Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord
What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Return of Christ
Antichrist before the day of the Lord- that has a nice ring to it. But I didn’t come up with that phrase. That is the title for the new book written by Alan Kurschner. This book is written from a Pre-Wrath perspective and should be a welcome addition to the library of any prophecy student. Since the publication of The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marv Rosenthal and The Sign by Robert Van Kampen, many have taken pen in hand (or laptop on lap) in an attempt to add to the list of Pre-Wrath books. Some have been written by lay people and some by scholars. There has been some value in this wide variety of books, especially to demonstrate that the Pre-Wrath position comes not by studying complicated theological and eschatological positions, but by the plain reading of God’s Word. However, once you get this book into your library, it needs to be set side by side with those two pioneer works.
The date is timely considering that Rosenthal’s book was released in 1990 and Van Kampen’s in 1992. First, because while Rosenthal contributes to his bi-monthly publication Zion’s Fire, he has not released anything specifically on the pre-wrath rapture since then in book form. Van Kampen passed away 1999 so it remains to be seen which positions he would have taken on different issues and how he would have reacted to various criticisms of his positions. That leads to the second reason. Different critics have stepped up to try to disprove the pre-wrath rapture position, so a rebuttal of sorts is overdue. The release of Three Views on the Rapture by Dr. Alan Hultberg (who also represents pre-wrath in that book) was insightful, but the purpose of that book was to represent three rapture positions equally. So let me explain specifically why this book is worth your time and money.
In one sense, the title of his book says it all. One of the foundation points of pre-wrath is to distinguish between the great tribulation and the day of the Lord. If you want a simple synopsis of pre-wrath, just follow this outline: tribulation, then rapture, then wrath. It’s that simple. However, there is a little more to it than that. The great tribulation, coming of Christ, rapture of the church, and the day of the Lord’s wrath all occur in the last half of Daniel’s 70th week, or the last 3 ½ years at the end of the age. There is no way to calculate the timing of the Lord’s return and rapture of the church as they occur together at a day and hour that no man knows. The great tribulation is not the entire seven year period also known as Daniel’s 70th week. The day of the Lord is also not that entire seven year period. Many have equated these two terms and caused great confusion on the end times. In fact, the coming of Christ will stand directly in between these two time periods.
Part 1. The Antichrist’s Great Tribulation
Part 2. The Rapture of God’s People
Part 3. The Day of the Lord’s Wrath
The uniqueness of this book is found in its basic structure. Alan has written the book in three main sections which reflect the progression of the timing of the pre-wrath rapture. The first section is titled The Antichrist’s Great Tribulation. Herein is contained information on the antichrist, the great tribulation, the apostasy, satanic miracles, persecution of the church, martyrdom of saints, and everything which will occur right up until the coming of Christ. The second section is titled The Rapture of God’s People. Passages which refer to the events surrounding the second coming of Christ are explained focusing on the rapture of the church which happens at that time, especially noting the parallels between Matthew 24:29-31 and I Thessalonians 4:13-17. The third section is The Day of the Lord’s Wrath. This section defines the day of the Lord, especially from the perspective of the old testament prophets, as something that is initiated at the second coming of Christ and containing the eschatological wrath of God.
So, if you want to know what Alan thinks about a certain aspect of end times, just turn to that section. The first two sections are less than 50 pages each, while the third is just over 60, so this is not some super-long, laborious read. In fact, the entire book including all appendices, footnotes, and references is 238 pages. However, this overall arrangement can be a drawback as material is arranged by the above topics and not scriptural division. For instance, if you want to know his position on the Thessalonian epistles, the first part covers II Thessalonians 2 because that is where Paul discusses the revealing of the man of sin, otherwise known as the antichrist. The second section covers I Thessalonians 4 because this is where the coming of Christ is explained by Paul. The third section covers I Thessalonians 5 because the phrase “the day of the Lord” is found there, along with discussing some aspects of II Thessalonians 1. But the scripture index at the end resolves this for the one who wants to find every time he mentions a certain scripture passage.
While the book is simple enough for anyone to grasp, there is enough depth to keep the serious student of scripture engaged. You won’t find theological language that is over your head. It is written in every day terms, but getting into the meat of the scriptures. He takes time to interact with other positions, especially showing the weaknesses of the pre-trib position. Sometimes to save space, instead of getting off on a tangent, he cites a reference for those who want to study further. Yet he points out the original Greek in many cases which gives insight into our understanding of a passage. So while it’s not overly complicated, it is sound enough in a scholarly way to set beside any work of an opposing viewpoint.
