The Rapture and the Tribulation
November 8, 2016
Dr. Roger G. Ford, Ph.D., P.E.
There are only two types of people in the world – believers and unbelievers; the saved and the lost; the redeemed and the unredeemed; those who love God and those who hate God; those with eternal life and those with eternal punishment; the children of God and the children of the devil; those in the Kingdom of God and those in the kingdom of darkness; the Saints and the ain’ts!
In 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11, Paul contrasts the people of the light and the people of the darkness – the people of the day and the people of the night. Psalm 107: 10,11 says, “Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the most High.” This characterizes those without God or disobedient to God as being in darkness. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:4,5, is encouraging and assuring this young church that they are not of the darkness, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness…ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”
On the other hand, people in darkness are in Satan’s evil kingdom by choice. John 3:19,20 says, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds be found out.”
The Day of the Lord is another name for the Tribulation which is primarily for the Jews to come back to Jehovah (Jeremiah 30:7) , but, those left behind after the Rapture will also go through the Tribulation because the Tribulation or the Day of the Lord is darkness. Amos 5:18,20 says, “Woe unto you that desire the Day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The Day of the Lord is darkness, and not light…Shall not the Day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?”
As believers, the dominant influence in our lives is the light of Jesus Christ since we are children of light (John 12:36), and He said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life'” (Jn. 8:12).
So? The Thessalonian church was young and unsure of their situation, so Paul reassures them by telling them that, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 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.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2,3) The “they” and “them” in this passage refer to the children of the night, not the children of the day or the Thessalonian believers.
Now comes the most amazing and wonderful news to all children of the light in verses 9 and 10, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep (die), we should live together with Him.” What is this wrath? It is not a momentary outburst of rage. It refers to “an abiding and settled state of mind”, or, in other words, to the Day of the Lord or the Tribulation which was the Thessalonians major concern.
What is the conclusion to all of this? That the Church of Jesus Christ will not go through any part of the Tribulation because the Tribulation is the Day of the Lord, God’s wrath against a disbelieving Chosen People in order to get them to return to their God. It is not for the Church of Jesus Christ. We are not destined for wrath because we are 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 1:10) Plus, Romans 5:9 promises, “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” And, Revelation 3:10 says, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from (“ek” which means “out of” or “from”) the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
The Bible is very clear that the Rapture is a pre-Tribulation event meaning that the Rapture, or the escape of the Church from the wrath of the Day of the Lord, will come before the start of the Tribulation, probably a few years before, actually (refer to Lesson Two). And, exactly when does the Rapture take place? We do not know exactly because it is imminent, it is sign-less, and we should expect it anytime and be ready to meet the Lord at all times. “Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:7–9). Therefore, we should be patient, not knowing exactly when to expect the Rapture, but knowing the general time for it to come. “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)
The mid-Tribulation and post-Tribulation views, even the pre-wrath or 2/3 of the way through the Tribulation view, cannot be imminent because Revelation gives a blow-by-blow account of exactly what to expect throughout the Tribulation. You cannot expectantly wait for the Rapture and not know when it will come if you know what happens next.
What does this mean to the Christian, the true believe in both heart and mind that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity Who came to earth to live a perfect life, die an innocent death thereby to pay the extreme penalty for all of mankind’s sins, and rise again the third day to be forever, again, with the Father? Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to each of us that believe as a comforter and a “paraklete” or One Who comes alongside us to guide and direct our new life in Christ. And He also gave us the assurance that when the time comes, and that time has absolutely no signs, no precursors to announce its exact time, Jesus will “harpazo” us, “catch us up”, to be with Him forever and “out of” the wrath of the Day of the Lord!