Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 1

March 9, 2015 at 11:10 AM 3 comments

The plain fact of the matter is that the coming seven-year period known as the Tribulation does not begin with the Rapture. Let’s get that out of the way right from the start of things. Though this author firmly believes that the Bible teaches a PreTrib Rapture (a gathering together of all authentic Christians to the Lord in the air according to 1 Thessalonians 4; cf. also 2 Thessalonians 2), the beginning of the Tribulation has nothing to do with the Rapture at all, at least directly.

There are some things that advance in society due to the fact that the Rapture occurs in the first place, but the Rapture could happen today, while the start of the Tribulation could be a month, a year, five years or more down the road. The two events are not directly connected. However, it needs to be stated that the ramifications of the PreTrib Rapture as well as the aftermath (both immediate and long-term) are extremely important in bringing society to the point where the Tribulation will begin. It is essential to understand this. The Rapture does not merely benefit the Church. It helps create conditions on the earth that move global society toward the Tribulation, God’s appointed time of wrath.

In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul teaches (and refers again to it in 2 Thessalonians 2), that the coming Rapture of the invisible Church is PreTrib in nature. That is, the Rapture will occur prior to the Tribulation and there are numerous reasons that this makes sense, both biblically and extra-biblically.

Many books have been written on the subject of the Rapture with presentations from all sides. Of late – probably within the past 20 to 30 years – those who reject the PreTrib Rapture position have gone to the extent of attacking both the position itself and those who hold it. The people making the attacks believe that their anger and vitriol are born of a “righteous indignation.” They firmly believe that those who hold such a position – that the Rapture will occur prior to the Tribulation – are deceiving many because they themselves are also deceived.

This alleged deception is one that will allegedly cause people to fall away from the faith. They also argue that when the Tribulation begins and the Rapture has not happened yet, the people who have been deceived into believing the PreTrib Rapture position will – because of the entrenched deception – end up taking the mark of the beast and will spend eternity without Christ. The absurdity of this is evident when realizing that the sealing of the Holy Spirit, His indwelling nature, and the fact that Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, are all set aside based on a man-made argument.

pretrib_reworked_cover_smallI’ve dealt with the subject of the Rapture in both articles and books and have presented a complete and thorough discourse on why the PreTrib Rapture is the only plausible way to understand Paul’s teaching.[1] Because of that, there is no point in presenting that same information here. Instead, information that is specific to Paul’s teaching in either 1 or 2 Thessalonians with the Tribulation in view will be presented. Readers are encouraged to do their own study of God’s Word to determine through prayer and humble submission to the Lord which view of the Rapture is the correct view.

However, the Bible does not avoid the subject and IF the PreTrib Rapture occurs prior to the start of the Tribulation, then saints living during that period of time will surely be blessed because of it. The rest of us will die physically first, but will also participate in the Rapture (the dead in Christ will rise first, as declared by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Let’s look at the text.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words,” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

In the above verses, Paul speaks of an event we call the Rapture. The phrase used in the text is “caught up,” which in the Latin ultimately translates to “rapture” in English. This is clearly not the second coming, though some read into the Scripture here by saying that when the Lord “descends,” He eventually descends all the way to the earth. Yet, this is not stated or truly implied in this section of Scripture at all. It is simply understood that way by those who believe that the Rapture happens at the exact same time as the Lord’s physical second coming.

This is what Paul is commenting on or reminding the believers at Thessalonica about in his second letter to them. He does not want them to be afraid that the Rapture has already occurred or that the “day of the Lord” (beginning with the start of the Tribulation) has already taken place.

Is it pointless to even discuss the Rapture if, for instance, the Rapture is a long way off (even if it is PreTribulational)? No, and in fact, as we study the Bible concerning the times leading up to and including the Tribulation period, we learn exactly what impact that the PreTrib Rapture has on society throughout the globe when it happens and how it actually aids the “mystery of lawlessness” that Paul refers to in 2 Thessalonians 2.

In that section of Scripture, Paul refers to this “mystery of lawlessness” that will exist prior to the start of the Tribulation. In fact, though we know this same lawlessness was alive and well during Paul’s day, it is very clear that it has progressed to the point where, roughly 2,000 years later, it has become even more palpably evil than it was during Paul’s lifetime because it has gained more of the world’s attention by working throughout many elements of society.

This lawlessness that Paul speaks of is intended to capture (and direct) this world prior to the arrival and revealing of Antichrist and the start of the Tribulation period. Let’s look at the text of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 to see what we can see.

1  Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

3 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;

4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Verse 1 references the fact that authentic Christians will be gathered together at His coming. This is important verbiage to understand. According to Constable, “The Lord’s ‘appearance’ (Gr. epiphaneia) is a different and later event in His “coming” (Gr. parousia) than the ‘gathering’ (Gr. episynagoges) event (v. 1). The first event is the Rapture, and the second is the Second Coming.”[2]

In verse 2, Paul then provides comfort for those who have been shaken by reports that the “day of the Lord” (or “day of Christ”) has already begun or is ready to start. In verse 3, Paul backs up his statement with a context, indicating that the coming “day of the Lord” (which starts with and includes the Tribulation period) cannot happen unless there is a “falling away” first. This must occur because it is this “mystery of lawlessness” that drives the world to the point where the Tribulation must begin.

