Who Gets Left Behind?
Exposing the Pre-Tribulation Rapture
by Christine Egbert
The scripture most often cited by pre-tribulation rapture theorists as proof that the church will be snatched away to Heaven before the tribulation is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and we shall always be with the Lord.”
In this article, I hope to show that Scripture does not support this modern Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine.
In his book, Now About That Rapture (copyright 1997), Gerald E. Cronk listed fourteen tenants of the pre-tribulation rapture theory juxtaposed to short summations of what Scripture teaches. Here they are:
|1. The Church could be raptured at any moment, but before the tribulation.||1. The church is raptured only after the great tribulation.|
|2. The Rapture is a secret, stealthy event||2. The Rapture is an open, manifest event.|
|3. Only Christians since Pentecost are Raptured.||3. All Old Testament and New Testament saints take part.|
|4. The Church is raptured to Heaven.||4. There is no departure to Heaven at the return of Christ|
|5. The Last Trumpet is before all the other New Testament trumpets.||5. The Last Trumpet is the 7th trumpet of Revelation|
|6. The Restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is the Holy Spirit.||6. The Restrainer is not named but is not the Holy Spirit.|
|7. The Pre-tribulation Rapture is the “blessed hope of the church.”||7. The “hope” of the Church is the post-tribulation return of Christ in great glory and power.|
|8. The total Second Coming of Christ involves two or more parousia of Christ.||8. The total Second Coming of Christ involves but one parousia.|
|9. Pre-tribulation teaches two or more resurrections of the righteous.||9. Post-tribulation teaches but one resurrection of the righteous|
|10. The Day of Christ is not the same as the Day of the Lord.||10. The Day of Christ and the Day of the Lord are one and the same.|
|11. Christ must come for the Church before He can come with it.||11. Christ comes with the Church at the same time that He comes for it.|
|12. The Gospel of Matthew is for the Jews and not for the Church.||12. All of the New Testament is for “whosoever will.”|
|13. The elect in Matthew 24 are the Jews||13. The elect in Matthew 24 are Church saints, both Jew and Gentile.|
|14. Christ’s wrath includes the tribulation.||14. God’s wrath comes after the tribulation.|
Amos 3:7 informs us that the LORD (Yahweh) does nothing without first revealing it to His prophets. Since the 4th day of Creation, He has made His Appointed Times (mo’ed) known through the luminaries He placed in the heavens. In Genesis 1:14 the Hebrew word mo’ed is translated as “seasons” in most English Bibles. Elsewhere in Scripture, it is translated as ”meetings” or “Feasts”. But mo’ed can mean an appointed time, an appointed place, or an appointed occasion.
Knowing that God keeps His Appointed Times, we can rest assured that Jesus (Yeshua) will not return at any moment, as many teach, but at the exact predetermined moment on some future Feast of Trumpets, (Yom Teruah). In the first century, the Jewish people had an idiom for this Feast, Yom Teruah. It was called the time for which no man knew the day or hour.
The Feast of Trumpets is the only Feast that is determined when the first sliver of a new moon is sighted. It occurs over a two-day period. Thus, no man ever knew the day or the hour, only the season (Appointed Time). The exact day and hour had to be watched for.
Matthew 25:13 – “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 – “But concerning the times and the seasons (Mo’ed/ appointed times), brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you know perfectly that the day of the LORD (Yahweh) so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as others, but let us watch and be sober.”
On one future Feast of Trumpets
1 Corinthians 15:52 – “… in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
We also know from Matthew 24:27 that Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) return will not be a secret, stealthy event. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
And it will not be before the tribulation.
Matthew 24:29-31 says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. The stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Jeremiah 31:9-10 – “They shall come with weeping, and I will lead them with prayers. I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a right way; they will not stumble in it. For I am a Father to Israel and Ephraim is My firstborn. Hear the Word of the LORD (Yahweh), O nations and declare in the coastlands far away, say, He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him, as a shepherd his flock.”
The event that many Christians call the Rapture—a word not found in the Bible—is known in Scripture as the Resurrection or Day of the LORD (Yahweh). The Bible clearly teaches that at the end of this age there will be a time of great tribulation, after which Jesus (Yeshua) will return and the dead in the Christ will rise first in glorified bodies. Those who remain will put on immortality. Together they will meet Jesus (Yeshua) in the air. Then Jesus (Yeshua) will pour out His wrath on Israel’s enemies and marry His bride.
In four places only does the New Testament use the Greek word ”apantesis” (ἀπάτη G539), translated as meet. Three of these instances regard Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) return (the fourth is found in Acts 28:15).
Matthew 25:1 – “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
Matthew 25:6 – “At midnight came the cry, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom is coming. Go out to meet him!’” (This is a parable about Jesus’/Yeshua’s return.)
1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Why does the Bible say we will “meet” Jesus (Yeshua) in the air? Because in ancient times, whenever a bridegroom got close to the village he was going to, someone would shout, “The bridegroom is coming!” Then the reception party would rush through the city gates to meet the bridegroom and usher him in. It is that simple.
Once Jesus (Yeshua) returns He will reign from His throne in Jerusalem for 1000 years, according to the book of Revelation, and then for eternity. He will create a new Heaven and a new Earth on which his people can live forever.
The Purpose of Messiah’s First & Second Coming
The purpose of Messiah’s first coming, which is pictured by the Spring Feasts, is salvation. When He returns, He will bring restoration of all things, as depicted by the Fall Feasts. Restoration of all things will reverse the consequences of Adam’s fall. God’s people will eat from the Tree of Life that was in the Garden.
Day of the LORD (Yahweh)
Isaiah 34:8 – ”For it is the day of the LORD’s (Yahweh’s) vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion.”
Joel 2:31 – “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD (Yahweh).”
Obadiah 1:15 – “For the day of the LORD (Yahweh) upon all the nations is near. As you have done, it shall be done to you. Your reprisal shall return upon your own head.”
Zephaniah 2:2-3 – “Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD’s (Yahweh’s) fierce anger comes upon you, seek the LORD (Yahweh), all you meek of the earth who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s (Yahweh’s) anger.”
The verse does not say to pray that we are taken out of the world but that we should pray to be hidden during the Day of the LORD (Yahweh). Jesus (Yeshua) prayed to the Father, in John 17:5, and asked Him not to take those who are His out of this world but to protect them.
Zechariah 14:5 – ”Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus, the LORD (Yahweh) my God will come and all the saints with You” (in resurrected bodies).
Daniel 11:31-35 – “And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery, but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end because it is still for the appointed time. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place, he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus, he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge and advance its glory. And he shall cause them to rule over many and divide the land for gain. At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him, and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships, and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown. But these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt, also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. But news from the east and the north shall trouble him. Therefore, he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”
Daniel 12:1-3 – “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people. And there shall be a time of tribulation such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”
Daniel 7:21-22 – “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.”
Daniel 7:27 – “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.”
Revelation 21:2-3 – “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.’”
Revelation 21:22-27 – “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Who Gets Left Behind?
The parable Jesus (Yeshua) shared in Matthew 13:38-42 lets us know who gets left behind.
Matthew 13:38-42 – “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offendand those who practice lawlessness and shall cast them into a furnace of fire.”
What Is The Good News, the Gospel Of The Kingdom?
Daniel 7:18 – “The saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess it forever, even forever and ever.”