the broad Day. We will experience none of it.


3 – The Rapture is a Comfort


In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, after giving us the promise of the Rapture in the previous several verses, Paul then follows this up by saying:


Wherefore comfort one another with these words. -1 Thessalonians 4:18

We find that the Rapture is intended to be a comfort to us. Only a pre-tribulational Rapture is truly a comfort, since it is the only view that includes a rescue of the Church out of this world prior to the outpouring of God’s wrath during the broad Day of the Lord. This will be a time of unparalleled distress on earth.


If the Rapture doesn’t take place until sometime during this period of Tribulation, or especially until the end of the Tribulation, how could it provide us with any comfort? It would be like saying, “Be comforted that those of you who endure through the worst distress in all of earth’s history, who do not get decapitated by the Antichrist, will get raptured at the end of it.” Obviously, that’s not a comforting promise at all - nor does it make any sense.


And so, this description of the Rapture as a comfort supports the earlier passages that detail our exemption from this coming time of wrath altogether – all requiring a pretribulational Rapture. When we study the Tribulation in the broad Day of the Lord, we can all be comforted by the teaching that we will be rescued prior to it. We will experience none of its judgments. All other Rapture views require Christians to participate in at least part of this time period.


4 – The Church is Not Mentioned in Revelation Chapters 5-19


The Church is conspicuously absent from the portion of the book of Revelation that discusses the eschatological judgments taking place on the earth during the broad Day of the Lord (Chapters 5-19). However, before this, the word “Church” is prominently mentioned (twenty-two times in Chapters 1-3). It’s not mentioned again (in the context of being on earth during God’s wrath) for the remainder of the book.


Revelation 1 provides for us an outline of the book as a whole. John is told to:


Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; -Revelation 1:19

This allows us to recognize the three divisions of the book. It is divided into the “things which thou hast seen,” the “things which are,” and the “things which shall be hereafter.” David Hocking writes:


In Revelation 1:19 we have an outline of the book given to us: "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." This threefold outline includes the vision of our resurrected Lord in chapter 1 as "the things which thou hast seen"; the messages to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 as "the things which are" (meaning – existing in John’s day); and from chapter 4, verse 1, to the end of the book – "the things which shall be hereafter." The word "hereafter" (Greek: meta tauta) or "after these things" (following the "things which thou hast seen" and the "things which are") is an important clue to the order of things in this book. We read in Revelation 4:1: "After this" (Greek: meta tauta) and at the end of the verse the word "hereafter" (Greek: meta tauta). It would appear, therefore, that the third part of the outline of the Book of Revelation begins with Revelation 4:1 and continues to the end of the book. These events follow the "things which are" or the messages to the seven churches existing in John’s day. [1]

Revelation 4:1, where the apostle John is “caught up” to heaven at the sound of a trumpet, seems to be a type or shadow of the Rapture. John, as a representative of the Church at large, was brought up into heaven to see what would take place meta tauta, or “after these things.” After what things? After the “things which are,” or the Church Age. In other words, he’s shown what takes place after the Rapture.


What happens after this in Revelation is the beginning of the broad Day of the Lord, and that’s what John records. From heaven, John and the elders are able to witness the judgments of this period occurring “below” on earth. Chapters 6-19 describe the judgments of the Day of the Lord, and the Church is completely absent of mention.


Further, the Twenty-Four Elders, which many Biblical scholars conclude can only be a picture of the glorified Church, is already in heaven in Chapter 4 before the seven-sealed scroll is opened, producing the Day of the Lord judgments that begin on earth. [2] So, we continue to find that the concept of the Church on earth is incompatible with the broad Day of the Lord and Tribulation period.


Some have mistakenly concluded that the various mentions of “Tribulation saints” in these chapters of Revelation are equivalent to the Church. This is not the case. There will be saints present during the Tribulation in the same way that there were Old Testament saints present before the Church existed. This does not refer in any way to the Church. Again, the Church is nowhere mentioned by name after Chapter 3, yet is mentioned many times by name in the first three chapters.


One point that helps clarify this distinction is that Jesus told us the gates of hell would not prevail over the Church (Matthew 16:16-17). Yet, in the Tribulation, Satan’s man of the hour – the Antichrist – is said to prevail over the saints on the earth at that time and conquer them (Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:7). Clearly, either the Bible is contradictory or the believers being discussed in these two passages are different. There will be many who come to faith in Jesus during the Tribulation, but they should not be confused with the Church, and Revelation never refers to them as the Church. The explicit mentions of the Church abruptly stop at Chapter 3.


5 – The Imminence of the Rapture


The Rapture is continuously described in the Bible as an imminent event – meaning it can occur at any moment, with no preconditions. There are no signs or warnings – it takes place suddenly. This logically requires that nothing has to happen before the Rapture can take place. If there were necessary preconditions or events, it couldn’t be truly imminent. This is why scripture constantly tells us to wait and watch for the Rapture, and gives us the impression that it can happen at any moment. It is always to be seen as the “next event” on the prophetic horizon concerning God’s end-times program.


Renald Showers gives an excellent overview of the scriptural usage of the term “imminence.”


The English word "imminent" comes from the Latin verb "immineo, imminere," which means to "overhand" or "project." In light of this, the English word "imminent" means "hanging over one’s head, ready to befall or overtake one; close at hand in its incidence." Thus, an imminent event is one that is always hanging overhead, and is constantly ready to befall or overtake a person. Other things may happen before the imminent event, but nothing must take place before it happens. If something else must take place before an event can happen, that event is not imminent. The necessity of something else taking place first destroys the concept of imminency. [3]

This characteristic of imminency demands that the Rapture take place prior to the broad Day of the Lord (which the Tribulation is a subset of). If on the other hand, the Rapture couldn’t occur until the middle or end of the Tribulation, then that would contradict this characteristic of imminence since other predicted events must take place first. Wayne A. Brindle writes:


The term "imminence" (or imminency) as applied to the Rapture of the Church means that Christ may return at any moment for His Church, and no biblically predicted event must necessarily precede it. Those who believe that Christ will return for His Church before the Tribulation normally hold that the Rapture is imminent – that it may occur at any time and that it is the next predicted event in God’s prophetic timetable. [4]

Just a few of the many “imminency passages” in the New Testament include the following. The Bible says that Jesus’ return is at hand, and we are to wait eagerly for it (Romans 8:19-25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 4:5; Jude 21). “At hand” conveys the idea of imminence. If other events (such as the Tribulation and the arrival of the Antichrist) had to occur first before the Rapture could take place, then imminence language such as “at hand” could not be used to describe it.


James encourages us to “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:8). Revelation 1:3 and 22:10 also say that “the time is near.” Again, “near” is another example of imminence language. If the Rapture could not take place until the end of the Tribulation, for example, then it could not be described as being “near,” or able to befall at any moment. Other prophetic events would have to precede it chronologically. Much more can be said on this issue of imminence, which is taught all throughout the New Testament. (We addressed this subject of imminence more deeply in our previous article.)


The pretribulational Rapture is the only view that allows for the Rapture to be imminent in its timing. All the other views require a number of prophetic events to take place first before the Rapture can occur. To be looking for the imminent return of Christ on an “any day” basis (as the New Testament teaches), you have to believe in a pretribulational Rapture. Think about that for a moment. No other Rapture view believes that Jesus can come back today.


6 – The Many Scriptural Differences Between the Rapture and the Second Coming


Many unreconcilable distinctions exist between the Bible’s description of the Rapture and its description of the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation. These distinctions indicate that the two are different events happening at different times, which would specifically contradict the idea of a posttribulational Rapture.


  • The central passages dealing with the Rapture are John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

  • The central passages dealing with the Second Coming to earth are Zechariah 14:1-21, Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-27, and Revelation 19.


A careful examination of these texts will show that there is enough reason to conclude that the Rapture and the Second Coming to earth are not the same event. Let’s examine a brief list of some of the major points of contrast.


