Before the Wrath
When Exploration Films announced their upcoming prophecy video was titled Before The Wrath, many prewrathers’ ears perked up and wanted to know who was producing it. Disappointment ensued when it was discovered that this was not a prewrath initiative, in fact, something entirely different. This post is a review of this roughly 1 hour 23 minute video. Here is some of the opening information.
A Film by Brent Miller Jr.
Ingenuity Films/Exploration Films
Based on True Discoveries from the Time of Christ
Narration by Kevin Sorbo
This presentation takes the return of Jesus Christ as true, and immediately equates it as the rapture. There is a recent archaeological discovery which sheds new light on the return of Jesus Christ. This is the big hype throughout the video. This “discovery” proves that He is coming back. It will focus on first century believers and their point of view. For instance, the opening scene is a first century believer writing on papyrus (or something) words which I typed verbatim. Toward the end of the scene, the writing has ceased and he seals the scroll, just as the word “sealed” is narrated. It is unclear if they are portraying this person as writing scripture, which the following paragraph is not scripture, but could be several scriptures patched together. Note also the use of the word “convergence” as this company recently produced another prophecy video titled The Coming Convergence.
“Though He first came to save the world, He will return to judge it. My brothers and sisters in Christ, know that a time of great tribulation approaches such as has not been seen since the beginning of the world nor shall there ever be again. But our Lord will return to retrieve those that follow Him from the wrath that will be poured out upon all who are living on the face of the earth. A time of worldwide wars, famines, great earthquakes, and sickness that will bring an abundance of death. The oceans will rage and the land will burn, as the moon becomes as blood and the sun black as sackcloth. But I warn you, before that terrible day there will be a great falling away from the faith. And when the hour of judgment comes upon this fallen world, few will remain that truly believe. Though the convergence of signs for His return have been revealed to you throughout the scriptures, there are some mysteries that God proclaims will be sealed until the time of the end – understanding that will be unveiled to the generation that will witness the return of the Messiah. I fear, though, that when the Savior returns will He find any faith left on the earth?”
The documentary portion begins stating that there is division regarding the signs about when the Messiah will return. Jan Markell uses the phrase “the timing of the rapture” in the opening sequence to show this is a rapture debate film. She states that the debate “within the past ten years” has gone off the chart. The film was made in 2020, so what exactly in the last ten years has gone off the chart? What in the debate is different between 2010-2020?
J. D. Farag highlights the division about the rapture, stating that the church is fighting with each other instead of loving each other. A study shows that infighting among Christians is deepening. 5 minutes into the video, there is a poll presented by Scott McConnell from Lifeway Research as to when believers think the rapture will occur. The largest group is pretrib at 36%, so there is no consensus on this. They continue with stating that 4% believe it will happen in the middle, 18% believe it will happen at the end, 13% consist of “other timing variations”, 4% aren’t sure about any of it, 25% believe in no rapture at all. Note: there is no attempt to define what is meant by the middle or the end here. Lizette Dillinger of Lifeway Research talks about Christians with a lot of information at their fingertips who want to put together a cornucopia of eschatological beliefs without any kind of hermeneutical framework. [This statement will become quite ironic as we progress.] Jan Markell states that this division will drive people away from Christianity. Scott McConnell adds that if Christians can’t even explain how Jesus is going to return, that this leaves non-believers scratching their heads. Jay McConnell, Middle East anthropologist, makes frequent appearances.
The narrator hints that there is a discovery buried by the sands of time that those who walked with Christ understood which we do not. Jesus and His disciples were Galileans, with customs that were unique to them. He used these words, symbols, and parables to speak to them based on their culture. J. D. Farag states that it is hard for us to understand in our day what it was like for them in their day. They hint at the Olivet Discourse, but then say we must delve into their culture first.
Interjection: I am always suspicious when people tell me that before I read the Bible for myself, that first I have to understand all these principles and ideas that are not even in the Bible. Then after lengthy explanations they say, “Okay, now that you understand all this, now you can read the passage.” That’s exactly what we will see in this presentation.
