Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? - Wendy Wippel - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8024
One wise soul once observed that there’s a fine line between hobbies and mental illness. Particularly collecting. A blood relative of mine, e.g., proudly displays dozens of glass replicas of vintage cars, filled with aftershave. (I rest my case.) I collect evidences for pre-trib rapture. Which at least don’t add to the clutter.
Even among true evangelicals (increasingly outnumbered, seemingly, by those afflicted with itching ears), issues divide us, baptism (water/ Holy Spirit), musical instruments, eternal security. The most fervently debated topic, however, is, arguably, the rapture. Specifically its timing.
Varieties of theological positions on the timing of the rapture are floating around there in Greater Christendom. For instance, the position held by the emergent, postmodern “church”, who view the rapture in general as 1) a mythical event constructed by ignorant fundamental Christians through an overzealous twisting of Scripture and 2) one believed by that group, known otherwise as the lunatic fringe of Christianity.
I’m using the term “church” loosely when I talk about the postmodern church, but hey, so did John in Revelation 3:14. The bulk of the evangelical world, however, is divided, as far as the timing of the rapture goes, into two camps: rapture occurring before the beginning of the tribulation (otherwise known as pre-trib), and rapture at the end of tribulation predictably known as post-trib). As promised, in this column I will continue to share some of the reasons to anticipate pretrib rapture that I’ve been collecting. .
Continue, because I have previously posted several: What’s Your Flight Shedule? (Nov 13, 2014); Wednesday’s Church (October 3, 2012) and Going to the Chapel (November 23, 2011). And probably more that I have forgotten.
Let’s start from a birds-eye view. The Book of Revelation presents a timeline of endtime events, beginning with tribulation and ending with the final victory-of the Lamb over His enemies, as promised. It is this timeline in Revelation that enables us to figure out how all of the pieces of the prophetic picture scattered throughout the Old Testament books fit in, together giving us a wide-scope but also, detailed picture of the events prophesied to be our world to an end.
And Revelation begins with the state of the Church on earth (actually, in sequence, an entire timeline of church history, ending with the apostate church of Laodicea) followed by, in chronological sequence:
The Lord Jesus opens the first seal, and the antichrist, the imitation Christ, rides forth, and, with that, the tribulation begins. After the church is identified as being on earth and, after a door to heaven opens and God’s voice says, “come up here.” And—most intriguingly-- before the first seal of the tribulation is opened.
Not convinced? The rest of the book reiterates that the “Come up here” in Revelation 4, on the Revelation timeline, is, in fact, the rapture of the church. How can we tell? The next 15 chapters of Revelation.
Although the church is the absolute focus of the first three chapters of Revelation (before the “come up here”), mentioned, in fact 17 times in those three chapters, in the next 15 chapters of Revelation the church is completely and conspicuously absent. (Although Zion and Israel do appear, as do Judah, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Napthali, Issachar, Asher, Gad , Benjamin, Manasseh, and Joseph). The church finally reappears, however, in Revelation Chapter 19, but they’re not, as Hank Hanegraff would have us believe, enduring tribulation. To the contrary, the church is coming back to earth, with their bridegroom and Savior, as the purified and redeemed bride of Christ.
Past tense, done deal, fait accompli, as described in Revelation 19:
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints …. 11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had[e] a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,[f] followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp[g] sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
The armies in heaven, already purified, are clothed in fine linen (identifying them as the church vis-à-vis Revelation 19:8) and coming back now from heaven with their Savior and Lord. They follow Him out of heaven, not into heaven. So this is not the rapture. And Isaiah 65 identified the elect that are gathered at the end of tribulation as the remnant of Israel saved during the tribulation, not the church, as is often argued by the post-trib view.
And with that, the Revelation timeline of the church is complete. To recap: the church is the complete focus of Chapters 1-3, but then beckoned by God in Revelation 4 to “come up here”. They are then totally absent from the events on earth laid out in chapters 5-18, reappearing only in chapter 19 of Revelation as the bride of Christ (having completed her bridal “week” of seven years) on her way the wedding feast described in Revelation 19:9.
The purpose of the tribulation is spelled out for us in Hosea 5:15 and it’s not to purify the bride (who, as we saw above, has already purified and given, by her bridegroom, the garments of salvation).
It’s to bring His chosen people back into His arms. According to the Lord himself, “I will return again to my place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek my face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek me.”
And they will. But the church will be watching that glorious day from the balcony!