Meeting Christ in the air versus returning with Christ


The Rapture verses say that when Jesus comes, He comes in the air. Believers are caught up from the ground into the air to be with Christ, and are taken to the Father’s house in heaven. But in the Second Coming verses, the opposite order occurs, with Jesus coming down to the earth while bringing His saints with Him, and His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives.


Furthermore, let’s look at the location of believers during these events. In the Rapture verses, the believers are brought up from the earth to heaven to be with Jesus. But in the Second Coming verses, when Jesus comes back to earth from heaven with the believers with him, there are believers (Tribulation saints) still on the earth.


If the Rapture and the Second Coming are the same event, then if Jesus brought all the believers up at the Rapture, how could there be believers still on the Earth at the Second Coming? A significant time lapse would’ve had to occur between the Rapture and Second Coming for so many people to come to belief in Jesus as Savior. So, again, these contradictory descriptions force us to understand these to be two separate and distinct events.


A mystery event versus an event known and expected throughout

Old Testament Prophecy


In the Rapture verses, the catching away or gathering of the saints to Christ is described as a mystery that Paul was revealing.


In John 14 (the “Upper Room Discourse”) and possibly even in a vaguer sense in His Olivet Discourse, Jesus had introduced the basic concept of the Rapture in “seed form.” He expressed it as a rescue of the righteous, who would be brought to the Father’s house in heaven prior to a time of imminent distress. But it was Paul who later expounded upon this promise, revealing it as a doctrine that we can now more fully understand. Paul described the full unveiling of this Rapture doctrine as a “mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). A mystery in the Greek Biblical sense means a concept that was previously unknown, but now revealed (Strong’s # G3466 – mustérion). [5]


Post-tribulationists suggest that Jesus's description of a future “gathering of His elect” at His Second Coming (in Matthew 24) refers to the Rapture. Many people confuse this gathering of the elect with the Rapture, as the language sounds similar. But if Paul, who wrote much later on, was the first to reveal in detail this mystery doctrine of the gathering of the Church at the Rapture, than the gathering described by Jesus at the Second Coming would seem to be referring to something else. Paul couldn’t have revealed it as a mystery if it was already described in detail by Jesus long before.


It turns out that this gathering of the elect described by Christ in Matthew 24 is a familiar prophetic event to anyone who knows their Old Testament well – it refers to the re-gathering of Israel in faith in preparation for blessing after the Tribulation as the Millennial Kingdom is about to be established (cf. Isaiah 27:12-13; 43:5-7; et al.).


And so, the mystery nature of the Rapture of the Church contradicts the well-known nature of the prophetic gathering of Israel at the Second Coming, helping us recognize their distinction as separate events. These are just a few of the many Biblical differentiators between the Rapture and the Second Coming, helping us recognize that they are two different events happening at two different times.


7 – Confirmation in Typology


While we do not use Biblical typology to determine doctrine, it can be a powerful voice of confirmation when it aligns with and supports a clear Biblical teaching. This is certainly the case concerning the prominence of pre-tribulational Rapture typology in scripture.


One of the most powerful examples is found in the ancient Hebrew wedding, whose rituals God instituted. All throughout the Gospels, Jesus relied on the ancient Jewish wedding pattern for many of His parables, climaxing in His "Bridegroom's promise" in the Upper Room in John 14 (as reviewed in our previous four-part article series on this topic). We will provide a brief synopsis of the relevant points that align solely with a pre-tribulational Rapture timing.


First, when the prospective bridegroom was of age, he would begin the process of finding a bride. Once he found a young woman of interest, the young man would leave his home and travel to the home of the prospective bride’s father. There, he would work on the details of the proposal and agreement. When the agreement was reached, and the father consented, the prospective bride would be offered a cup of wine by the prospective bridegroom. If she drank from the cup, she was accepting his marriage proposal. If she refused it, she was refusing him.


After drinking from the cup, a legal contract between the two would be in place (the ketubah). At this time, they were called husband and wife, although it was only yet the betrothal period and the actual wedding ceremony and consummation had not yet taken place. Their official status was “betrothed,” and not yet fully married. After this was done, the bridegroom made the statement to his bride-to-be that he would leave her to go back to his father’s house and prepare a place for her. This addition onto the father’s house was referred to as the cheder, meaning the bridechamber, but could also be called the chuppah, a bridal canopy. His promise was that he would one day return to receive her.