After 15 minutes of hype about the culture of the Galileans, and a discovery that will change our point of view concerning the rapture, we finally get into an ancient ceremony that the Galileans understood which we don’t. The ancient secret is a “one-of-a-kind wedding”, a wedding that contains a series of customs that would unfold over an entire year, revealing a chronological sequence of events that perfectly aligns with the recorded biblical prophecies leading to the second coming of Christ. They point to early language of Jesus which points to wedding banquet language. Interjection: Interesting how they say the end of the world is going to be like a Galilean style wedding, but the scriptures state that the kingdom of God is (not will be) like a wedding banquet, see Matthew 22:1-3, John 3:29. Jan Markell states that the parallels to the rapture are so incredible and so brilliant.
They take us back to the ancient sequence of events within their wedding ceremonies which will uncover the truth about the rapture, the end of the world, and the second coming of the Messiah. They talk about the wedding at Cana without giving the reference. There is a pretty good reenactment of what this wedding ceremony would have been like. There would be an announcement where everyone would rush to the place where it is occurring to witness it. This would result in wedding guests, or witnesses, to witness the event of the wedding, because you can’t make a covenant without having witnesses to ratify the covenant. There was a written covenant, then the bride and groom would agree to the terms. Gifts would be exchanged with the most extravagant going to the bride. The dowry would be an insurance policy to take care of the bride. The groom takes a pitcher of wine to pour into a cup passing it to his bride. This presentation of the cup to the bride results in her being able to accept or reject the wedding. They highlight the idea that contrary to all other customs in the Middle East, in a Galilean wedding, the bride possessed the final authority to accept or reject the offer of the groom.
Once the bride accepts, then the groom also takes the cup, drinking from it, solidifying the new covenant. Then the bridegroom says, “You are now consecrated to me by the laws of Moses and I will not drink of this cup again until I drink it new with you in my father’s house.” The documentary really didn’t focus on Christ and his first miracle at all, but only on what they believe occurred at a typical Galilean wedding between bride and groom. From here we fast forward from the wedding at Cana, all the way to the last supper. Jesus offered the cup of wine to His disciples to signify a new covenant with them. After the disciples willingly drank from the cup, Jesus said something similar to what they would have heard at a Galilean wedding. “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” They point to the significance of the blood of Christ which is poured out for the New Covenant.
J. D. Farag begins to describe his Arab culture whereby when you eat and drink, you eat from the same bread and drink from the same cup as those around you. This signifies that “what is in you is in me”; this is why it is called comm-union, communion. This was a seal of betrothal in an ancient Galilean wedding. When Jesus said this statement at the last supper, His disciples only heard one thing, “wedding”. They point to the first miracle of Christ being at a wedding.
They shift back to the wedding at Cana, and now the betrothal ceremony is finished, but this leads into a year-long preparation that goes into making the way for the wedding feast. Though man and wife are technically one under the new covenant, they must live apart until the day of their wedding feast. Everything the man does looks forward to being reunited with his bride including making preparations within his father’s house. This evidence (which they haven’t really revealed by way of examining documents and such, just them talking) gives further revelation concerning Christ’s first coming. Then they quote John 14 (but they don’t give the reference) where Jesus states, “I go away to prepare a place for you.” They explain that this means that Jesus will come back for them so that where He is, they may be also. All of this, they assert, was Jesus speaking to them as a bridegroom speaks to a bride, and they assert that they knew this because they knew the culture of the day. J. D. Farag states, “You cannot separate the culture from the gospels. If you take the culture out of the gospels, you virtually gut out the entire meaning of it.”
The narration explains that this is talking about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is coming back for His church via the rapture, and if we don’t believe this, we have the wrong Jesus. Jesus has to come back. Just a note here, when they are quoting the scriptures, they are not giving scripture references or complete context and are frequently skipping around. It’s not like they say, “In John 14, we read,”, it’s more like, “Jesus said He would come back for them and we have to believe this.” For instance, the narrator states, “And this is further reinforced by Christ Himself when He tells His disciples that when this time comes, there will be those living on the earth that will not taste death.” This is so indicative of the entire presentation that I cannot let this slip by without a comment. Here they are quoting from John 14, but insert the phrase “they will not taste death” which doesn’t appear there. They may be borrowing language from just before the transfiguration (Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27), or perhaps John 8:51. The concept of not tasting of death is also found in I Corinthians 15:51 and I Thessalonians 4:15. The point is that these may be taken out of context and not examined within their respective contexts. We jump from here to there, but first going back to first century culture to lay our foundation rather than the word of God. Also, they add the words “for you” after “I will come again”, which are not in John 14:3. There is this pretrib idea that Jesus comes back for the church before the 7 year period, and then comes back with the church at the end of the 7 year period. There is no scripture where Jesus says, “I will come back for you,” but here they are subtly asserting that but not giving you the scripture reference to fact check it for yourself. Note: I believe that there are those who will not taste death at the time of Christ’s coming. That’s not the point I’m making. The point is that each passage is not being examined independently. They are putting different scriptures together and saying, Jesus said such and such, when that wasn’t what He said in that context.
Now we are in this in between time where the groom has gone and the bride is waiting for the groom to return. The bride is staying busy by making the dress, preparing items, etc. Many times, these preparations took months to complete. The bride also remained vigilant and pure, no matter how long it took. The bride was not to sit and wait, but to occupy until he came. Now we have this new archaeological evidence that “is sending shockwaves” through our understanding of the coming of Christ. No one knew the day or the hour that he would come back, not even the bride. Only the father of the groom knew the day, the hour, the time that his son would return for his bride. Jay McConnell, Middle East anthropologist, states that in all the other weddings of the Middle East, the day and the hour of the wedding would be known. It would be a one-year interval, and then the wedding would take place. Galilean weddings, however, were different. Only the father of the groom knew the time of the wedding. He states that the groom would finish the room for his bride, go to his father and say, “I want my bride,” to which the father would respond, “I’ll tell you when.” As of this point in the documentary (35 minutes in), we haven’t seen any documentation that this ever occurred, only this guy telling us the way it happened. They show a little clip of people excavating in the earth, but there is no one showing a scroll or any text that these events were recorded somewhere. It’s this great discovery, but there is no presentation of the discovery, only someone telling us about what they believe the Galilean culture consisted of. Note: I’m not saying it isn’t true, I’m just reviewing the film.
Anyway, back to the narration. The father would announce, son, go get your bride. The father would be the one who would determine the day and the hour. They continue with the same pattern of referencing scriptures without quoting them. They say this goes back to several places in the Bible where Jesus says that no one knows the day or the hour except the Father, without giving any scriptural references. They also add on to these passages by saying that Jesus was saying, “No one knows when I’m going to come back for My bride.” This is immediately followed by a presentation of the question by the disciples. I’ll type this word for word here so you can see the cut and paste type of exegesis that is going on whereby they connect Matthew 24:3 and 24:36 without the intervening verses. “You see, during Jesus’s first coming, when His disciples asked when He would return at the end of days, He also told them – But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Then one of the commentators states, “Jesus Himself, I believe, demonstrated the genuine Galilean tradition by saying that not even the son knows the day and the hour.” So you see, they present the question of the disciples from Matthew 24:3, they skip over the words of Christ in Matthew 24:4-31 where Jesus explains the time frame for His coming, and then they focus on an addendum of Christ in Matthew 24:36. They take out the clear progression of abomination of desolation, then great tribulation, then the coming of Christ and gathering of the elect, and substitute Galilean culture. I just watched a video of Jan Markell and J. D. Farag which they state that Matthew 24 is not for the church but for Israel because of the Sabbath commands. So why are they not tossing out Matthew 24:3 & 36?
Now after saying no one knows the day or the hour, Jesus tells us that we could know the approaching season. So here we have a new section, a description of Jesus in heaven anticipating His coming to get His bride. The bride is also waiting for her groom to come. There is the mixture of referencing the gospels and also first century Galilean customs. “This brings us to a topic that’s fiercely debated today.” Because the message of Jesus in the context of Galilean culture has faded into history, this has sparked heated debate and growing misconceptions. The church has suffered because there are those who want to set dates. J. D. Farag states that these date setters have irreversibly damaged Bible prophecy, which is being systematically erased from Christianity all over the world. They encourage people not to be obsessed with the date, but being prepared for the second coming (rapture). J. D. Farag states that pastors are ignorant concerning Bible prophecy and fearful that prophecy will be controversial. This is marginalizing Bible prophecy.
But wait! It’s worse than you believe. Now we are back with Scott McConnell of Lifeway Research. Their study shows that out of 450 sermons that only 2% were from texts that were prophetic books of the Bible. Since one third of scripture is about prophetic events, this means that churches are intentionally marginalizing the subject. Christians today are dismissive of the Lord’s return, equating this with Biblical illiteracy. Since the rapture is a fundamental belief of the Bible, this is serious. You cannot have the whole counsel of God without having the prophetic word of God. If you take the return of Jesus Christ out of the gospel, you’ve left the gospel out. The reason for prophetic scriptures is to prove that the God of the Bible is the One true God. Interjection: Funny that I believe all of this, but if I bring up my point of view, they would say I’m being divisive and driving people away from Jesus Christ. This is all because I believe that Jesus will come and gather His elect after the great tribulation but before the wrath of God as contained in the Day of the LORD at a day and hour that no man knows. Instead of skipping over Matthew 24:4-31, I take that as the answer of Jesus to the disciples and the church. I just watched a video of Jan Markell stating that rapture views that disagree with hers are Satanic. With a statement like this you have to ask, who is causing division over the timing of the rapture?
Now we transition into the falling away. Because people are ignorant of the prophetic scriptures, this leads into the falling away of those that believe. Because people today do not believe in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, this is a part of the end-times apostasy, the fall from truth into apostasy. Here we have a clear presentation of the gospel that only Jesus Christ is the way to forgiveness for sins and to eternal life. Lifeway Research shows that many people do not believe that the Bible is the complete word of God.
Since the return of Christ is synonymous with the end of the world as we know it, this explains why we are seeing the trends in our culture. The Bible foretold that this would happen. J. D. Farag states, “I know you have a little strength. This describes this church in the last days prior to the return of Jesus Christ as just hanging on. There are a remnant of believers today that are hanging on to that hope.” Jack Hibbs states that we have a Westernized version of Christianity which is failing. He references II Peter 3 without quoting it that people are going to question and doubt the coming of the Lord Jesus, even mocking it. J. D. Farag states that “It’s going to get exponentially worse.” I’m assuming he means the ignorance of the Lord’s return and people doubting that it will ever happen, which Jan Markell states this is a part of the apostasy. Again, they are not giving any scripture references for what they are saying. Prewrathers understand why. If they turned to II Thessalonians 2:1-4 which is one of the end times apostasy passages, they would have to explain why the text states that this apostasy will occur before the coming of Christ, our gathering together unto Him, and Day of the LORD. Since that is their position in the video, what’s the problem? The contradiction comes with seeing that part of the apostasy that the scriptures describe in that text is the revealing of the man of sin in the temple. Pretribulationalists will tell you the rapture occurs before that, not after. Oops. Read that text before going any further.
At this point, we come back to the first century believer writing on papyrus. Here is what is narrated as he writes, “Considering these trends, it’s not surprising that this is precisely why the scriptures famously warned that in the last days, Jesus will return as a thief in the night into a world that is unbelieving and unprepared.” They state that Jesus warned His disciples to be prepared for His return. Now we are picking up at I Thessalonians 5, but they don’t tell us that. They tell us that there is no need for me (Paul although they don’t say his name so some might assume it’s Jesus based on the previous context) to tell you because you perfectly know that the day of the LORD will come as a thief in the night, but not as a thief in the night to you (meaning believers), because if you’re ready, you’re ready. Now catch this, they state “and we can only be surprised and we can only suffer from it if we’re not ready.” So you see, they quote part of the passage in I Thessalonians 5, but then add on something that is not even in the text. This is why, I believe, that they do not give the scripture references when they quote, “Jesus said…”
Interjection: For those unfamiliar with the rapture debate, pretribulationalists want to equate the entire seven year period known as Daniel’s 70th week as the Day of the LORD and wrath of God. They state that it is entirely tribulation and the wrath of God, and then state that if God doesn’t rapture the church before any of this, that it is like God allowing His bride to suffer. Note that added phrase “we can only suffer from it if we’re not ready.” Which suffering are we talking about though?
