Question / Comment - The Great Tribulation is not the Wrath of God???
Hello, my brother,
I really appreciate and have been blessed by your website. On the issue of the rapture, it seems that you make no distinction between the Great Tribulation and the coming wrath and judgment of God. I see these as not one in the same, though. Christ’s return will truly be before the wrath of God, but after the Great Tribulation. If seen as separate, then I believe a stance on a pretribulation rapture cannot be sustained. Nevertheless, we have that future hope and glory. I certainly would prefer a pretribulation rapture! Yet, I believe it is wise that we all be prepared to withstand severely increasingly trying times. We experience increasing tribulation over time in these current days, and we all need to have a sense of urgency to prepare ourselves with bible literacy and to share the good news in the spirit of God’s love. My desire is that we not have schisms over debatable matters, but strive towards unity (not tolerance and compromise, though!). I believe that Romans 14 and Colossians 2:16 help us to have the correct heart and mind on debatable matters. I appreciate that we all have a genuine desire to walk in God’s truth to the best of our understanding. We must all remain humble and teachable. I continue to learn and gain in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, and over the course of this journey, through this process of growing and learning, I have come to different understandings than I may have formerly had.
Blessings to you, and be encouraged to press on.
thanks for the email. People often see these things differently with prophecy and the timing of the rapture so it is important to understand that this is not the essentials of the faith in which we fellowship with each other. I will reply briefly to what you have written in about though so that you know where I'm coming from (if it matters!)
You are correct that I have made no distinction between the Great Tribulation and the wrath and Judgement of God. The reason for this is because I do not believe such a distinction is valid. I have read a couple of books on the 'Pre-Wrath' rapture, and while agreeing with various points, I do not agree with it's general teaching on the timing of the rapture and the period of God's wrath in the tribulation. I believe from my reading of scripture that the entire 7 year period (known as Daniel's 70th Week or the tribulation) is the wrath of God. This will most certainly intensify and even become more apparent that it is directly from God as the 7 year period plays out, but it is still His wrath from the start. This period of time is outlined in Revelation chapters 6-19. Some try to say that the wrath of God doesn't begin until the 6th seal in Rev 6:12 but I personally don't agree with that. You will note that all of the seal judgements originate in Heaven. They can't even start until Christ (and no one else!) breaks the seal to initiate them. This is straight from Heaven and is the judgement of God. Each seal is opened by Jesus (Rev 6:1,3,5,7,9,12) and together constitute the 'wrath of the lamb'. Though this term is not used until the 6th seal doesn't mean that the first 5 seals are not His wrath. Each seal is of the same book that brings judgment directly from Jesus in Heaven.
Also, if we look at the type of judgment these early seals initiate we will see the hand of God. There is death by sword (Rev 6:7-8), famine (Rev 6:5,6,8), wild animals (Rev 6:8) and pestilence and plague (Rev 6:8). This is not new. Look at the judgement of God as declared in Ezek 14:21 -
"For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my
four dreadful judgments—sword
and famine and wild beasts and plague—to kill its men and their animals!
You will see that sword, famine, wild beasts and plague, the exact same judgments as in Revelation 6, are called by the Lord 'my four dreadful judgments'. They are His judgments based on His wrath.
Even if you were going to make a distinction between the Great Tribulation and the wrath of God (which as previously mentioned isn't valid in my opinion) it doesn't eliminate a pre-Tribulation rapture. The fact is that John gives us a pretty simple guideline to the book of Revelation in chapter 1 vs 18. As I have written in a previous question, the threefold outline is:
'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.' That is, 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 that there is such a focus on the Jews and Jerusalem again in Revelation 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 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?
So even if you were to say that the Great Tribulation is not the Judgment of God you still don't change the outline or order of Rev 1:18 which shows that this period of time (Rev 4 - 19) occurs after the church age (Rev 2-3) and it doesn't change the fact that the church is only pictured in Heaven during these chapters. Remember - this is 'Daniel's 70th Week'. i.e. It is the last of the 7 years in which God deals distinctly with the nation of Israel (like the first 69 weeks!) to bring that nation to Himself.
Anyway, I wrote a little more than I intended. That is how I see it. Many others have pointed out some pretty large holes in the pre-wrath theory and I'll leave you to look into these things as shown in the word of God. Maybe you may come to a different understanding than you formerly had? Maybe! : )
Either way, His return is going to be incredible and isn't it great that we will both take part in it!
All the best
Luke 21:36 'Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.'