Pre-Wrath has a problem

I believe the scriptures clearly teach a PreWrath Rapture.  Christ returns, raptures the church, then the wrath of God is poured out.  This coming and rapture cuts the great tribulation short, bringing the persecution of Christians to an end.  This basic teaching has been taught in some form or another for quite some time.  Two men collaborated and gave this idea a name.  Marvin Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen are considered the founders of the PreWrath position, even though others taught these ideas before they began writing from within this label.  The position worked.  It distinguished itself from Post-trib which sometimes waffled on the issue of whether the church would suffer the eschatological wrath of God.  It also nailed down the timing of the rapture to the gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:31 and the sixth seal in Revelation 6, but excluded a seventh trumpet rapture.

As clear as these issues are, there is one other issue that Pre-Wrath has brought with it that is creating a problem.  In an attempt to provide a chronological framework for Revelation, Rosenthal and Van Kampen have created a contradiction of sorts.  In studying the Post-Trib positions, it was standard to overlap the seals, trumpets, and bowls in some way or another.  Most Post-tribbers would affirm that the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl all bring Daniel’s 70th week to a close.  However, in studying from a Pre-Wrath perspective, it becomes obvious that the seventh seal introduces the Day of the LORD which is contained in the seven trumpets.  So there must be continuity between the progression of the seven seals into the seven trumpets.  Instead of overlapping chronologies such as these:

Seal 1    >     Seal 2   >    Seal 3    >   Seal 4    >   Seal 5   >    Seal 6   >    Seal 7

occurring at the same time as…

Trump 1 > Trump 2 > Trump 3 > Trump 4 > Trump 5 > Trump 6 > Trump 7

occurring at the same time as…

Bowl 1    >    Bowl 2    >   Bowl 3  >   Bowl 4   >   Bowl 5   >  Bowl 6  >   Bowl 7

Pre-Wrath introduced this sequence:

S1 > S2 > S3 > S4 > S5 > S6 > S7 > T1 > T2 > T3 > T4 > T5 > T6 > T7 > B1 > B2 > B3 > B4 > B5 > B6 > B7

This solved a huge problem, namely that the seventh seal introduces the trumpets which contain God’s wrath and therefore the seals and trumpets cannot overlap.  Now PreWrath takes the bowls and places them following the trumpets.  This means that the bowls must occur after Daniel’s 70th week is completely over since the seventh trumpet brings Daniel’s 70th week to a close.  At first glance, this may seem like a good move, PreWrath takes the 30 days which follow Daniel’s 70th week mentioned in Daniel 12:11 and makes the connection that this is when the bowls must occur.  But placing the bowls in this sequence creates two distinct problems.

The first problem is a direct contradiction with Revelation 13:5.  In Revelation 12, there is no continuity with Revelation 11.  The seventh trumpet is blown, the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of Christ, and we reach the end of Daniel’s 70th week.  Then begins chapter 12 which takes us back to the beginning.  Chapters 12-16 all describe the war of Satan against the church, specifically revealing the nature of the beast through whom he will work.  As John sees the beast rise from the sea, it is declared that the beast is given authority to continue for 42 months, meaning the last half of Daniel’s 70th week.  The narrative continues describing the beast, his rule, the fate of his followers, and his ultimate destruction.  The logical view would lead one to believe that this all occurs within 42 months.  But if the bowls are located outside of that 42 months, then the beast continues for longer than 42 months.  During the pouring out of the bowls, notice how the beast still has a throne, a kingdom, followers, the ability to supernaturally deceive, and the ability to wage war, see Revelation 16.  So it would seem like the best view would be to place the bowls within the 42 months since the beast’s authority is pictured during the bowls.  Moving the bowls outside of this 42 month period contradicts Revelation 13:5.

The second problem is one that PreWrath has used to prove that the trumpets chronologically follow the seals.  The continuity of the story has elements that unfold during the seals and reach their conclusion during the trumpets.  One example is the sealing of the 144,000.  Before the Day of the LORD can be unleashed, the angels hold back the wind, then the 144,000 are sealed for protection.  During the trumpets, those which have been sealed are protected from God’s wrath.  Another example is the cry for vengeance at the fifth seal.  This cry for vengeance is forestalled, then when the angel with the censer brings the prayers of the saints before the LORD, then vengeance is accomplished through the trumpets.  Another example is the prohibition of the harm of earth, sea, and trees until after the 144,000 are sealed.  Once the 144,000 are sealed, the first four trumpets contain references to the earth, sea, and trees being harmed.  There is a definite story-like continuity from the seals to the trumpets.

