Question / Comment - A Pre-Tribulation Rapture?
I would be very appreciative if you could provide me with one verse or passage of Scripture which states that Jesus will come back for the Church before the Great Tribulation. The reason I ask is that one day the Lord said to me, "I never said I would return before the Great Tribulation." So far I have been unable to find such a verse or word from God. I believe this is extremely important in light of Jeremiah 23:15-31 and Ezekiel 13.
 
JPN Reply:

There are many reasons why I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture and reject a post-tribulation scenario. If I was going to use just one verse off the top of my head I would use 1 Thess 1:8-10.

"The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."

So the Thessalonians were waiting for Jesus to return from Heaven (not the antichrist) who would rescue them from the wrath to come (not waiting to go through it.) - And they were commended for doing so!

To my mind a post tribulation rapture confuses law and grace, and God's separate purposes for Israel and the Church. To my mind, it is also quite clear in Revelation (the most detailed book of the tribulation period) that the overall structure and outline of the book is given in Rev 1:19 where Jesus told John to:

'Write therefore the things which you saw, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass after this.'

The things John had just seen is the vision of Jesus in Rev 1:12-16
The things which are is the messages to the churches in Rev 2:1-3:22 (these give us an overview of the entire church age)
The things which take place after this is Rev 4:1 onwards. From this point Revelation discusses that which happens after the church age.

To me, it makes perfect sense that John in chapter 4.1 would be told that he would now be shown the 'things which take place after this.' (After the church age.) It makes sense that the church is not mentioned again after this point apart from being seen at the marriage of the lamb BEFORE the return of Jesus in Revelation 19. It also makes sense, to me at least, that there is such a focus on the Jews and Jerusalem again because God has got unfinished business there! The 144,000 Jews mentioned are even called the 'first fruits' in Rev 14:4 which makes sense to me if this is not the church age. Otherwise, if the church goes through the tribulation, why would they be called 'first fruits' unto the lamb?

To my mind it makes sense that the bride of Christ, having gone to the wedding ceremony, would then return with Jesus 'clothed in fine linen, white and pure.' (Compare the description of the bride in Rev 19:8 with those that follow Jesus out of Heaven in Rev 19:14).

A pre-tribulation rapture also makes sense in my mind with Jesus' illustration of His coming being like it was in the days of Noah. He says that in those days people were eating, drinking, getting married... ie carrying on with normal life having no idea that judgment was coming. This makes perfect sense in relation to a pre-tribulation rapture, but makes no sense that I can see with a post tribulation rapture where the earth has experienced all the judgment spoken of in Revelation and life will be anything but like normal!

It also makes sense in my mind why Jesus promised to come and take us back to His home (John 14:1-3 in fulfilment of the Jewish marriage type... in a post tribulation rapture scenario this makes no sense.)

No, thankfully the church has been promised that it will not experience God's wrath that He will pour out upon this earth. (Rom 5:9, 1 Thess 1:10, 5:9) The church, according to the Apostle Paul, are sons of the light and are not of the day of darkness (The Day of the Lord) that will come upon this earth. See 1 Thess 5:2-5.

I do want to say something briefly about Jeremiah 23:15-31 and Ezek 13 as well. From using those scriptures in connection with the pre-tribulation rapture, I assume that you believe that people who teach a pre-tribulation rapture are false prophets or are just trying to please the people with something that isn't true - something imaginary. Correct me if I'm off-base here but I assumed that was what you were trying to say. If it is true, then all I would say, and I'm sure you know this anyway, is that many godly men who desire only to be true to God's word believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. Obviously the pre-tribulation rapture was very popular among the Brethren Churches and I don't think you could accuse them of not wanting to be biblical or of just saying something that would please the people. Dave Hunt wrote in 'The Berean Call' a few points concerning pre vs post tribulation and while He gets called a lot of things, being a people pleaser is not one of them! If you want to read it use this link:

http://www.thebereancall.org/newsletters/oct03/article.htm

I also have come to the position I hold not because someone else believes it or because its become popular with the 'left behind' books but because I have always enjoyed studying prophecy for myself and I believe that a pre-tribulation rapture is the biblical view when all of scripture is looked at.

All the best.