Narration opens this next section (55 minutes in) with, “Jesus returning as a thief in the night to those unprepared in the last days appears self-explanatory. And for years, theologians interpreted the meaning at face value. But you see, in ancient Galilee, we know that only the father of the groom knew the day and the hour that the wedding would take place. But what researchers have now discovered is that the hour would be in the middle of the night.” J. D. Farag is back with telling us that in that day, they would have understood exactly what Jesus was talking about. He said, like a thief in the night, because the wedding feast would be in the night which is why they would have to have oil in their lamps. To be dressed and ready for the bridegroom would mean that you would not be overtaken like a thief in the night. This Galilean tradition of the groom coming for the bride in the middle of the night is what Jesus knew and was trying to convey to His disciples. Again, they are quoting scripture from multiple places without referencing. The scriptures being quoted are from I Thessalonians 5, Matthew 25:1-13, Luke 12:31-40, etc. without examining the context of each passage. They tell us to look for the signs that Jesus gave to the disciples in order to be ready.
Interjection: What they are doing is taking one illustration, like a thief in the night, and saying it’s really a wedding feast in the night, no thief at all. Based on Matthew 25:1-13, a wedding feast in the night could very well have been the way they celebrated. The issue is that they are stripping I Thessalonians 5:1-11 of its major metaphor, like a thief in the night. This is a passage about the Day of the LORD which has certain other passages which should be correlated, such as Joel 2:31, Zephaniah 1:14-15, II Thessalonians 2:1-4. Studying these passages will reveal that the Day of the LORD does not begin until after the cosmic signs, see Joel 2:31, Matthew 24:29-31, and especially Revelation 6:12-17 where it states that this is the beginning of the wrath of the Lamb.
At this point, without giving the reference, they begin examining Matthew 25:1-13. Only those with faith in Christ will be prepared. According to Jan Markell, the remnant who is prepared for the return of Jesus Christ are watching and waiting, looking at headlines and current events, but that remnant is getting smaller. Interjection: Not sure what scripture passage encourages us to look at news headlines and such, but it can’t hurt.
There has been this portrayal of what they believe the wedding in Cana looked like. It has been referenced throughout the video. Now they return to this imagery with actors portraying the event, and pretty well I might add. To them, the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, was where they exchanged vows, but then separated to wait for the time when the groom would return for his bride. The year or so has elapsed and now the time has come. The father makes the announcement for the son to go get his bride. The son leaps to his feet, grabs a shofar, a ram’s trumpet, and wakes up the entire village, including the bride and her family. They talk about what would occur as the announcement of “The Bridegroom Cometh!” prompts the bride to wake up, trim her lamp, and execute her preparedness. As the groom approaches, the guests would be assembled, but only those that were prepared could quickly rise and join them. The bride is dressed in white and after a year of waiting, they are finally together again, reunited as one forever. The bride is carried by a litter back to the father’s house. The ancient Galileans refer to this as “flying the bride to the father’s house”. Jack Hibbs states, “She is lifted up off the ground. She’s escorted with him back to that place of preparation…. She’s borne aloft. She’s taken away with him.” The narration points out the parallels between this and the rapture. Doesn’t this sound like Jesus lifting His bride off the ground to be with Him in the air? Absolutely, in their minds. Jesus made it clear that this is what He was referring to when He spoke of His coming. Now quoting again, “Those that are caught up to be with the returning Messiah will partake in what the Bible refers to as the marriage supper of the Lamb, the Lamb being a clear reference to Christ Himself as the sacrificial Lamb crucified on the cross. In fact, the Apostle John references this wedding feast when believers are reunited with Christ as written in the book of Revelation.” (I believe this is the first time a book of the Bible has been given, maybe I’m wrong.) “To those in the final generation, he writes – Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Again, they point back to the Galilean wedding to state that this is the pattern for Christ’s return.
Many questions about the importance of this event of the uniting of Christ with His bride are given and answered. Then the narration mentions that one of the things that will occur is saving His bride from the wrath to come in the last days. We are now at the 1 hour 9 minute mark with 14 minutes remaining with the title of the film being Before the Wrath. Many will choose not to join in the wedding feast, and these will be left behind. The Galilean wedding feast analogy continues with the doors being shut and no one enters in or leaves for 7 days and 7 nights. In ancient Galilee, if you were locked out, there was no getting in.
Narration: “And just as with an ancient Galilean wedding, Bible prophecy warns that those who missed the return of Christ, are destined to partake in the wrath of God, that will be poured out upon a rejecting world.” Jack Hibbs again, “And the righteous will be removed from the earth, because the Lord says in Isaiah 26, I will put them in their place, I will shut the doors behind them in these inner chambers while I pour out my indignation, wrath, upon all those who dwell on the earth.” Jan Markell continues, “The fact that the church escapes God’s wrath is so important. The church does not escape man’s wrath, and we see that going on – terrible persecution going on in various parts of the world. But the church biblically, scripturally, God says that He’s going to spare us from the wrath to come.” Jay McConnell, our anthropologist friend picks up, “When you look at the whole picture, the Galileans are really the key to understanding the why and what of the rapture. Jesus used this illustration that they knew so intimately over and over and over again – that you have a bride who is loved by a bridegroom, who is betrothed to this bridegroom. And the bridegroom is going to make a covenant with her, and then he’s going to go away. And eventually when, they don’t know, he’s going to come back to take her to be with him where he is.”
Interjection: This is a very interesting way for a group of pretribulationalists to close their video. Prewrathers have been trying to get this message across, that the wrath of God and the wrath of man are two different things. Our title (prewrath) has brought to the forefront within the past 10 years the idea that we will not be here for the wrath of God, but there is no scriptural exemption from tribulation, which is the wrath of man. II Thessalonians 1:4-8 gives one of the reasons for Christ’s return, which is to repay those who are putting the church through tribulation with God’s vengeance. The presenters have stated multiple times that the reasons for the return of Christ are so important, but they are selective with the reasons that they give.
There is a closing encouragement for pastors to teach their congregations what the scriptures teach, because they have more impact with their congregations than others. Those with media influence need to speak out. Each of us needs to share this message with others. We must be prepared to tell others why Jesus is coming back. In closing (7 minutes to go including 5 minutes of credits), before the day of wrath, before the feast begins, before the rapture, before the thief comes in the night, when you are offered His cup, will you accept it?
There are many generalizations in the video without digging into the details. Really this video is aimed at people who don’t know a whole lot about the second coming of Christ. There is no point in the video where they demonstrate that Christ returns before the tribulation, or before Daniel’s 70th week. It is a very superficial presentation as a whole. It really could be a good video with good analogies, but for someone who knows the scripture, I wouldn’t bother. Perhaps something good will come out of someone watching it. Maybe someone will watch it and want to read the Bible for themselves. They will read the scriptures and realize that the video is right. Jesus is coming back. He will save us from the wrath to come. But they will also see that the church will go through the great tribulation. There will be a man of sin, mark of the beast, and great deception. You can’t say that part of Matthew 24 is for the church and the other part that we don’t like is for Israel only.
I really like the wedding and wedding feast analogy that they portray. If that is the way that it happened in Galilean culture, it is a very accurate representation of the coming of Christ. Christ says, I will come again (from heaven to earth) and receive you unto Myself. The bride flies to be with the groom, caught up into the air. There is no reason that Mark 13:26-27 cannot be describing the rapture of the church. Revelation 7:9-17 is the raptured church before the throne of God just after the event of Isaiah 26:19-21. I was surprised to hear Jack Hibbs teach this because the entire context of Isaiah 26:16-18 is the great tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble, see also Isaiah 24:19-23, Isaiah 25:8 with I Corinthians 15:51-54 and Revelation 7:17. Revelation 14:14-16 is the therismos harvest of Matthew 13:30, 39, 43.
In closing, my closing of my post, I would like to encourage dialogue about why it is okay for Jan Markell to make a video and talk about her view of the rapture, but if I talk about my view of the rapture, that is causing division. What about my view makes it Satanic? I agree with her that there is a difference between the wrath of God and the wrath of man. It seems to me that titling the video “Before the Wrath” and then not clearly defining when that wrath begins in the scriptures is sloppy exegesis.
That’s the video and that’s my review.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman