Bible Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture – Part 1

Simeon Western

In the last article (I will keep thee), we looked at the promise of a pre-Tribulation Rapture in Revelation 3:10 which reads,

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

This verse along with others such as 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 5:9 present very clear promises that the Church-age saints will not go through the 7-year tribulation period. But there are other Bible truths that support the doctrine of the pre-Tribulation Rapture and a number of these will be our focus in this article and the next. For this article, let’s consider three Bible reasons for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

1. The Purpose of the Tribulation is for Israel, not the Church.

Daniel’s 70-week prophecy makes this truth very plain –

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Dan. 9:24).

In the 70-week prophecy (490 prophetic years), God is dealing with Israel, not the church. Or to put it in the words of one of my Bible College lecturers, “The 70 weeks prophecy has to do with Jews and Jerusalem.”

The first 69 weeks (483 prophetic years) have been fulfilled, starting with the decree of Artaxerxes to restore and rebuild Jerusalem in 445 B.C. and finishing in Passion week where Messiah was “cut off” (Dan. 9:26).

In those first 69 prophetic weeks, was God dealing with the church or with national Israel? Israel of course! The final prophetic week yet to be fulfilled (the 7-year Tribulation period) will also be dealing with “thy people” (Israel) and “thy holy city” (Jerusalem), not the Church.

The Tribulation period is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), again emphasizing that it is for Israel, not the Church.

The Tribulation is described in detail in Revelation 4-18. In these chapters there is not a single mention of the church but there are frequent references to Israel. For example, we have the 144,000 Jewish servants of God sealed in Revelation 7, the 2 Jewish witnesses prophesying from Jerusalem in chapter 11 and Israel pictured as a woman in Rev. 12 where she escapes from the dragon.

The Olivet Discourse, which also describes key details of the Tribulation, is distinctly Jewish in its focus with its reference to the Temple (Matt. 24:15), ‘Judea’ (Vs. 16) and the “sabbath day” (Vs. 20).

The Church age was a mystery (Eph.3:4-5) unseen by the Old Testament prophets and it sits between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel. The Apostle Paul put it this way,

“…blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).

At the end of the Church age, God will remove the Church through the Rapture and then turn His primary focus back on dealing with national Israel to bring her to repentance during the Tribulation period. God will also be pouring out His wrath against the unrepentant earth dwellers “to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev. 3:10). To try and place the church in any part of Daniel’s 70th week is confusion.

We must always remember that God has two programs, one for Israel and one for the church and the two must NOT be confused. They are like two separate trains, running on two separate railroad tracks.

It is fascinating to observe that even in the New Jerusalem, the distinction between Israel and the church is maintained. The names of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel are inscribed on the gates of the New Jerusalem as representatives of the nation of Israel (Rev. 21:12) and the names of the 12 apostles on the foundations (Rev. 21:14) as representatives of the church (See Eph. 2:20). So even in eternity, Israel will still be Israel and the Church will still be the Church!

2. The Doctrine of Immanency Requires a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

The Rapture is a sign-less event, meaning it can happen at any time whereas the second coming is preceded by definite signs. The word ‘imminent’ combines the concepts of both certainty and uncertainty. When used of the Rapture it means that Christ’s coming is a sure and certain event but the timing of that event is uncertain. This truth creates a spirit of anticipation, alertness and expectancy on the part of the believer. One writer puts it this way,

“On the certainty of the event, our faith is grounded: by the uncertainty of the time, our hope is stimulated, and our watchfulness aroused.” (Alford)

The mid-Trib, pre-Wrath and post- Trib heretics want to rob us of this blessed truth, telling us that it is wrong to preach that “Christ could come at any moment” because we are to first look for the revelation of the Antichrist before the coming of Jesus Christ.

What an evil and wicked error to turn the attention of believers away from looking expectantly for Christ to come at any moment, to looking for the coming of Antichrist!

Despite what the proponents of false doctrine may say, we wholeheartedly affirm the truth that Christ could come at any moment, even before you finish reading this article! So Christian be ready for the Rapture!

The theme of immanency is found numerous times throughout the New Testament in verses such as Rom. 13:11-12; Phil. 4:5; 1Thess.5:4-9; Titus 2:13; James 5:8-9; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 1 Cor.1:7 and Phil. 3:20. The following story helps illustrate the truth of the imminent return of Christ:

A Gardener for a large estate in northern Italy was conducting a visitor through the castle and the beautiful, well-groomed grounds. As the visitor lunched with the Gardener and his wife, he commended them for the beautiful way they were keeping the gardens. He asked, “By the way, when was the last time the owner was here? “About ten years ago.” The Gardener replied.

The visitor asked, “Then why do you keep the gardens in such an immaculate, lovely manner?”

The gardener replied, “Because I’m expecting him to return.”

“Is he coming next week?”

The gardener replied, “I don’t know when he is coming, but I am expecting him today.” (Source Unknown)

Like the faithful gardener in the story, we are to work while we wait for the Rapture, expecting Christ’s return at any moment!

3. The Structure of the Book of Revelation Shows the Church is Not on the Earth During the Tribulation.

The Church is mentioned 19 times in the first three chapters of Revelation. After that, the Church is not mentioned again until chapter 19 where she is seen as the bride of Christ returning with Him at His second coming. The actual word ‘Church’ does not appear again after chapter three until Rev. 22:16, right at the very end of the Book.

Why is the Church not mentioned in chapters 4-18? Very simple. The Church isn’t there! John’s catching up to heaven in Revelation 4:1 pictures the Rapture of the Church as taking place before the Tribulation commences –

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

There is another interesting clue that the Church is absent from chapters 4-18 found in chapter 13:9 where we read:

“If any man have an ear, let him hear.”

You will notice there is a phrase missing that is found every time this same statement occurs back in chapters 2 and 3. It is “what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (See Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).

Why is the reference to the Church in Rev.13:9 removed from the formula? Very simple. Because the Church isn’t there! The call in chapter 13 is to the Tribulation saints, not the Church age saints!

So, don’t let anyone tell you the pre- Tribulation Rapture has no basis in Scripture. It is based on sound Scriptural truths and we need to hold it all the dearer as we see the day approaching.