There are many who dispute the notion of the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church. So be it. They claim to find verses here and there in the Bible that support their various positions, be they mid-Tib, pre-Wrath, post-Trib, or no-Rapture. I respectfully disagree and declare that God is so clear in His communication to the church, that He has provided evidence throughout the New Testament of His intent to remove the Bride of Christ from the earth prior to the 7-year Tribulation. Not only that, but this mystery that Paul discussed in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 is even validated in the Old Testament.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
Most people who read Scripture from a literal perspective should be able to see that Isaiah 24 is all about the Tribulation. Several examples should suffice:
Behold, the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate,
and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.
Terror and the pit and the snare
are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!
Moreover, the prophet tells us that at the end of the Tribulation (Armageddon), the rebellious demonic host of heaven, which includes Satan, will be thrown into Tartarus until their day of final judgment. The human element in league with them are likewise cast into this temporary prison. We see this in Isaiah 24:21-22:
On that day the Lord will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.
Why does God bring the Tribulation’s punishment upon this planet in the first place? Isaiah 24:20 provides the succinct answer:
… its transgression lies heavy upon it,
and it falls, and will not rise again.
Throughout the Bible God shows His unfathomable love, mercy, and grace upon mankind. However, in His dealing with the children of Israel, we see His wrath as a result of their disobedience. He reaches a point time and again that He must punish them in judgment because they have spurned His love and chosen another way to live other than in Him. The example of Israel is reflective of the rest of humanity. When anyone, whether it’s Israel, with whom God has a special relationship, or mankind in the all Gentile nations, He gives people more than adequate opportunity to choose life with Him. When they decide not to follow His righteous ways, the time comes that He must bring correction. The ultimate righting of this wrong will occur during the Tribulation.
The Lord has two primary purposes in raining down His wrath upon the earth during this most horrible of seven years:
One: Through this time He will bring final redemption to Israel in the remnant that finally acknowledges Jesus Christ as Messiah.
Two: He will punish this unbelieving world, while at the same time, redeeming a remnant of mankind that turns to Him in faith.
For all those who believe that the church of true believers in Christ must go through the Tribulation, as always, I have to ask: Where do Christ-followers, saved by the blood of Jesus, fit into this picture? Are we redeemed? Have we accepted the gracious gift of salvation offered by our Lord? Has He removed our iniquities as far as the east is from the west? If so, why do you think God requires the blood-bought Bride of Christ to endure these horrible days of Tribulation? Why is our generation so much worse than that of believers in 1700, 1800, 1900, or whatever earlier time, which necessitates our having to suffer through the day of the Lord? If the Tribulation is for Israel, which it is; if the Tribulation is for unbelievers, which it is – then what purpose in God’s overall plan to draw all men to Himself is served by believers entering into this time of wrath?
Most pre-Trib Rapture believers see the Lord assuring us of His taking us to heaven as protection and blessing in John 14:1-3:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
If we don’t go to heaven and find refuge during the Tribulation in our Father’s house, when exactly would we do that? After all, at the end of the Tribulation, when Jesus returns to earth – with His saints following, by the way – He remains here to rule and reign on His throne in Jerusalem. We’re here also in glorified bodies ruling and reigning under His direction. During the Tribulation is the only period which believers spend any time in heaven. Forevermore, at least until the end of the Millennium, we remain on the earth once we come back with Jesus.
Moreover, we also believe that Revelation 4:1 speaks of the Rapture:
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
The church is spoken of, and to, only to this point in John’s Revelation. Note the verse says: after this. It is after John is transported, i.e. Raptured, to heaven that he is shown what will occur on the earth following that translation. This is when the Tribulation begins. The church is not mentioned again until Revelation 19 as the time of Tribulation concludes.
I stated earlier that Isaiah has a pre-Trib Rapture passage. Consider what the prophet says in Isaiah 26:20-21:
Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.
Can you read this and not see John echoing this in the verses noted above? God’s people are called to their chambers, i.e. the rooms or mansions in heaven that He has prepared for them. They provide refuge, that is a hiding place for believers (my people) while God reigns down wrath upon the earth for the sins of mankind. It will be a bloody, awful time of punishment.
The takeaway is that God will protect His own. He intends great harm to come upon this unbelieving world, yet because of His love and mercy, He will shelter those who have chosen to align with Him prior to His judgment.
Any other position besides belief in a pre-Tribulation Rapture fails to understand the character of God. He is our blessed hope. Because He loves the Bride of Christ, He will provide safe quarters for her. Jesus is returning soon. We stand upon this Rock in our faith. Because of that, He will keep us from the great and terrible day of the Lord.