Friday, January 25, 2019
Recently I had a very brief encounter with another believer on several points of our common faith. We spoke of challenges in business, and the dreadful political climate of our day among other things. Near the end of our conversation the comment was made, “Unfortunately, things will get much worse before they get better”, to which I responded with a heartfelt, “Amen!”
I responded to that comment by quoting Dan. 7:21 and Rev. 13:7, wherein the ancient prophet and apostle both bore witness to the same thing, saying, “It was granted to him [Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them”, which garnered this reply: “Well, I have faith in my Baptist pre-trib theology and will always hold to it!” I was saddened, for that person had been taken captive to an anti-Christ doctrine. I could only pray as we went our separate ways.
With great sadness I realize that many Christians value more their indoctrination to traditions and doctrines than God’s Word, especially that of the testimony of Jesus Christ which has been under attack for two millennia. But, as on all points of salvation, Jesus was not silent on the end-times.
In the first sermon of the New Covenant God said through Peter by the Holy Spirit, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you beforehand, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19–21).
Clearly, God’s Spirit tells us when Christ “will descend from heaven” (1 Thess. 4:16) to gather His elect saints at the rapture; and it occurs at “the times of restoration of all things”, which does not occur until “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31). It’s clear, Christians will not be raptured before the tribulation, nor at its mid-point, nor prior to God’s wrath upon the wicked in the great tribulation, but at “the restoration of all things”, and not before.
Beginning with Christ’s Olivet Discourse of the end-times, we gain much understanding from the example of ancient Israel whose false teachers and prophets didn’t believe God and led the people astray at the edge of Canaan when they were about to inherit their Promised Land.
Consider: would Israel have left Egypt had they known they’d become trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army pursuing them? No. And once across the Red Sea, and having received the Law, would they have journeyed to Canaan knowing they would face terrifying giants? No. Not except for Moses, Joshua and Caleb who believed God. Israel’s unbelief was proven when “they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt’” (Num. 14:4); and “in their hearts they turned back to Egypt” (Acts 7:39), being examples to us of the seven-year tribulation.
“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand” (Ezek. 33:6). And God reminds us that “there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). So, silence is equally culpable.
The pre-trib rapture lie does not demonstrate love for God or fellowman, but contempt for both. In another event of false teaching that imperiled the saints, the Apostle Paul by the Spirit dealt with false teachers who tried to enforce the law of circumcision, and said of those false teachers, “I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!” (Gal. 5:12). Teaching falsehood is deadly serious, and in the case of the pre-trib rapture it changes the biblical truth of God, who does not remove His people from tribulation, but carries them through it, that is, IF they believe Him. The pre-trib rapture has caused many to disbelieve the testimony of Jesus.
Being prepared for tribulation is critical, especially the global tribulation God foretold. Consider: if Noah hadn’t believed God, and prepared the Ark, both he and his family would have perished. If Joseph hadn’t believed God, and prepared, he and Israel would have perished with Egypt in the famine of that day. And when the generation of ancient Israel didn’t believe God at the edge of Canaan when they saw the giants, THEY DID PERISH in the wilderness! They did not inherit the promise! And so it will be again, because God said “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6); He also said “And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? (John 8:46). Therefore, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Jos. 24:15), be it the unbelieving wishful heart of man, or the perfect Word of God.
While the Church is largely unprepared to inherit its eternal possession, as was ancient Israel, consider this great difference: while God DID NOT tell ancient Israel of her impending entrapment at the Red Sea beforehand, nor of dreadful giants at the edge of Canaan, God DID TELL us beforehand of our entrapment between “the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3) and his “mark or the name of the beast” (Rev. 13:17), confirmed by Jesus saying “See, I have told you beforehand” (Matt. 24:25)! That’s part of God’s great love for His people who believe!
But the false pre-trib rapture narrative has destroyed all concern for God’s end-time promises. It’s nullified voluminous Scriptures that God intended for the preparation and endurance of His people and to find His provision and safety for the last half of the tribulation, when “the woman [the prepared Church] fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Rev. 12:6).
Believe that Christ “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything” (Acts 3:21 NIV), which occurs “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31); for then “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16); at “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4–6); “at the last day” (John 6:40, 44, 54); “at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:51–52); when “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15). Believe God and prepare.
Marlin J. Yoder