Biblical Audio Commentary – Contrarian
The worse things get, the more I yearn for the return of Jesus in the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church. Yet, as I look around me it’s evident that secular society doesn’t look forward to this seminal event (obviously), and sadly, neither does most of the church.
The secular world has no interest in Jesus returning because that would mean for them that the jig is up. Having used this phrase, I checked with the Merriam-Webster online dictionary so as to provide a good definition. This is pretty accurate in the way I mean it:
“The jig is up” is an idiom used to indicate that a dishonest plan or activity has been discovered and will not be allowed to continue. It can also be used as an idiom which means the plot has been foiled, the deception has been seen through, the game is over.
Those who have no use for God in their lives enjoy their sin (at least for a while) and believe that no one sees. That’s an absolute fallacy as Proverbs 15:3 declares:
The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
In other words, they can run but they can’t hide. However, by thinking God is blind to their actions, and that they can do whatever they please, one thing is certain: in the willfulness of their hearts, they certainly don’t want Christ to return to call them to account.
The real issue and the point of this Commentary is to ask the question: Why does the majority of the church harbor such hostility toward the pre-Trib Rapture?
Yes, there are simply those many who have never sat under good, solid Bible teaching. Thus, they have no opinions one way or the other and don’t care about the Rapture and the greater issue of Bible prophecy, other than in a vague, disquieting way. If anything, they’re “pan-Trib” because it’ll all pan out in the end.
This is to be expected and a huge reason so much of the church falls away into apostasy in these end times just as 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (KJV) states:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition
“Falling away” in this verse is the Greek word apostasia, also meaning defection or revolt per Strong’s #646. The 1599 Geneva Bible translates the word as “departing” i.e. apparently to mean the departure from this earth, as in the Rapture:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a departing first, and that that man of sin be disclosed, even the son of perdition.
Maybe. However, it’s glaringly apparent to anyone watching that there is a significant departure from the faith these days, so perhaps both texts are correct. I certainly like the idea that the Geneva Bible puts forth. That makes our exit from the world before the Antichrist appears a very definite textual statement.
Where I simply scratch my head is with really intelligent people not grasping the pre-Trib Rapture concept; in fact, denying it and with many such folks, despising it. Despising? Absolutely. They read Scripture in such a way that believers must go through the Tribulation because Jesus said we’ll suffer tribulation. Please notice the capital and lower-case spellings I use. To reach this understanding, they declare that the word wrath used Biblically means judgment leading to hell, e.g. the wrath of God.
Does it? Wrath is Strong’s #3709, the Greek word orgé. It means: “anger, wrath, passion; punishment, vengeance.” Please note that the idea of judgment isn’t contained in this definition. The idea is that God’s orgé comes because of disobedience. As to tribulation, this is Strong’s #2347, the Greek word thlipsis. It is: “persecution, affliction, distress, tribulation.” The idea is one of internal pressure, something Jesus surely said we’d face, but is it the same as that which will come upon the whole world as Revelation 6-19 describes?
Wrath is the key. Why would Revelation 3:10 give the church of Philadelphia this encouragement?
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
Why would 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 say the following?
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Both verses speak of a people with deep saving faith. The believers in Philadelphia were beset on every side and had no power to resist other than by the Holy Spirit who dwelt within them. They kept on keeping on – as the saying goes – despite the crushing weight of all in the world coming against them. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jesus said there’s more coming: a terrible trial that will devour the entire earth. But, His reassurance to them was that they wouldn’t go through that time of testing and calamity. That church is representative of the believing remnant of today which is overwhelmed from all directions, yet continues in the promises of God – knowing He will make good on what He said and deliver us from this coming Tribulation that encompasses the entire world and consumes the unbelievers who reject the great salvation offered by Jesus Christ.
If wrath is affliction and distress, what is judgment? Strong’s #2920 – the Greek word krisis – is: “judging, judgment, decision, sentence; generally: divine judgment; accusation.” That’s a big difference; in God’s case, it’s a sentence of death.
But, the “smart” Christians don’t see this. I belong to a closed Facebook group called Divine Council Worldview. This group’s purpose is to primarily discuss the works of Dr. Michael Heiser, whose book The Unseen Realm absolutely changed my understanding and perspective of the Bible. Dr. Heiser died this year on February 20 at the age of 60 after a two-year battle against a very aggressive cancer. (You can guess my speculation as to how he got the cancer.). I was quite saddened by Heiser’s death, as were many who benefited from his extensive research and knowledge. It’s from this base that I personally write about the rebellious spiritual realm.
One thing Dr. Heiser did not like was eschatology (and where I differed from him). He inevitably studied Biblical texts in reference to the Old Testament, but found Bible prophecy too obscure to definitively believe in the Futurist perspective. He was very much a textualist and simply wouldn’t connect what’s happening in the world with the prophetic Words that I and so many in the pre-Trib community see as our Blessed Hope.