During this period of betrothal, the bride was considered sanctified, consecrated, and set apart for her future husband, as she had been bought with a great price. This price to the Jews did not signify that the bride was purchased as an item like a piece of furniture or a servant, but rather that by the exchanging of something of value, a change of status was conferred upon her. In other words, she goes from single to betrothed-to-be-married. During this time of betrothal separation, which typically lasted about one to two years, the bride spent her time preparing for her wedding and awaiting her bridegroom’s promised imminent return. She would faithfully keep watch, lest he returned while she was unaware and unready.


Meanwhile, the bridegroom returned to his father’s house and began construction of the bridechamber, which was typically a room added onto his father’s house. The construction is examined and approved only by the father. When the father was satisfied with the construction, he would give his son permission to go and receive his bride.


When it was time for the bridegroom to go and receive his bride, there was great celebration and rejoicing. The groom would select several of his trusted friends to act as the “friends of the bridegroom,” or what we today would call the “best man.” They would act as the witnesses required for the marriage to be legal. The bridegroom and his friends would form a wedding party to travel to the home of the bride, along with virgin bridesmaids that would run ahead.


In the form of a torchlit procession, typically at night, they would approach the home of the bride. Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the exact time of his coming. To maintain her readiness, she may keep an oil lamp lit throughout the night. As the procession approached the home of the bride, at a distance, a shofar (a ram's horn trumpet) would be blown, and there would be shouts to alert the bride that “the bridegroom cometh!”


She would be prepared and ready, and would use these last moments to gather her belongings and be ready to immediately leave with her bridegroom. The arrival of the groom at the bride’s house signaled his intention of “taking her to wife.” This act of “taking” or in a sense romantically abducting the bride was referred to as nesuin, which literally means “taking.” She would be lifted up, placed onto a bridal litter, and carried off to the bridegroom’s fathers house with great joy and celebration.


Once back at the father’s house, the ceremony was performed. Many guests would be assembled for the week-long wedding celebration. On this day, the bridegroom and the bride would be treated like a king and queen at their coronation. Every expense was taken to ensure their joy.


Following the ceremony, the bridegroom and his bride would retire in seclusion to the bridechamber, where they would consummate the marriage through sexual intimacy. When the marriage was consummated, the friend of the bridegroom would joyfully deliver the news to the guests outside, and the week-long wedding celebration would begin. The new couple would emerge at the end of the seven-day celebration feast and the bride would be unveiled for all to see, as she is introduced to the community.


Throughout the scriptures, the terminology and themes of the ancient Jewish wedding ritual are consistently applied to the relationship between the Messiah and His bride the Church. We can say that the ancient Hebrew wedding is a type of the ultimate wedding – the one between Jesus Christ and the Church. Let’s explore these similarities in parallel to what we just went through.


Jesus, like the prospective bridegroom, left His Father’s house (in heaven) and travelled to the home of His prospective bride (He came to earth in the form of a man – the Incarnation). And just like the bride did not initially choose the groom, we did not choose Christ (John 15:16).


At the Last Supper meal, Jesus presented a cup of wine, and assuming the position of a Bridegroom, He told His bride-to-be that by the drinking of the cup, she is agreeing to His marriage proposal (1 Corinthians 11:25-26). He established this tradition of the Lord’s Supper to commemorate and celebrate the marriage covenant. And just as the earthly bridegroom would leave after the bride’s agreement, in order to go prepare a place for her, and then later return, our heavenly Bridegroom instructed us to do this in remembrance of Him until He returns for us.


Then, Jesus, before His crucifixion, made the promise of a bridegroom to His disciples who would soon become the foundation of His future Church. He had been warning the disciples of His coming departure and death, and gave them a comforting promise.


Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. -John 14:1-3

This was Jesus’ first explicit promise of what the disciples would later learn to recognize as the Rapture, or the nesuin – the romantic abduction or snatching away of the bride – and He presented it using the phraseology of a Bridegroom. The word “mansion” here in Greek refers to a lodging, a dwelling-place, or a room, as in the room that would be added onto the father’s house. When asked about the timing of His return, like any Jewish bridegroom, Jesus said:


But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. -Matthew 24:36

In other words, like the bridegroom, Jesus promised to go back to His Father's house, prepare a bride-chamber, and then return at an unknown time to receive His bride. She must be ready on an ongoing basis, as His return remains imminent. Like the Hebrew brides who would await their bridegrooms during the betrothal period (typically one to two years), the Church has been eagerly awaiting the return of her Bridegroom for about two thousand years.


Just as the bridegroom would come for the bride at any time, often at night, and with a shout and sound of a trumpet, in like manner, the Lord will return as a Bridegroom for the Church. Jesus’s parable in Matthew 25 emphasizes the practice of the Hebrew bridegrooms often approaching at night, with a cry or a shout alerting the bride of His arrival.


And at midnight there was a cry [or a shout] made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. -Matthew 25:6

Many of these same idioms are included by Paul in his description of the Rapture in the following passage.


For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. -1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Like the ancient Hebrew brides who would remain hidden away in the bride-chamber for the marriage week, scripture describes a bridal week for the Church in which we will be in the wedding chamber with our Bridegroom, Christ. As we described earlier, there remains a final seven-year period of time (the Tribulation) that is connected with the Jewish people specifically (Daniel 9). As we know, the doctrine of the pre-tribulational Rapture advocates that the catching away of the Church will happen prior to this seven-year period. So, according to that pattern, while the Jewish people’s final “week” is taking place on earth, we (Jesus and His bride, the Church), will celebrate our marriage “week” in our heavenly chuppah (or cheder), hidden away from view! Of course, only a pretribulational Rapture would align with this pattern!


Though the Church was unknown to the Old Testament audience, we find some interesting prophetic allusions that may refer to the heavenly chuppah or cheder. The theme of the Lord returning in power and glory to visit judgment on the earth is spoken of in Joel 2, referring prophetically to the “Day of the Lord.” It then speaks of a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and a bride from her chuppah.


And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? … Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet [chuppah]. -Joel 2:11, 15-16

And just as every Hebrew wedding celebrated with a great wedding feast, in like manner, following the seven years in our heavenly chuppah while the Tribulation was taking place on earth, Jesus Christ will return to earth (at the Second Coming) with His unveiled bride – the Church – to also celebrate with a marriage supper. At this time, the angels will gather the scattered remnant from all over the earth who had survived the Tribulation, and they will enter the Kingdom and celebrate the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, Christ, and His bride (Revelation 19:9, 11-14).


It is astonishing to recognize that everything that God has said about His marriage to His bride, the Church, was anticipated thousands of years earlier in the institution of these customs. As you can see, only a pretribulational Rapture can fit in with this prophetic patterning.


Conclusion


These were only seven of the many proofs that can be offered in favor of a pretribulational view of the Rapture's timing. Many more can can be presented, but time and space limit our ability to fully explore them here. This understanding arises from the consistent application of a literal, plain interpretation of the Bible. All other views end up compromising a consistent literal interpretive method at some point. As the eminent theologian John Walvoord said:


The only view that interprets prophecy literally and consistently is that of the pretribulational, premillennial position. [6]

Maranatha!


 

[1] David Hocking, “The Rapture In Revelation,” Pre-Trib.org. (https://www.pre-trib.org/pretribfiles/pdfs/Hocking-TheRaptureinRevelati.pdf - Retrieved 8/20/19)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Renald Showers, Maranatha: Our Lord Come! Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel, 1995, p. 127.

[4] Wayne A. Brindle, “Imminence” in The Popular Encyclopedia Of Bible Prophecy, eds. Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson, Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2004, p. 144.

[5] Strong’s Concordance, entry “3466, mustérion,” BibleHub.com. (https://www.biblehub.com/greek/3466.htm - Retrieved 7/12/19)

[6] John F. Walvoord, Prophecy in the New Millennium, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2001, p. 122.


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