Regarding this “falling away” (or apostasy; v. 3), “…it seems likely that the apostasy Paul had in mind expanded on Jewish apocalyptic expectations and envisioned a dramatic and climactic falling away from the worship of the true God (by both Jews and some portion of the Christian church) as a part of the complex of events at the end of the age.”[3]

Paul appears to be stating that the “mystery of lawlessness” will build to a point where a great falling away occurs, when “he” who keeps things in check will be moved out of the way. There is, of course, great debate over who the “he” is in that passage, but it seems clear enough that the “he” is the Holy Spirit working through the invisible Church. Once the Church is removed, the Holy Spirit will no longer be able to work through that venue, though of course, the Holy Spirit will be here still, working to accomplish all of God’s purposes.

The falling away that Paul speaks of, though alive and growing during Paul’s day, would become so incredibly enmeshed throughout all of society prior to the beginnings of the Tribulation (and will continue as a crescendo right up to the time Jesus physically returns at the end of the Tribulation), that it will be as though there is no restraint on society at all. We have not arrived to this point yet, but imagine if the world had not one authentic Christian in it. What would the world look like then?

When the Rapture takes place, and all true Christians leave the earth, this great “apostasy,” which is connected with a worldwide delusion or deception, will overwhelm the human race.[4]

We need to stop and think about the ramifications of the PreTrib Rapture. While some have spent their time harping about the alleged deception they believe undergirds the PreTrib Rapture belief, they seem to have missed several extremely cogent points that are without doubt connected to this event.

It is very important to understand that the Tribulation does not take place in a vacuum but coincides with events that occur in society. This is all part of God’s timing and purposes. In essence, the occurrence of the Rapture allows for the worsening of society. Once the Church is gone, there will be precious little to keep society in check (as it was in the days of Noah; as it was in the days of Lot).

Besides the constant push toward evil that currently exists in global society, certain events highlighted in the Bible will play their part in allowing and advocating a greater advance of evil than would have occurred had those events not happened at all. Certainly one large, unmistakable event is the Rapture. Yet, too many people tend to think of the Rapture as merely an event in which millions of authentic Christians “escape” from this planet. That is certainly part of it; one side of the coin. However, the other part of the coin – as the result of the Rapture occurring – is represented by the things that occur in society because the Rapture has taken place. This cannot be stressed enough.

In order for the Tribulation to begin, global society will have to reach a point where the level of evil becomes so great that reversing direction as a whole back to God is impossible (except for individuals here and there). The restructuring of society through its continued conforming to evil pushes society away from God to an ever-increasing degree (Psalm 2). This causes an increasing number of people to progressively embrace an increasing level of evil.

Once the Rapture has occurred, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit in and through the Church will be gone (since the Church will be gone). This extremely important fact leaves a vacuum in society that causes evil to rush in and fill it.

Even though Paul does not mention the Rapture in verses three and four of 2 Thessalonians 2 (though he does refer to it in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, while alluding to it in 2 Thessalonians 2), it is clear that it is part of the discussion. While he does not present a chronological order of events here (but more of a logical one, in which the Rapture is included but not specifically mentioned, based on what he taught in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), it is understood that the Rapture is obviously part of the equation.

Based on what Paul taught the Thessalonian believers (as referenced in 1 Thessalonians), if the Tribulation had already begun, then either 1) the Rapture had occurred and believers at Thessalonica were left behind, or 2) the Rapture didn’t happen and they had misunderstood Paul’s clear teaching on the matter. In any case, Paul wanted to calm their fears, once again reminding them that there is a logical progression of events that will lead up to and include all of the Tribulation.

First and foremost, a falling away must occur, then the man of sin will be revealed (after this falling away, at some point during the Tribulation), and this same man of sin will end up in the Lake of Fire (to receive his eternal destruction). The reason Paul doesn’t deal again with the Rapture here is because he is specifically being asked about the “day of the Lord” and in this context, the Rapture is not included in that “day.” The Rapture is a completely separate event in which all authentic Christians are “caught up” to be with the Lord forever before the Tribulation begins.

This is not something that the true Church brings about or is in any way, active. The true Christians who make up the invisible Church are taken up to be with the Lord. This demonstrates a passive participation of true Christians in this event. We have nothing to do with it other than to be carried off to meet the Lord in the air. We cannot make the Rapture happen when we want it to occur. We cannot live in such a way as to make the Rapture happen sooner. The timing of the Rapture is set by God in His timetable. We cannot make it happen sooner than it is planned to occur.

We’ll be back next time with more on this subject.

[1] Fred DeRuvo, The PreTrib Rapture (2009)

[2] http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/2thessalonians.pdf

[3] http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/2thessalonians.pdf, p. 14

[4] Ibid, p. 15

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Pretribulational Rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: , , .

Any Connection Between Technocracy and the Rapture? Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 2

3 Comments

  • […] our first article in this short series – Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 1 – we discussed in some detail the Rapture as an event that takes place sometime prior to the […]

  • 2. sderuvo  |  March 9, 2015 at 2:25 PM

    Great article. Very clear and concise. Clarifies that the Rapture is not associated with the Day of The Lord, but that the result of the Rapture will influence the world to bring them to the place described prior to the tribulation.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • 3. modres  |  March 9, 2015 at 2:26 PM

      Thanks for your comments.


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