July 23, 2012
What validity, if any, should be given to the Prewrath Rapture theory?
In a book titled The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthal, this earlier reliable proponent of the pretrib position altered his view and suggested that the Rapture will take place twenty-one months after the time designated by the midtribulationists and five and a half years after the pretribulation position. In other words, the Church would be destined to face the terrors of the Tribulation before the period of God’s wrath occurs.
The problem with this view is that rather than the Church looking forward to the return of Christ, the focus now shifts to the fearful expectation of the coming of Antichrist. No longer is the Church safe from the Tribulation, but is now present during the first three-quarters of this most horrible period in history. When first presented to the public, this end-time, theological bombshell resulted in enormous confusion and dismay in many theological quarters. While to date it has been largely dismissed as improbable and unbiblical, it is still important to recognize that this position is shot through with speculation and misinterpretation of Scripture-primarily because it tampers with key verses that for more than one hundred years have been the theological bedrock to the understanding of the Rapture and what has, for the most part, been a pretribulation view.
For the Christian, the pretrib position must remain paramount because it encourages us to look forward to that “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)-that any-moment-return of “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The pretrib view promises that Christians will not endure the great terror of that day when Antichrist rules, when hordes of pestilences invade our world, when incurable diseases strike humankind with abandon, and when the atmosphere of earth as we know it deteriorates to where planet earth is unlivable and the air not fit to breathe.
The prewrath view puts Christians in the heat of battle. The brilliant scholar Dr. Gerald B. Stanton writes: “Rosenthal contradicts himself on the extent of God’s wrath and the time of the Second Coming of Christ. While his sincerity may be beyond question, many of his definitions appear to be homemade and supporting evidence is completely inadequate. … Rosenthal is in serious error when he attempts to set the time of the Rapture three-fourths of the way through the seven years of judgment and wrath, some 1,890 days after the Anti-Christ makes his unparalleled covenant with Israel. . . . The Lord’s people should not be confused by vehement argumentation designed to set the day of His appearing.”
If Rosenthal were correct in his assumptions, a prewrath Rapture would be the Christian’s ultimate nightmare, hardly the “blessed hope” promised in Scripture. Tim LaHaye makes the point: “It would be a non-event, for there would be few if any Christians left to rapture at this time. Could any Christian take Antichrist’s mark and thus survive to be raptured? Indeed not. Revelation 14:9-10 makes it clear that ‘those who worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark will be consigned to hell. “2 Well said.
Since the publication of Rosenthal’s book, virtually every reviewer has brought its limitations and biblical inaccuracies to light-primary among them the issue of imminency. The prewrath theory destroys the sense of expectation, demotivates the body of Christ, and puts the believer’s focus on evil rather than good. The only solace given to Christians in the prewrath theory is that they will be raptured before the great Battle of Armageddon-small comfort since the Church would have already endured the worst of the great Tribulation judgments. Fortunately, while disruptive in some circles over the years, Rosenthal’s theory has never gained ardent followers.
Who are the “elect” of Matthew 24:22
Posttribulationists (those who believe the Church of Jesus Christ will endure the terrible period of the Tribulation) like to use this verse-“Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22)-saying this passage proves the Church will remain on earth because we are the “elect.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Many do not realize that God has two elect groups on earth. There is the Church (see Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:2), but that is not the group referred to in Matthew 24:22. How do I know this? Isaiah 42:1 speaks of the Jews as God’s elect. So does Isaiah 45:4; 65:9; and 65:22.
How does one know that the Jews are the elect for whom the days are being shortened in Matthew 24:22? It’s important at all times to keep the biblical text in context, and this is especially true here. First of all, this elect group is to flee from Judaea to the mountains. Judaea is the Holy Land, the area where Christ walked and ministered in human flesh (see Matthew 24:16). They are not to flee on the Sabbath day (shabbat) (Matthew 24:20). According to Exodus 31:13, the Sabbath day is to be eternally practiced by the Jews. In Mark 13:9, we find that they are beaten in the synagogues… not in the churches. We don’t meet in synagogues because we are the Church (see Acts 2:47).
Finally, all these events take place in the area of Jerusalem (see Luke 21:24). The elect, therefore, at this time in history, are Jews, God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Because of their history of rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah (Savior), God, in His foreknowledge, has set up a different schedule for the Jews as a nation.
Because the true Church, all born-again believers, wholeheartedly accept Christ as Savior (John 1:11-12), they are called to heaven to escape the Tribulation period, or Time of Jacob’s Trouble. During this time of disillusionment and despair, the Jews as a nation will finally recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah and King in the midst of their suffering (Romans 11:26). This clarifies Matthew 24:22, which states, “But for the elect’s sake [Israel, Deuteronomy 7:6-7] those days shall be shortened.”
The judgment seat of Christ for the Church then occurs in the heavenlies as the Tribulation judgment hits the earth with massive force. Both elect groups are being prepared for the Millennium-one in heaven, the other upon earth. At the conclusion of this Time of Jacob’s Trouble, Christ returns with an army of believers and judges the nations on the basis of their rejection of Christ and their treatment of Israel (Matthew 25:31-46).
Who are the 144,000?
What is their role in the great revival to come?
When will that revival take place?
Before or after the Rapture?
In one of the best books in print on the last days, Escape the Coming Night, by Dr. David Jeremiah, the author titles one of his chapters “Revival during Hell on Earth.” What an apt description of the Tribulation. It will indeed be hell on earth-something we have already described, but that we’ll continue to refer to throughout this book. Here’s how Dr. Jeremiah describes the Tribulation Hour judgment of a “groaning planet.”
First, the white horse gallops onto the world scene carrying the man of deception, the coming world dictator; second, the red horse claws the air, abolishing any semblance of peace on earth; third, the black horse appears, creating hunger and economic disaster; fourth, the pale horse spreads deadly plague in its path. The fifth seal reveals the martyrs of the Tribulation, and the sixth seal unleashes one of the most devastating earthquakes. What a gloomy backdrop! No wonder the question is asked, “Who is able to stand?”‘
Who indeed? Monstrous catastrophes will afflict the earth and its people. But then, we see that God sends His angels to seal His people off from final judgment. A reprieve, it seems. Light at the end of a dark tunnel. Once again God protects His own-even as He spread His covering wings over Noah and his family, shielding them from extinction; Rahab the harlot, carried to safety by means of a sturdy scarlet rope; Daniel spared from a den of hungry lions; Moses swept to safety from the bulrushes of Egypt; Lot and his family rescued before the terrible fire fell on Sodom; and the protection of Israel’s children through a dabbing of blood on the doorposts of their Egyptian homes. God has provided protection for His people-the children of Israel-throughout the annals of biblical and secular history. Now He promises to protect them once again-during the end times-giving them the opportunity to know the Messiah they so long rejected.
Who will be the minister of God’s salvation during this time? The Jews themselves-God’s chosen people. Scripture gives ample proof that God can do anything at any time. I do not expect there will be a great revival before the Rapture because 2 Timothy 3:13 states, “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” John also spoke about the latter-day Church in Revelation 3:15-16: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
Presently some of our churches are so cold that we could have signs above the doors stating: First Church of the Deep Freeze, Dr. Jack Frost, Pastor. However, there is going to be a great revival. It will occur during the seven-year Tribulation period when 144,000 Jews (Revelation 7:4-8) will circle the globe, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14), declaring the good news: The King is coming! At that time, the Bible says, “All Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). That means Jews. But when one gets to Revelation 7:9, it is a “great multitude.” Who are they? These are the ones who emerged from the Great Tribulation “and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14). They have trusted in the blood of the Lamb. They have been cleansed. Both Jews and Gentiles are saved during the greatest revival in history, because at that time, God says, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28). Yes, there will be a great revival, and it will occur after the Rapture. In all probability, the Rapture will convince many that all these things they heard about Jesus and the Bible are, in fact, true, persuading them to want to know the Lord before it is too late.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
At Peace with Who I Am
Ill never forget meeting Phyllis.
We were at a college in Chattanooga, Tennessee, conducting a series of meetings with the student body. When I sing, I endeavor to establish eye contact with people in the audience, and as I looked over that large group of students, my eyes met hers. She was right in the front, looking up with an angelic face, totally absorbed in the words of my song. I could hardly take my eyes off her.
Phyllis had obviously been born with a defect that hindered her growth. Though she was an adult, she was the size of an infant. Her little legs were too small to enable her to walk well, so she got around by means of a small childs tricycle. She looked like a tiny doll, sitting on her trike, quietly listening to my song. I dont think Ive ever felt such an instant, deep love for anyone as I felt for Phyllis that day.
When the service was concluded, Phyllis asked a friend to bring me to her. Without any hesitation, I did what I had been longing to do from the moment I first saw her. I took her in my arms and hugged her.
Psalm 139:14 says, I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. As I talked with Phyllis this verse came to mind, and I was struck by the thought that the truth of this psalm applied to her just as surely as it applied to the psalmist, or to me, or to anyone else! God had fashioned Phyllis, and regardless of her appearance from our human perspective, He had not made a mistake.
I was particularly impressed by the depth of Phylliss quiet beauty. From what I could tell in that brief encounter, she had no self-image problems. To the contrary, she appeared confident, strong, and spiritually mature. As she shared the concerns of her heart with me so that I might pray with her, I noticed that not one of her requests was selfish. Phyllis asked me to pray for her roommates, for her loved ones, and about some problems she was aware of involving other students. She did not ask me to pray for her. Although her physical problems and the difficulties she had getting around resulted in very pressing personal needs, the focus of her concern was on the needs of others. When I gently asked what she would like me to pray for on her behalf, she smiled sweetly and said, “Oh, no, nothing for me!”
Phyllis had grasped a truth that most people completely miss-that we are created by God for His glory. Consequently, she was content with what she had and the way she was. She was fearfully and wonderfully made, and for someone of such small stature, she was touching a multitude of lives.
A designer original
In our society, self-acceptance is a rare reality. Although people today tend to spend a good deal of time thinking about themselves-ours may just be the most self-centered generation ever-most people simply do not like themselves and end up baffled and bewildered by their dissatisfaction. Such self-rejection is completely debilitating, for the one who is dissatisfied with himself has a more difficult time finding true fulfillment.
I believe Psalm 139 was written for those whose dissatisfaction is focused on themselves. Three truths in the psalm provide for the development of an individual sense of self-worth. We want to look at the first one this week and the next week we will cover the remaining two.
First of all, God made us. Verse 16 states:…in thy book all my members were written…when as yet there was none of them. Thus we see that God has not only made us, but He has made us according to a perfect plan. We are not accidents. Instead, as a special creation, each of us has intrinsic value. Regardless of our physical condition, appearance, or abilities, we are of great value to God for we were made to glorify Him.
Mary Crowley, president of Home Interiors and Gifts, Inc., of Dallas, Texas-a very successful businesswoman-has a motto, “Be somebody-God doesnt take time to make a nobody.” Mary, by giving unselfishly of herself, has earned the respect of the business and political world. She told me in an interview that she feels God has gifted her with the ability to motivate others. She works with the women she employs, helping them to build a strong self-image, with an emphasis on developing inner qualities of beauty. “My self-image is tied up in the character of God himself,” she said. “I want every woman to know that inside her, God has created the potential of genius.”
Contemporary humanity is obsessed with outward appearances. We tend to think that if something looks good it is good, and if it doesnt look good, it isnt. As a result, our focus is on externals-clothing, weight, the way we style our hair, and the way we make up our faces. I do not mean to imply that these things are not important. Looking good can make you feel better about yourself, and you may even act better because of it. What I am saying is that the emphasis too often is out of balance. The way we look must always take second place to the condition of the spirit.
Mary Kay Ash, founder of one of Americas most successful cosmetic companies, once said, “True beauty comes from within. You have to feel good about yourself.”
The myths of the advertising world
The advertising world constantly feeds our obsession about our looks with television commercials appearing to our inner cravings to be beautiful and accepted. They tell us diet soft drinks will ensure a slim body, that by using the right toothpaste we will have sparking teeth, and that a certain brand of shampoo will take care of our dandruff problems-people will reject you if they catch you scratching an itchy scalp. And on and on it goes.
Any thinking person should recognize that this is nonsense, but many are lured by promises into buying the products. One can be slim, beautiful, and young looking and still not be satisfied. The incidence of suicide among young models and movie stars is proof that externals do not satisfy.
Furthermore, putting sizzle into a relationship with exotic perfume and by dressing seductively is no guarantee of long-lasting satisfaction. The assault by the media upon our senses with images of gorgeous women and macho men who give every appearance of having attained the ultimate in satisfaction is a myth.
The list of gifted, creative, and attractive people who have killed themselves is long. These were people who had reached the top of the ladder. Supposedly they were successful and satisfied. Any such list is tragic. You may recognize some of these names: John Barrymore, Anne Sexton, Hart Crane, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Chatterton, and even Socrates. So it can be seen that unless a person has come to terms with himself, with his uniqueness as one of Gods children, no amount of money, fame, or effort expended on ways to change ones self-image is going to bring durable satisfaction. Ultimately, being baffled, bewildered, and befuddled can have tragic consequences.
The result of modern marketings emphasis on the external, the visible, is simply more self-rejection. Commercials are designed to make us dissatisfied with the way we are. Their aim, of course, is getting us to want their products. We are actually being programmed to be dissatisfied with ourselves. We are being taught to focus on the externals only. Consequently, many totally neglect the fundamental truths that God made us to reflect His glory and that how we look on the outside is of fleeting importance.
Looks change. Of all our temporal possessions, outward appearance is perhaps the one that fades first. It can be destroyed instantly by an accident, or it slowly deteriorates. No one stays young forever, and everyone who lives long enough will have wrinkles, a change in the color and texture of their hair or even baldness, and show other signs of aging.
On the other hand, Gods workmanship in us involves qualities of character He desires to build into our lives. For example, He wants us to be reflections of His love. He also desires that we exhibit integrity, purity, and holiness. He wants us to be patient, kind, and humble. None of these things can be accomplished by altering the way we look!
I had the delightful privilege of interviewing Dee Jepson, wife of then Senator Roger Jepson of Iowa. (She also served as Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison during the Reagan administration.)
Dee told me that a turning point in her life came when she realized that her career, her status in life, and her material successes were not what gave her life meaning. She saw that because she was a creation of a good and almighty and loving God, she had value as a person that would be there even if her career came suddenly to an end or if she lost every material possession. She said:
In a day and age when women are seeking their identity, I think that oftentimes they are looking in the wrong places. I think it is very important that they realize we need to find our identity in our importance as human beings just because we are. I think it is very important that we find our value and our identity in the fact that we are children of God.
I also feel that as women make their choices in life, if they choose to be a homemaker and stay home and contribute in that way, that is an immensely important role. If they serve their family, support their husbands career, make a house a home, shape and mold young lives, they are making a major contribution to society. They shouldnt feel any guilt or societal pressure to go out and make some kind of mark in the marketplace.
Dee is one of those people who exudes confidence, strength, and security. Her secret is that she does not base her sense of self-worth on anything that can be taken away from her. Her confidence comes from knowing the One who made her. She knows He loves her, and thus she can accept herself. As she puts it, “For me, Jesus Christ is the center of my life, and that is what life is about. If you are attempting to be, and willing to be, in the center of His will, it makes things so much easier because it sort of transfers the responsibility to Him”. This kind of attitude and understanding builds the kind of satisfaction that nothing external can ever take away.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Jack, I simply love your teachings and current events. Watchman, please do not come down off the wall. You are a rare voice crying in the wilderness.
Know that your words from the Lord are not in vain.
Pastor T. D. Green
I just want to thank you Jack, Rexella and your staff for your wonderful newsletter. During the last 3 weeks I feel like God has directed me to really start paying attention and sowing into your ministry. My teenagers and I look forward to watching your show every Sunday. I have been trying to send your newsletters to anyone who will listen especially family members. May God continue to richly bless you and Rexella and thank you again for having the boldness to teach us the word of God.
See you at the rapture!
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