7 Pretrib Problems and the Prewrath Rapture (Full Movie)
Directed and Produced by Chris White
Alan Hultberg PhD
Alan Kurschner PhD
The following is a summary of a recent video which support the PreWrath Rapture position and exposes the problems with the Pre-Tribulational Rapture position. There are no straw men erected in this presentation. Pretrib scholars are quoted to show what the position actually maintains. Keep in mind this is only a summary which will not do the video justice. If ever you have a question about the content, please watch the video for yourself. The video is over 2 hours long and can be found at this link here:
I. The first problem is called the Precursor Problem. When does the wrath of God begin? When does the Day of the LORD begin? There are at least 4 events that will occur before the Day of the LORD. Pretrib believes that the rapture is imminent with no prophetic events occurring before the rapture of the church which they believe will happen in conjunction with the Day of the LORD.
1. Elijah will be sent before the Day of the LORD, Malachi 4:5.
2. A rebellion or apostacy will occur, II Thessalonians 2:2.
3. The man of lawlessness will be revealed, II Thessalonians 2:2-3.
4. The cosmic disturbances will be given as a sign before the Day of the LORD, Joel 2:31.
An examination of Matthew 24:29-31 shows that these cosmic disturbances occur after the great tribulation. The Day of the LORD is shown to be good for believers and bad for unbelievers. This is a good opening section to lay the foundation for the beginning of the Day of the LORD as occurring at the cosmic disturbances recorded in Joel 2:31, Matthew 24:29, and Revelation 6:12-14. This presents a problem for the pretrib position which claims that there are no scriptural signs which occur before the Day of the LORD. A common response by pretribbers presented throughout the video is that there must be 2 different Days of the LORD, one to match up with the above scripture, and one to match up with the idea of imminence.
II. The Olivet Discourse Problem. The rapture is described in Matthew 24:30-31. There are many signs that happen before the rapture which are recorded in Matthew 24:1-28. The abomination of desolation and the great tribulation must occur before the rapture. *Note, I have a minor disagreement with this in that Matthew 24:5-8 is not describing things that occur as signs that occur in relationship to the coming of Christ, but rather this section describes things that are NOT to be considered signs of Christ’s coming at all. They are ongoing events that will occur but are not to be associated as portents of the coming of Christ. In one sense it can be said that these are events that will occur before the coming of Christ, but the subject material that is being covered here is the imminence of the rapture. Specifically, Matthew 24:15-28 is describing events that will immediately precede the coming of Christ and rapture of the church.
There is an insistence among pretribbers that the Olivet Discourse does not concern the church at all. But let’s look at what is taught in the Olivet Discourse. The remainder of the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:32-25:46, deals with being watchful of the coming of Christ. This creates a contradiction for pretribbers who insist that the Olivet Discourse as a whole does not contain any reference to the rapture of the church. This is especially problematic for pretribbers who quote Matthew 24:36 in reference to the rapture. There is also the issue of “one being taken and one being left” in Matthew 24:40-41. They believe this must be a reference to being taken to judgment rather than the common sense interpretation that believers are taken to safety, such as Noah being rescued or Lot being rescued by angels. Plus, only the wise virgins are taken in Matthew 25:1-13, which the wise virgins represent believers, not unbelievers. The parable of the fig tree shows that the disciples could have known the signs for the general time of the coming of Christ. The phrase the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:37, 39 connects the latter parables of the Olivet Discourse with the coming (Parousia) mentioned in the opening questions by the disciples, Matthew 24:3.
There really is no way to separate the Olivet Discourse as being inapplicable to the church. It creates too many inconsistencies and bars pretribbers from being able to apply the latter portion to the church.
III. The 2nd Thessalonians Problem. Certain things have to happen before the coming of Christ, gathering of the church, and the coming of the Day of the LORD. They are the apostasy (rebellion) and the revealing of the man of lawlessness or antichrist. Paul’s answer to the question or misunderstanding of the Thessalonians shows that there are signs to occur before the coming of Christ and rapture of the church. If Paul believed in an any-moment rapture, he would have just stated that the Thessalonians were not in the midst of the Day of the LORD since the rapture has not occurred. These two things must happen first. Since the revealing of the man of sin, antichrist, occurs at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, we know that the rapture cannot occur until after the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, thereby undermining the belief in imminence.
Some pretribulationalists respond by teaching that the apostasia is the rapture. However, there is no evidence that this word can be translated that way. It also creates a nonsensical contradiction in the passage. If apostasia is translated as departure, it is not physical departure, but departing from the faith or some political or religious type of rebellion. If it is still insisted that apostasia is the rapture, it would be saying that the rapture cannot happen until the rapture. The plain sense of the passage is that our gathering together unto Him (Christ) occurs immediately before the Day of the LORD, which of course happens sometime in the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, after the apostasy, abomination of desolation, and revealing of the man of sin. This section also contains a challenge to note how many parallels exist between the Olivet Discourse and the passages in I and II Thessalonians which speak of the coming of the LORD Jesus Christ.
IV. The Revelation Problem. The seals are the result of antichrist’s working, not the wrath of God. Especially the fifth seal shows that this is describing martyrdom, not the wrath of God. But pretribbers must insist that the entire series of seven seals must be the wrath of God and the saints are simply not here. An examination of the seals, especially the fifth seal, shows that these believers are looking forward to the wrath of God on unbelievers, not believers experiencing the [eschatological] wrath of God.
An examination of the sixth seal shows a precursor to the Day of the LORD by way of cosmic disturbance. The wrath of God in the Day of the LORD has not yet occurred as of the sixth seal since it is a specific sign portending the Day of the LORD and His wrath. *Note, I have a disagreement with the way they present this portion with a parallel between the birth pains described by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:5-8 and the seals. Jesus was describing things that are not signs of His coming and the parallels are forced, not natural. But there is a true parallel with the sixth seal and the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:29-31. The cosmic signs are something of which the nations are in fear which is another noteworthy parallel.
There is a good point about the angels holding back harm from earth, sea, and trees until the servants of God can be sealed in Revelation 7:1-8. This is further evidence that the wrath of God is about to be poured out, not having been what has been occurring throughout the entire seal sequence. The multitude in Revelation 7:9-17 is describing the church coming out of the great tribulation. Again, the church will face the persecution of the antichrist. As with all the issues, the positions of pretribbers about these problems are discussed and refuted.
V. The Imminence Problem. This is a keystone for the pretrib position. Imminence is the idea that the event of the rapture to be sign-less, as in, no prophetic event will precede it. This “doctrine” cannot be found anywhere before 1830. Larry Crutchfield (a pretribulationalist) is quoted to show that what the early church fathers believed should be termed more along the lines of “imminent intratribulationism”. Basically, the church fathers believed that only after the revealing of the antichrist and the great tribulation was upon the church would the rapture be imminent.
The first set of scripture passages which are typically used to teach imminence are really “waiting” passages, whereby the church should be waiting for the coming of Christ. This does not teach that the coming of Christ would occur at any moment with no event interceding. But you can eagerly await all types of things that are not necessarily going to occur at any moment. II Peter 3:13 shows that we should be waiting for the new heavens and new earth, but pretribbers would admit that this event is not imminent.
Another set of scriptures which are used to teach imminence are called “be good because Jesus is returning”. The fear of being caught in the act of sinning because of the return of Jesus is taught as essential to the Christian faith. This seems to be a deficient view of discipleship. Instead, Christians should live godly lives in light of the fact that they have been given eternal life. This is based on Christ’s work instead of our own. The rapture is the moment that believers become immortal and therefore it is a picture (or the very picture) of eternal life. Christians do good works because eternal life is a sure thing. These verses are not any evidence of an imminent return of Christ or imminent rapture of the church.
Another category is that “Christians will not go through the wrath”. This of course does not equal imminence, but serves as proof of a prewrath rapture. Another set of scriptures trying (desperately) to prove imminence is “the rapture is a good thing”. In the minds of pretribbers, because the rapture is good, there can’t be anything bad that occurs before it. The fact that the majority of the disciples were martyred is completely overlooked. There still is not any proof contained in these set of verses that no prophesied events precede the rapture of the church. Another set of texts to attempt to prove imminence are “the nearness texts”. The meaning of near in these verses is relative because of the fact that these verses were written almost 2,000 years ago. James 5:7-9, instead of insisting on nearness, is really teaching patience in light of Christ’s coming. The video parallels this with Matthew 24:32-35 which contains the same language and insists on “all these things” (meaning signs of Christ’s coming) occurring before that. The definition of near cannot mean any-moment.
The final group of imminence proof texts are “the thief in the night prooftexts”. There are several instances where the return of Jesus is spoken of like a thief, I Thessalonians 5:2. This has become less popular among pretibbers because it can be traced back to the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:42-44. Remember before when pretribbers were asserting that this section is not for the church. If we take this to mean it is referring to the coming of Christ, then we have to admit that there is a certain watchfulness and preparedness that is expected of Christ’s followers because they are to look for the signs of His coming. This is also referring to unbelievers who will be unprepared and be caught like a thief, while believers who are prepared will not be surprised like a thief, see I Thessalonians 5:1-11 in context. If you tell someone to watch, there is something that they must be watching for.
VI. The Church and Israel Problem. The 70 weeks of Daniel concerns the nation of Israel. The first 69 weeks were in the past and the final 70th week will occur in the future. There is a current gap of time commonly referred to as the church age. There is this idea that God does not work with Israel and the church at the same time. However, God has worked with both in the past, and can do that in the future. The response in the video cites Jeremiah 31:31-34 which prophesied the new covenant for Israel; note that this was given at a time when the church did not exist. This prophecy applies to the church as the church participates in the new covenant. Pretribbers get around the existence of the church in Revelation (Daniel’s 70th week) by calling them tribulation saints. God has worked with both Israel and the church at the same time according to the following passages: Luke 19:43-44 (the judgment of AD70), Romans 10:19-11:10, Ezekiel 37:1-12, Revelation 7:1-8, Revelation 12:12-17. God is currently saving Gentiles and provoking Israel to jealousy at the same time, Romans 10:19-11:10 . God judged Israel in 70AD while working with the church. God is currently regathering Israel to their homeland. The previous verses show God working in the past while Revelation 12:14-17 shows the future of God working with Israel and the church at the same time during the great tribulation. Both groups are obviously on earth at the same time.
VII. The Early Church Problem. The writings of the early church pose a seriously problem for the pretrib rapture. The sequence taught by them showed that they believed that the church would encounter the antichrist and the great tribulation. A pretribulation scholar writes, “The early fathers largely held to a period of persecution that would be ongoing when the return of the Lord takes place and most would see the church suffering through some portion of the tribulation period.” Statements by the church fathers are examined one by one to see if they support the pretribulational rapture. A bit of a sleight of hand is occurring with pretribbers who try to make it look like church fathers believed in imminence since they acknowledge that the early church did not believe in a pretribulational rapture. Pseudo-Ephraim is mentioned and examined. In response to quotes supporting pre-conflagration theory, the video cites Thomas Ice, a pretribulationalist, to rebuke them. When examining the quotes in context, instead of proving that the church will be exempt from the great tribulation, they prove that the church will go through it.
In closing, if you are interested in how these positions interact with each other, please watch the video. The charts and visual illustrations make it easy to understand. Prewrath scholars appear giving interview type answers to common questions regarding the timing of the rapture according to a plain sense reading of scripture.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman