People all over the world are interested in the future, and asking the
question: "What will happen to this world? What is in the
Christians today have two different answers about the future. Some
Christians say that we must first go through the Great Tribulation. Other
Christians say that we will suddenly be raptured to meet Christ in the
air. Who are correct?
This issue is very important, because it will affect our hope, joy, and
What is Great
First, let us define what is the Great Tribulation. Jesus said: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the
beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be"
Jesus defined the Tribulation as an unprecedented time of suffering and
trials on earth.
Most of the book of Revelation, from chapter 6 to chapter 18, deals with
the Great Tribulation. Even starting in chapter 6 (verse 8), one-fourth of
the world's population is already killed. And another one-third of world
population died in chapter 9 (verse 18). This has never happened in world
Thus, the Tribulation is not normal human sufferings and trials. This will
be a technical period of future time (7 years) when God will rain down
unprecedented judgments, the Antichrist will sign a false treaty with
Israel and then destroy the Temple (Dan. 9:27), all waters on earth turn
into dead-men's blood (Rev. 16:3), all cities on earth collapsed (Rev.
16:19), and so on.
The word "rapture" is
taken from I Thess. 4:17 ("caught up"). That whole passage (vs.
13-18) describes the coming of Christ in the air. Two major events occur
in that split second: (1) The dead in Christ "rise first," then
(2) Those who are alive are "changed" into glorified immortal
bodies. Together, all believers meet Christ in the air, in the clouds--and
forever will be "with the Lord" in heaven. (Another passage: I
NOTE: Other passages in the Bible describe Christ coming onto the earth
together with the saints (Rev. 19), "every eye will see Him"
(Rev. 1:7), and He will start the Millennial Kingdom on earth (Rev. 20).
This event is called "the Second Advent." It occurs at the end
of the Tribulation, and it is different from the Rapture.
We believe that the Rapture comes first, for the following reasons:
thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the
hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that
dwell upon the earth."
True Christians are assured deliverance from the world-wide Tribulation.
They will be "kept from the hour" of unprecedented distress.
II Thess. 2:6-8
"And now ye know what
withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of
iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be
taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed..."
Paul explains that "the lawless one" (Antichrist) is coming to
earth someday. However, there is another Person who is "holding him
back." And when the latter is "taken
out of the way" (v. 7), then the Antichrist will be revealed.
Obviously, only God the Holy Spirit could hold back the Antichrist, and
the only possible occasion for the world-wide withdrawal of the Holy
Spirit's "residence" (not "presence") from earth is at
the Rapture of the Church.
the Rapture must first take place and then the Antichrist will start the
No Church After
It is amazing that Revelation chapters 1-3 are full of
"churches." But after John was called up to heaven (4:1), we do
not see any churches mentioned anymore on earth in Revelation. There were
"the elect" and "saints" but not "churches."
The believers at the Great Tribulation belong to a different dispensation
(like the Old Testament saints).
In this passage, God decreed a time of "Seventy Sevens" for the
Jews ("your people and your city," v.24). The angel even gave us
its starting point (rebuiding of Jerusalem) and its ending point (coming
of Messiah). Simple chronological calculations make it clear that: (a) The
first 69-sevens ended when Jesus Christ was crucified in A.D. 32; (b) The
last 70th-sevens will start at the future Great Tribulation; (c) The
intervening time between Christ's crucifixion and the Great Tribulation
is, of course, the Church Age.
Therefore, since the Bible did not overlap the Church Age (for Christians)
with the Tribulation (for the Jews), we should not overlap the two
The Nature of the
As mentioned above, Jesus defined the Great Tribulation as
"unprecedented" (Matt. 24:21). It is God's wrath, filled to the
brim, falling on the world. A simple reading of tribulational passages
describes it as world-wide and utterly unprecedented. No one may hope to
escape it. Christians, however, are assured of escaping God's wrath and
condemnation (Rom. 8:1; I Thess. 5:9)
Second Coming Passages
If we lump the thousands of verses on Christ's coming into one single
event, we are faced with many contradictions. Some verses tell of Christ
coming in the air, other verses say Christ is coming to the earth. Some
verses give us no signs ("like a thief in the night"); other
verses give us lots of signs. Some verses say that those "in
Christ" will be involved; other verses say that "every eye shall
see Him." From some verses, we read of the blessed hope and great
comfort; from others, it is judgment time and distress. In order to read
Bible prophecy logically, we must see two major events (rapture and second
advent)--separated in time.
Early Church Belief:
The early church believed that Christ could come at any moment. "Maranatha"
was their watchword. They did go through the Roman persecution and
terrible tribulations, but that was not the Great
Tribulation. Obviously, since the early Christians believed in the
imminent return of Christ, they could not have believed on an
intervening unprecedented Tribulation.
Doctrine of the
The Bible teaches that Christ will come to reign on the earth for one
thousand years. This was the unanimous belief of the early church. They
even coined the word: "Chiliasm" (thousand). All raptured
Christians would return with Christ to reign over the millennial earth.
The millennial earth would also be populated by mortal, non-raptured
inhabitants, who would live long lives, have children, eat and sleep,
etc. These millennial people would be believers who had survived the
Great Tribulation, as the Antichrist would lost some control at the
tribulation's end (due to supernatural judgments).
Post-tribulationism considers it a dilemma to have non-resurrected
millennial people. They cannot explain the Biblically recorded revolt at
the end of the millennium in Rev. 20:7-9. Therefore, post-tribulationists
ultimately end up neglecting (or denying) the Millennium and the literal
interpretation of it. Lesson: To accept the literal Millennium, one must
Jesus tells us to "understand" prophecy (Matt. 24:15). In
order to clearly understand anything, one must use the literal method of
interpretation. When we listen to a speaker, we do not try to second
guess him, or assume that he is speaking in symbols and figures. We
respect him by taking him at his word; we assume that he means what he
says and says what he means. This is called "literal
interpretation." Among the various positions on prophecy, the
Pretribulational Rapture position is the most consistently literal
position. As a result, it makes Bible prophecy clear and understandable
to the believers.
No One Knows Time of
Jesus tells us that we cannot know when He is coming (Matt. 24:36). And
anyone who "set dates" are false prophets. If we believe the
church must pass through the Tribulation, then it is possible to set
dates for Christ's Second Coming.
For instance, post- tribulatonists could count 7 years after the
Antichrist unites 10 nations of the Revived Roman Empire (Europe) and
signs a peace treaty with Israel--and then Christ comes. Or, better
still, they could count three-and-one-half years after Antichrist sits
in the Jerusalem Temple and stops all sacrifices, and then wait for
Christ to come.
Conversely, pre-tribulatonists say Christ is coming "at any
moment" and we must always be ready for His coming.
What are we
First, be sure you have believed on Christ as your personal Saviour.
There is nothing more futile and hopeless than to defend your past life
before God, the Eternal Judge. At the Great White Throne, God's
requirement would be pure white. The Bible give us the only way out of
eternal condemnation: "The
blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sins" (1
Right now, you may receive God's gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
Jesus Christ purchased your redemption through His blood on the Cross.
You need not understand it all to be saved--only understand that God
offers you a full pardon for sin in Christ. Right now, in your own way,
thank Jesus for dying for your sins and invite Him into your heart.
As a saved believer, you will not have to go through the Great
Then, be watching and working for Christ.
In Matthew 24:45, Christ looks for the "faithful and wise
servant" who will be rewarded when He comes. The standard for God's
rewards and praise is faithfulness. Watch for the Lord's soon return,
and do everything "as unto the Lord" (Col. 3:23,24). Share the
good news of salvation with others, have fellowship with fellow
believers, and maintain a healthy Christian life. Christ wants to find
us busy at work for Him, and not idly waiting for Him.
my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the
work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain
in the Lord" (I
OF FAITH OF BIBLE COMMUNICATIONS, INC
WE BELIEVE in the imminent return of the Lord for His church before the
Seven-year Tribulation Period, and in His subsequent glorious and
visible return to the earth with His saints to establish His millennial
to "Knowledge Base Articles" Menu