In the previous post I discussed two of the three natural reasons found within scripture that the rapture will be prior to the tribulation. All three of these reasons go beyond just the chronological outline of the last things that the the scriptures present, and deal also with the characteristics of the end time warnings themselves.
In that previous post (Rapture part 3) we named three natural reasons that the Rapture is not going to be Post Tribulation, but we only discussed two to of them. They are 1.) The Doctrine of Imminency; 2.) The Days of Normalcy and 3.) The Declared Unexpectancy.
It is that third one that I want to deal with here.
Any study of the end times must include a clear definition of the “day of the Lord.” This phrase, others like it, and the entire concept, is scattered all through the Bible. In fact the entire discussion of the “last things” is really a discussion dealing with “the day of the Lord.”
Right now, we are living in the day of man, (my phrase). The devil is the prince of the power of the air, man seems to be living large and in charge, and the sin is having it’s hay day as we speak. Men blaspheme God regularly and jovially. Truth is irrelevent, spiritual reality is a non-issue, and the sinful fleshly nature of men are being satisfied, gratified, and in many cases glorified; it is man’s day. But not for ever.
There is a time coming when it will no longer be the day of man, but will in fact be the day of the Lord! What then is that day?
For lack of time and space, the day of the Lord is a “period of time”. It is not a 24 hour period of time, but it is a period of time. It starts on that dawning day in which the great tribulation spoken of by Jesus formally begins, and carries all the way through to the establishment of Christ’s millennial kingdom on earth. It is the period of time that will bring an end to the transgressions of humanity. There are some characteristics about this event, that all but demand the rapture be prior to the tribulation.
First of all, – This event will begin suddenly, and without warning, with a clear and definitive beginning.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 speaks of this event completely taking the world by surprise. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
Peter also warned in 2 Peter 3:10 – “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
That being said the scriptures clearly teach that the commencement of this event will be sudden, it will be traumatic, and the world will be without warning, and without preparation. Whatever else may be said, rest assured that this event known of as the day of the Lord will have a clear and definitive beginning. It will begin at a time when the world believes it has come to a place of “peace and safety.”
Now don’t miss this. Peace and Safety are used to describe the times in the estimation of men’s minds. Then the day of the Lord begins suddenly and without warning. Jesus said that there would be a time when society would be cool calm and collected, and then suddenly and without warning, there would be a great vanishing of people.
That being said, it doesn’t really take a rocket surgeon to realize that they are both speaking of the same event; in which the Rapture of the Saved during a time of peace, safety, and normalcy, will be the inauguration of the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
2nd – Just like the term “day of the Lord” encompasses a period, likewise the term “coming of the Lord” also speaks of more than merely one event. It is interchangeable with the Rapture in which Christ “comes to the air”, and the “Second Coming” in which Christ comes to the “ground.” When the scriptures speak of the “coming of the Lord” they are often speaking of “all things related to the coming of the Lord” which includes the Rapture event, as well as the tribulation events.
3rd – Now here is a simple truth to understand. If the Rapture is located at the close of the tribulation period, it will not happen with a great deal of mystery. Once the tribulation begins, the unexpectancy of the Rapture evaporates.
Now the fact is that the rapture should only come as a thief in the night to the lost. They will be the only ones who have something stolen, and they will be the only ones not watching or listening for Christ’s call. What will they have stolen from them? – Loved ones. Friends. Family. Co-workers. Acquaintences.
This one event is two things to two groups of people. To the Lost it will be the Night of the Thief. To the Saved it will be the Day of the Lord. As night falls on the lost, day dawns on the saved.
Paul went on to say in 1 Thessalonians 5 that we are not children of the night. He said “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. ” This is a clear call for the Christian to be watching and in anticipation of His return at all times, including the time we are now in. I believe with all of my heart that it will be a sin for any Christian to be surprised by the Rapture.
Undersand this; there is no need to watch and be sober and be awake now if the rapture is going to follow the tribulation. If the rapture follows the tribulation period, then we can wait for the Antichrist instead of Christ; we can look for calamities and tragedies, globalization, death and destruction, hailstones, demon scorpions, guillotines, bloody oceans, boils, and famine. Just to name a few things.
The problem is that those events just described, cannot exist at the same time as “peace and safety” and “drinking and marrying and giving in marriage.” The problem goes even further to say that all such things that will happen will merely be mile markers on the way to a known time of rapture, when the scriptures makes it clear that it will be a mystery until it happens.
Just by looking at the descriptions of the times, and the overriding unexpectancy of the initiation of the Day of the Lord, it is very simple to see that the Rapture will occur prior to the tribulation period.
But that’s not all.
There are several more reasons to believe in the Pre-Tribulation rapture other than the ones that I have mentioned. The Bible gives us a timeline to look at. We also have to deal with the “last trump” issue, which winds up being one of the most fundamental reasons not to believe in a post-trib rapture, as well as understanding the “first resurrection.” Lord willing, (He doesn’t call us out, and I don’t die) I will take up those issues.
For now though, you can take confidence and comfort in the ever present possibility that Christ Jesus could call us out of this world any second of any minute of any day. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful Change Worth Making?