From what I’ve observed, the overwhelming majority of those who belong to the DCW group have taken the position of Dr. Heiser, if they didn’t already have it. It’s like they have this slavish, sycophantic position that biases and blinds them. This comment from the DCW page gives you a taste of what I’m saying:
I had a strange take-away from a House Group meeting a couple nights ago. I was actually disturbed by some of the conversation — not that the group was wrong based on their understanding of eschatology, but the fact that I sat there and struggled as they shared back and forth their anticipation of the rapture and what it was going to be like, who would be going, etc.
This group strongly believes in the pre-trib rapture; any hints I’ve given in the past have been ignored or not understood. But, to be honest, I felt like a little kid who knew all along there was no Santa but who dared not interrupt other kids’ expectation of the jolly old elf bringing them presents galore on Christmas morning!
I don’t believe this group is even open to considering the fact that their belief is built on anything but what they’ve been taught all their lives (most in the group are 60+ women who are considered mature believers) . . .
I have insight to truth and hate to see them anchoring their hope in the “great escape” . . .
Note: I never did believe in Santa but was forbidden to share that nugget of truth with any of my family or friends! LOL
The subsequent online discussion centered around how this woman could introduce other beliefs and effectively change how those in her house group thought. Most firmly believe the church is going through the Tribulation. Here’s one response that shows this mindset:
The main concern with a pre-tribulation rapture teaching I believe is an unwillingness to suffer persecution; the belief that ‘I won’t have to suffer for my faith’, so when suffering comes the believer might be taken by surprise and fold under the pressure. However that is unlikely to be true for all pre tribulation rapture believers but I do wonder if believing it tends to create this kind of weakness. ‘One’ only has to look at all of the suffering Christians experience around the world to correct this kind of escapist mentality. The argument is made that the great tribulation is different and it’s God’s wrath on mankind and his children are exempt so the rapture must happen before God’s wrath is poured out, but He is able to protect his children while on the earth without removing them from is the counter argument. The pre trib rapture idea is relatively recent and does not flow from a natural reading of the text, so this should give anyone pause for thought.
There it is. What happens in The Tribulation is no different from persecution today around the world. We who are pre-Tribbers are escapists and are mostly very weak believers. Additionally, this commenter repeats the lie that pre-Trib is a recent development, i.e. he holds to the fallacious thinking that it developed from the writings of John Darby following an interaction he had with a mystic who had a demonic revelation of the Rapture. Even worse, perhaps, as the first quote indicates, the idea is that believing in the Rapture is akin to believing in Santa Claus.
As I said earlier, these folks are really very smart people. You should see some of the books they recommend to each other in the DCW group for deeper study.
They are willing to read and explore more about the supernatural aspect of God’s kingdom (which as I agree is VERY important), yet disdain the idea that Bible prophecy is relevant. To that end, here is Proverbs 25:2:
It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.
And, guess what believers are in the eyes of God? Revelation 1:6 (KJV) declares:
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
In other words, God gives us the permission and encouragement to delve into His Word to better understand it. Thus, the idea that Bible prophecy is too obscure and incomprehensible is simply incorrect. Recall also that God commends the Bereans in Acts 17:11 for their diligence in searching the Word for truth:
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
The folks in DCW agree on the one hand in examining the Biblical text, but disagree on the other. The supernatural is (and should be) a valid exploration in Scripture to better understand it, but eschatology – no way! It’s too divisive and has no clear answers in this anti-eschatological crowd.
The one thing we know is that Bible prophecy tells us such times will come, just as 2 Peter 3:3 says:
knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
Gary, are you saying that these DCW folks you’re referencing who effectively mock the pre-Trib Rapture are following their sinful desires? That’s not for me to say; I’ll let God sort that out. However, I do detect a note of pride when I read comments by anti-pre-Tribbers, as in: “We are the strong believers because we’re going through the Tribulation’s suffering and will endure!”
I’d rather humbly fall on my face before God and plead for Him to deliver me from this horrific time to come. Call me weak and escapist – go for it. I just know that when I see the evil in the world today prior to the Tribulation, and know it will get so much worse once the Holy Spirit steps aside, I have absolutely no desire to test myself in that environment. Plus, as I’ve stated many times, the intent of the 7-year Tribulation is twofold:
- To bring Israel to saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Messiah
- To punish the unbelieving world for rejecting Jesus as Savior and Lord
Where do we who love and obey Christ fit into this scheme? Despite the DCW believers’ love of the Jewish Scriptures for their supernatural insights, it appears they may have a Replacement Theology perspective, i.e. that the church has essentially replaced Israel and that the prophecies don’t really pertain to her – they concern believers, which means the church goes through the Tribulation.
Bottom line: Yes, I am a Contrarian to the thinking that Bible prophecy is too ambiguous to interpret properly. I fully believe we can combine our knowledge of the spiritual realm with the prophetic and actually gain a greater depth of understanding of God’s kingdom because of it.
The pre-Tribulation Rapture is a move of God that all can comprehend if they apply themselves to the Scriptures without a preconceived bias. The Lord Jesus will appear soon in the air for His faithful remnant. That’s my ultimate retirement plan. I’m definitely not anticipating experiencing the Tribulation in any way, shape, or form. Come, Lord Jesus!