It is this type of reasoning that would lead us to see Revelation 12-16 as one continuous thought flow with no break.  Satan begins to persecute the church.  When he can’t get at the woman, most likely a supernaturally protected Israelite remnant, he begins to utilize the beast from the sea.  The beast declares war on the saints in Revelation 13.  In Revelation 14 the fate of the beast followers is declared.  In Revelation 15 those who gain victory over the beast are pictured in heaven.  In Revelation 16 the beast has the wrath of God poured out on him and his kingdom.  Can you see the direct continuity here?  Revelation 12-16 cannot be divided as they explain one chronological sequence.  PreWrath uses this logic to prove that the seven seals occur, then the seven trumpets occur.  Now let’s apply the same logic.  Revelation 12-15 occurs, then the seven bowls occur.  There should be no attempt to insert anything into Revelation 12-16, but that is what PreWrath does.

PreWrath tries to link the seventh trumpet and the third woe with the seven bowls.  The argumentation that PreWrath authors attempt to use is either vague, confusing, or just not there.  Believe me, I have read all this stuff.  I point to Van Kampen first.  He assumes the bowls are located in the 30 days that follow Daniel’s 70th week, but he provides no scriptural basis for this assumption, and he is far less than certain that this is even the case.  Here is his quote from The Sign, page 352.  “Although the exact time and duration of the bowl judgments is not specified, all seven, along with the battle of Armageddon, must transpire within a timeframe that is less than four weeks in total.”  This is his proof en toto.  Rosenthal does a little better since he provides an excellent case that the trumpets must follow the seals in sequence.  But then when addressing the issue of the chronology of the bowls, he simply has none.  His case is basically that since the seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets, therefore the seventh trumpet introduces the seven bowls.  While he spends considerable time in his Revelation commentary proving pretty much beyond a shadow of a doubt that the seventh seal leads into the Day of the LORD and the trumpets, he spends absolutely no time examining how the seventh trumpet leads into the seven bowls.  In Rosenthal’s presentation, because the bowls are described after the trumpets, this means they are chronologically after the trumpets and therefore after Daniel’s 70th week is over since the seventh trumpet brings Daniel’s 70th week to a close.  When interacting with a view similar to mine in Zion’s Fire Volume 21 Issue 1 (Jan/Feb 2010), he makes this comment.  “Because there is similarity between some of the trumpets and bowls, many commentators suggest that they overlap and run concurrently.  These same commentators tend to play down the significant differences between the trumpets and bowls.  The unfortunate result is that they make a hodgepodge out of the chronology of the Book of Revelation.”  Rosenthal simply states that any alternate chronology is hodgepodge without proving his case.  He spends no more time on this issue.  It was pointed out to me that Charles Cooper has written an article which proves this issue, and I will deal with this in a separate post.

For now, let me suggest that PreWrath is absolutely correct, but this peripheral issue which is not essential to the PreWrath position is incorrect.  Placing the bowls outside of the 42 months contradicts Revelation 13:5 and interrupts the story-like chronology of Revelation 12-16.  There is no hodgepodge to a chronology that has the bowls occurring within the same timeframe as the trumpets.  Both are describing events that bring God’s wrath during the Day of the LORD.  Both the seventh trumpet and the seventh bowl bring to an end the governmental systems of this world.  Both lead into the kingdom come.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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19 Responses to Pre-Wrath has a problem

  1. P2ALM says:

    enjoyed your article.

    i agree that pre-Wrath is correct. I read Van Kampen’s book but it was a long time ago and i honestly don’t remember a thing about it. I came to the pre-wrath conclusion out of my own

    i would define pre-wrath as God’s Church not suffering His wrath during the Tribulation.
    whether Van Kampen et al have the correct timing for everything is, to me, another matter.

    i’m doing a study of this right now on my blog and will get to these things in the coming
    weeks. if you don’t mind, i’ll reserve a detailed comment about this particular thing until i post my paper that deals directly with this issue. i won’t be ready to post it for a few weeks though. i can comment back here when i do.

  2. D. Comer says:

    This troubled me too until I stumbled across 1 Corinthians 15:24b and 25. It says He must reign until He has destroyed the competition. If someone is reigning but still has enemies for a time and is in the process of destroying them you are describing a transition. Revelation 11:15 tells us that at the last trumpet the angels announce the commencement of the reign of Christ. The vials or bowls then, are describing a process whereby the last resistance is wiped out. Christ is reigning and putting down His enemies. This introduces two possible ways in which your problem may be solved. Either the transition is part of the 42 months contained in the last half of Daniel’s week, in which case the transition is counted as part of antichrists reign, or the transition comes after the seventieth week and is counted as part of the reign of Christ.

    • Thanks for the comment and I see your point. I would say that Revelation 11:18 points to “the nations were angry and Your wrath has come”, meaning He has destroyed the nations that were angry at the time of the transition of the kingdom. The idea of Christ reigning while He still has enemies in I Corinthians 15 points more toward Christ reigning during the millennium while the enemy of death is still not completely defeated, see I Corinthians 15:26-27 as well as the portion that you quoted. So ultimately I agree with you that the transition is a part of the 42 month reign of antichrist. However, I see it more as – Christ comes before the 42 month reign of antichrist is complete, pours out His wrath during a transitional period (trumpets and bowls) then begins His reign after the 42 months is over and after the antichrist is destroyed. Thanks again. Sometimes I wonder if people read these older articles.

      Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

      -The Orange Mailman

  3. mardabo says:

    Hi, With respect, I have always believed that 2 Thess 1:3-9 is describing the second coming as seen in Rev 19. “to you who are troubled, rest with us ‘when’ Jesus is revealed from heaven, in flaming fire to destroy the wicked”.

    In 2 Thess 2, the man of sin is destroyed by the ‘brightness’ (flaming fire) of His coming.

    I read The Sign and I wasn’t convinced of the pre-wrath position. When we see the cosmic signs of Matt. 24, Acts 2, Rev. 6 the tribulation is ended by Jesus’ coming to rapture/resurrect the saints. One second later He pronounces judgment on the beast, and the false prophet and they are thrown into the lake of fire. And then wicked humanity is burnt to a crisp by His Shekina Glory as seen in Zech 14.

    The instant that Jesus appears from heaven, which is the last day of the age and the first day of the Millennium, His reign has started. Then begins the 75 days of restoration.

    Thanks and God bless you.

    • Thanks for the comments. The battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19:19-21 is misunderstood. It’s not that Jesus has just returned and slaughters everybody instantly. Jesus has been back for some time, long enough for the beast to gather together against Him, see Revelation 19:19. This was foretold that the Messiah would begin His reign and then the nations would gather in response to that reign, see Psalm 2:6-12 and Psalm 110:2.

      The man of sin is certainly destroyed by the brightness of His coming, I agree with that. But Revelation unfolds that it will be longer than just “one second later”. Notice the sequence of Revelation 14-16. The Son of Man comes on the clouds and raptures the church, see Revelation 14:14-16. Then the remainder is thrown into the great winepress of God’s wrath, see Revelation 14:17-20. Then during Revelation 16 there is the bowl sequence with the wrath of God being poured out upon the beast and its kingdom in 7 phases. So Christ comes and destroys the beast with the brightness of His coming, but it is not instantaneous. It is progressive, allowing those within the kingdom to repent. Then ultimately the armies are deceived into gathering together against the Christ who has returned, see events of the 6th bowl.

      I agree that when the cosmic signs of Revelation 6:12-14 occur that the great tribulation has ended. However, there will be an extended period of time following that called the Day of the LORD whereby God will pour out His wrath upon the earth. This wrath is demonstrated in the trumpet and bowl sequence. Thanks again.

      Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

      -The Orange Mailman

  4. Paul says:

    Hi Darrin, have you studied Christ’s fulfillment of the Spring and Fall Feasts as part of your Eschatology?

    • Yes I have. I’m disappointed at many who try to predict the date of the rapture or coming of Christ based on the blowing of trumpets. I believe the fall feasts will be fulfilled at Christ’s second coming, but more in line with the beginning of His millennial reign. I don’t have a blog post about it, but I have interacted with people about my views.

      • Paul says:

        Hi Darrin, Thanks for the quick response. So I agree that the Fall Feasts specifically, Rosh Hashanah (Tishri 1), Yom Kippur (Tishri 10) and Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles (Tishri 15-22) will be the three fulfilled feasts at the end of the age. Seems to me though as far as “predicting” the “date” of Christ’s Second Coming (not the Rapture) all one might have to do is wait for the Antichrist to start sacrificing in the temple and then just add 1260 days. Am I wrong here? Seems like that would pretty much nail down the Second Coming date. I believe the day and hour reference in Mat 24:32 is Rapture specific. Is that correct in your view? If you agree, then you wouold I hope agree that at some point at least someone would be able to “predict” the date of Christ’s Second Coming. Thoughts?

  5. Hi Paul. Part of the Pre-Wrath position is that Christ returns sometime before the end of Daniel’s 70th week, thereby “cutting short” the days of the great tribulation, see Matthew 24:22. This day is completely unknown and indeed cannot be known even within the confines of the great tribulation. The remainder of the time left in Daniel’s 70th week will be occupied by the Day of the LORD and the wrath of God. There should be no counting days on the part of Christians, but the general time and season can be known. So when antichrist commits the abomination of desolation, there will be a timeframe less than 3 1/2 years when Christ comes, but no one knows exactly when that day will be.

  6. Paul says:

    Hi Darrin, How many days between the Abomination of Desolation and the Second Coming (NOT the Rapture which occurs at an unknown time). 1260 right?

    • No, the second coming and rapture occur together. Matthew 24:29-31 shows the coming of Christ (they see Him coming) and the gathering of the elect (another way to describe the rapture) as happening together. I Thessalonians 4:13-17 is a further description of this event. It happens at the coming where He descends and we are caught up to meet Him in the air. I Thessalonians 5:2 speaks of this as the Day of the LORD. II Thessalonians 2:1-2 talks about the Day of the LORD when “the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ” and “our gathering together unto Him” both occur at the same time. Of course the coming and gathering (rapture) do not occur until after the abomination of desolation, or revealing of the man of sin.

      The coming of Christ and rapture of the church occur together and no man knows the day or the hour. After Christ has returned, He pours out His wrath during the Day of the LORD in the form of seven trumpet judgments and seven bowl judgments.

      Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

      -The Orange Mailman

      • Paul says:

        Ok, I think I’m following you now. So, When the Rapture occurs which is also the Second Coming, Christ actually comes “in the clouds” and “stays”. He is then present for the duration of the Trumpets and Bowls which is at least 5 months. Is that a correct understanding?

      • Yes. And to get back to your original question, after the trumpets and bowls when Christ begins His millennial reign is when I believe the fall feasts will be fulfilled. My main correlation that I see is when Solomon dedicated the temple. It takes a lot of study, but if you look at the time frame when Solomon (who reigned during a time of peace) dedicated the temple, which was an eight day dedication, it happened during the day of atonement and was immediately followed by the feast of tabernacles. It’s a very interesting study. II Chronicles 7:9-10 is a good starting point. The first seven days was the dedication of the altar with the eighth day being the “new beginning” so to speak. The second seven days was the feast of tabernacles because he sent the people away on the 23rd day. I also did a study on the eight day process for the dedication of the altar, beginning in Exodus 29:37, Leviticus 8:33, 9:1. Then if you turn to Ezekiel 43:25-27 there is this future dedication and it will take 7 days, with the eighth day being the day of new beginning. Anyway, I’m rambling.

      • Paul says:

        Cool. Sounds like an interesting study for sure. So, on a kind of related note, in every view I have explored, there are these sort of “known” issues. Verses that just don’t quite seem to fit but have to be either ignored or loosely interpreted in order to “fit”. For instance you pointed out Rev 13:5 as not fitting well with the classical Prewrath view. I have studied eschatology for over 10 years with a fair amount of intensity and every view has “some” issue. Would you be willing to share those areas, if any, where you find it difficult to “fit” particular verses into your view? Just one example that pops into my mind when thinking about the perspective you presented, is Rev 14:3. The Lord is on Mt Zion with the 144,000, then they are before the throne with the four beasts and the elders. Why didn’t the elders come to earth with Christ at the Rapture? Why are the 144,000 up in Heaven (that seems to be where they are because of the harps, etc) after having been on earth during the Trumpets? Thanks much….

      • Hey Paul- I don’t have a whole lot of time right now. But Pre-Wrath does not view that as a problem because the view is that the 144,000 are here on the earth. I will give my reasonings when I get time, but this guy right here has some thoughts on the matter that I agree with.

  7. Ironically, you touch on another in house Pre-Wrath discussion. That is namely what to do with any type of chronology with Revelation 12-16. Pre-Wrathers are fairly united on the chronology of Revelation 6-11. The great tribulation with the antichrist in power during the seals, then the rapture at the sixth seal (the 144,000 are sealed then the rapture immediately after in Revelation 7), followed by the Day of the LORD wrath in the form of seven trumpet judgments.

    However, when we get to Revelation 12-16, there is much debate as to how this relates to Revelation 6-11. But all are fairly united that the vision of the 144,000 in Revelation 14:1-5 is a parallel description of the 144,000 in Revelation 7:1-8. They are here on earth to be preserved through the wrath of God.

    I myself believe it is a very similar chronology to Revelation 6-11. The antichrist’s great tribulation is described in Revelation 13 (with some background in Revelation 12). The 144,000 are sealed in Revelation 14:1-5. Christ has not yet come, but He is spiritually leading the 144,000. Then in Revelation 14:14-16, the Son of Man comes on the clouds just as He promised, see Revelation 1:7, Matthew 26:64, Acts 1:9-11. He raptures the church with the therismos harvest. Then there is a picture of God’s wrath to come. The church is pictured safely in heaven in Revelation 15:2. Then the wrath of God is poured out during the Day of the LORD wrath in the form of seven bowl judgments.

    But I wanted to give you some of my thoughts on the 144,000 as to why I believe they are on the earth and not in heaven. There are some things that could go either way. Spiritual Mount Zion or literal Mount Zion? I can see both sides of that. With the Lamb in heaven, or the Lamb here on earth guiding them? Inconclusive in my opinion. The first clear indication is that John seems to be receiving his vision from the point of view of being on earth. In verse 2, he hears a voice from heaven, as if he is here on earth listening to that voice from heaven. So as he is picturing the 144,000, it only makes sense that he sees them here on the earth as well. The music is going on in heaven, while the 144,000 which are redeemed out from the world in general, set apart for God, only they are able to learn that song. The 144,000 also hear the music and voices from heaven just as John does.

    The second reason is the connection to Psalm 96. The new song that is being sung in both passages has an end times application. Psalm 92-99 is one big Messianic Psalm which gives us a big picture of the Messiah coming to reign here on the earth. The new song that is being sung is that the LORD reigns among the Gentiles. It seems that creation and this remnant in Psalm 96 gets the privilege of proclaiming the LORD’s reign just before He comes in power and glory, see Psalm 97. We should see the same connection in Revelation 14:1-5. The 144,000 are sealed to be preserved through the Day of the LORD wrath. Just before that wrath, they begin singing a song that they heard from heaven which proclaims the LORD as reigning among the Gentiles. They are here on the earth testifying what is about to shortly come to pass.

    Anyway, I hope that helps shed a little light on Pre-Wrath discussions and my personal views.

    Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

    -The Orange Mailman

  8. Paul says:

    Hi Darrin, Why does the Classical Prewrath view require the Bowls to be outside of Daniel’s 70th Week? I see this in many of the books, charts, etc and you clearly point out above they need to be inside of the week in order to adhere to Rev 13:5. So why are they pushed until after the end of the week? Seems like there must be reason….

    • The best that I can come up with is how pre-wrath is to be distinguished from post-trib. If you’ve ever studied post-trib, chronology in Revelation is atrocious. They will agree with a sixth seal rapture, but they will also believe in a seventh trumpet rapture. They overlap them. Most post-tribbers I have read overlap seals, trumpets, and bowls. They place the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl as all occurring at the same time. So, naturally pre-wrath needs to distinguish itself from that point of view. So when Rosenthal and Van Kampen first published their writings, they came up with the chronology of seals, followed by trumpets, followed by bowls. It inadvertently created the issue of what to do with the bowls since the seventh trumpet clearly shows some type of conclusion to Daniel’s 70th week. So they put them in that 30 days which is mentioned in Daniel 12:11.

      So in some ways, especially with Revelation 6-11, it helps with seeing the overall chronological progressive flow of the narrative. But it creates the problem for the chronology of Revelation 12-16, which I hope I have adequately explained my view on that. Note that Dr. Alan Hultberg, who also writes from the Pre-Wrath perspective, agrees with me on this. His writings are found in the latest version of Three Views on the Rapture. I have also had some correspondence with him on this issue.

      I have debated about this to no end with the Pre-Wrath group. They believe that Revelation 12-14 represents some type of flashback. Then with Revelation 15, the narrative picks up where the seventh trumpet left off. To me, that fails to see the significance of the therismos harvest in Revelation 14:14-16 being the rapture. It also fails to note the parallel between the church appearing in heaven after the rapture in Revelation 7:9-17 and Revelation 15:2. But, what can you do? It seems to me that Pre-Wrath would benefit from seeing the Pre-Wrath rapture in the Revelation 12-16 chronology as well. Tribulation in Revelation 13, Rapture in Revelation 14, then Wrath in Revelation 16.

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