Let me point out some of the strengths in each part. In part one, I appreciated the clear link between the antichrist and the great tribulation. This makes one of the foundation points for pre-wrath quite clear, namely that the tribulation is not God’s wrath. The great tribulation is persecution and martyrdom for the saints coming from the devil and the antichrist. I also was impressed with his view that the apostasy will be the eschatological professing church. I have leaned heavily toward the apostasy being Jewish in scope because of Rosenthal’s article on the subject. However, Alan’s points are well taken. Also, there is a very good lead-in to his next section by showing that the fifth seal anticipates vengeance for the martyrdom that is occurring during the great tribulation. That means God’s wrath is sure to come once Christ returns cutting short the great tribulation.
The second part illustrates what many other pre-wrath authors have demonstrated. The parallels between the sixth seal of Revelation 6:12-17 and the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:29-31 are highlighted in a way that shows these two passages are complementary to each other. But more than that, there are additional insights that I haven’t read anywhere else. For instance, after quoting Revelation 6:12 which states, “Hide us from the face of the one who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.”, Alan adds this insight, “The term for “face” is prosōpon, which can mean a literal face or someone’s personal presence. This “presence,” combined with the upheaval all around them, will cause them to try to flee from God.” This plainly shows that indeed Christ has “shown up” at the sixth seal since He is now personally present. He further states, “The ungodly will not interpret the sixth seal as naturally freakish. They will see it as portending divine retribution.” This serves to illustrate the point that while the great tribulation has ended with the opening of the sixth seal, the wrath of God is about to be poured out. As I mentioned above, he illustrates parallels between Matthew 24:29-31 and I Thessalonians 4:13-17 to show that they are both describing the same coming and rapture of the church. However, in addition to this, he also shows parallels between Daniel’s resurrection passage, see Daniel 12:1-3, and Isaiah’s resurrection passage, Isaiah 26:19-21. These are referenced in with I Thessalonians 4:13-17 to show one event from several different perspectives.
The final section finds its real strength in an examination of the old testament prophets and how they anticipated the day of the Lord. Alan examines passages in Joel, Isaiah, Obadiah, Zephaniah, and Amos in order to build a proper foundation for what is meant by the phrase “the day of the Lord”. After looking at these passages, he comes up with succinct phrases that characterize the whole, such as: ominous celestial signs, dreadful darkness, the Lord alone exalted, sinners punished, and fiery wrath. He also uses terminology to show “back-to-back rapture and wrath”, especially in light of Luke 17:22-35. Basically, the rapture happens, and then the day of the Lord wrath begins, meaning that specific day of the Lord wrath that those old testament prophets foretold. The church is exempt because they are safely in the presence of God while the wrath is being poured out upon the earth in the form of seven trumpet and seven bowl judgments.
In order to understand his entire reasoning, you will have to purchase the book, of course. There is much here that you could find in other pre-wrath books, but because of the unique structure of the three parts each corresponding with tribulation, rapture, then wrath, this book certainly has its own place. I don’t agree with every position he takes, but I don’t agree with Rosenthal and Van Kampen on every detail either. Those issues are minor in my opinion. I will not note them here since this is an opportunity to note where I agree with him, namely on the pre-wrath rapture of the church. I even picked up a new insight. On page 72 Alan notes how at the great commission and later just before Christ ascended in Acts 1:8 that Christ had appointed the church to be scattered throughout the farthest parts of the earth in order to preach the gospel. The end of the age in the Olivet Discourse should be the same end of the age in the great commission. So when Christ comes to “gather His elect” in Matthew 24:31, this should refer to the church that had been previously scattered to preach the gospel, as opposed to referring to the unbelieving nation of Israel. That connection between Acts 1:8 and Matthew 24:31 had not occurred to me before, but the two end of the age passages I had already seen as complementary. Perhaps Mark 13:27 is more applicable since it contains the phrase “from the uttermost part of the earth”.
Again, the name of the book is Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord by Alan Kurschner. It has the subtitle, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Return of Christ. I’m recommending it as a solid work.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman