September 16, 2013
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
AM I ADDICTED?
When we hear the words “addict” or “addiction,” it seems that our chest involuntarily tightens and our heart drops in dread and alarm. Alcoholism and drug dependency-whether marijuana, crack cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, ecstasy, or powerful prescription painkillers-are problems of crisis proportion in virtually every community in our nation.
Literally billions of dollars are being spent waging a futile battle against drugs-it is a war we are losing and cannot win because it is a key prophetic sign of the end-times, pointing to the soon coming of our Lord. Almost weekly the media sources try to personalize this pervasive plague, showing various individuals-often young people-who have surrendered their minds and given their bodies over to horrendous, destructive addictions.
Have you ever known an addict? Perhaps this person wasted all his or her resources on drugs, maybe even stole from family and friends, or got involved in crime or prostitution to feed his or her enslaving habit. Its heartbreaking to see bright, decent people sink so low that they literally cant help themselves. Ive known drug-enslaved youngsters who went into rehabilitation programs and seemed to be all right for a while. But too often they ended up right back on drugs, more hopeless than before.
Is addiction killing America?
Besides alcohol and drugs, Americans struggle with countless other awful addictions. Millions are obsessed by gambling, uncontrolled spending, pornography, illicit sex, and other vicious vices. Millions more spend hour after hour surfing the Internet, playing video games, or sitting like zombies in front of TV sets watching inane and immoral programs. And in a land of abundance and excess, two-thirds of Americans are obese, literally eating themselves to death, fatally addicted to food!
Is this addiction? I believe so. When these activities habitually and obsessively control peoples behavior, causing them to develop a compulsive need for whatever controls them, they are addicts! And these kinds of addictions are powerful…and potentially deadly.
Ill never forget a teenaged girl I met on the street in downtown Toronto a few years ago. Jack and I had gone to enjoy a few days of relaxation and rest there, and had gone out for a late-night walk. Summertime Toronto is a very safe and wonderful place to walk, with thousands of other people out enjoying the lights and sights of the city.
When we stopped at a corner to wait for the traffic light to change, this teenager came up to me and said, “I know you-Ive seen you on television.” I greeted her, and we talked for a brief moment. I sensed from her appearance and facial expressions that she probably was part of the drug culture. She told me that sometimes when she couldnt sleep at night, she went over to a store window with a display of television sets and watched our program, “Jack Van Impe Presents….”
Then she asked, “Where are you going, Rexella?
I replied that Jack and I were on our way back to our hotel-that it was about bedtime for us. And I asked, “Are you going home tonight?”
Her answer burned into my very soul-“I am home,” she said, “I live on the street!”
Just then the stoplight changed, and a flood of people surged off the sidewalk into the street, carrying us along with them. Somehow I lost my new friend in the crowd. I looked for her when I got to the corner…I even went back across the street trying to find her. But I never saw her again. The Lord knows where she is-where all of the lost and addicted souls are who are wandering in the dark.
I often think about that teenager and the sad look on her face whenever I pray about the problem of addicts. I hope she watched our telecast again and received words of hope and encouragement, and that the Lord has helped her get off the streets and free from her addiction.
Can we be addicted to good?
According to the dictionary, one of the definitions for addiction could have a positive connotation-“a compelling motivation.” I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was exhibiting when he declared in 1 Corinthians 9:16, Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
He was saying, “I am compelled to share the gospel. There is something about my calling that is so powerful that it is like an addiction. There is nothing else I can do but preach-I cant help it, I must do this.” No wonder he wrote in Romans 1:15, I am ready to preach the gospel….
Pauls calling must have been a “compelling motivation,” because he traveled all over the known world of his day preaching the gospel, making converts, and planting churches. In some areas he was accepted, honored, and lauded, but in many other places he was met with opposition and persecution. No doubt there were plenty of times when he might have turned back had it not been for his addiction to the gospel and carrying out the Great Commission.
Acts 14 relates how unbelievers sought to stone Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, but they escaped and went to preach at Lystra. Then his persecutors did stone Paul there and left him for dead. But he managed to get up and go to Derbe, another city in the area, to preach. After teaching many people there, Paul headed right back to Lystra and Iconium to minister in the very places where people had tried to kill him.
Later Paul listed some of the persecution and trouble he faced in order to carry out his calling. He spoke of being in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
Why would Paul take such risks and endure such pain and hardship? He was an addict to his calling. He had to go, even if it meant facing persecution. “I have to do it,” he said, “for woe is me if I preach not the gospel!”
Paying the price
There is a price to be paid for serving God. Those who are not sold out, soul and body, to their commitment to Christ and their calling to His commission may find the Christian lifestyle too arduous and difficult. Some have turned back and said, “This is not for me.” But many, many others have given their all to the cause of Christ-they became addicts who gave themselves so completely to the Lord that they could do nothing else.
We have a great host of tremendous examples, all the way back to the first disciples. All of them became martyrs for the Lord-they were all murdered for their faith, every single one. And there are other great Christian champions in almost every era.
Some years ago Jack and I were in Europe visiting England, where I was privileged to interview some noted church leaders in that country. During a visit to historic Westminster Abbey, I was particularly drawn to the burial site of David Livingstone, the renowned missionary to Africa.
Livingstone was born into a poor Scottish family, and began working fourteen-hour days in the cotton mill at age 10. He went to night school for two hours after work each day, and would also prop books on his machine so he could study while working. Later he studied medicine and theology in Glasgow, and soon felt called to go to Africa as a missionary.
Asked why he would leave Britain to go to the “dark continent,” where he most likely would give his life and die, Livingstone said simply, “I am compelled by the love of Christ.”
For the next thirty years he served God in Africa as a missionary preacher, physician, scientist, anti-slavery activist, and explorer. He trekked over and mapped an amazing one-third of the continent. When Livingstone died on May 1, 1873, kneeling by his cot in prayer, his faithful African friends buried his heart at the foot of a giant tree, mummified his body and carried it almost a thousand miles to the coast. A ship carried his remains to London, where he was buried in Westminster Abbey on April 18, 1874. That day was an official day of national mourning in England.
When I stood in that famous old church and read the memorial marker for Livingstone, I was impressed by both his total life sacrifice and his remarkable accomplishments for the Lord. “Compelled by the love of Christ,” he helped change the course of history in Africa and strike a powerful blow against slavery world-wide.
Buried next to Livingstone in Westminster Abbey is his brother, John. While David was preparing himself for a lifetime of missionary service, Johns ambition was to find a way to earn lots of money. Apparently he was successful and became very wealthy. I believe he also became a famous cricket player, and enjoyed fame and adulation in addition to his affluent lifestyle.
None of these things were worthy of consideration when Johns memorial marker was inscribed. There is no mention of his wealth, fame, or position. The marker reads simply: John Livingstone, The brother of David Livingstone.”
Isnt that astounding? All of Johns riches and privileged lifestyle amounted to nothing in the end. But David Livingstones addiction to the gospel-being compelled by the love of Christ-will be recognized forever, both here and in heaven.
I live with an addict!
For an example of a person “addicted” to the work of the Lord, let me take you a little closer to home-in fact, to my home. I have had the privilege of spending a lifetime with my dear husband, Dr. Jack Van Impe. And from the beginning of our life together, I realized that he was absolutely an addict when it came to serving the Lord.
For many years we traveled all over the world ministering in churches, later in large community auditoriums, and doing everything possible to win souls to our Lord. In those days we spent far more time on the road than we did at home. It took dedication, hard work, and an all-consuming passion for soul-winning and for giving people hope and comfort in a troubled world.
But thats not all. There is absolutely no way for me to fully describe Jacks determination-no, compulsion!-to memorize the Word of God. For weeks, months, years, he spent hours every day studying handwritten cards with Bible verses written on them. Not only did he memorize each verse and where it was found in the Bible, but also its subject. Thats why today, its not unusual to hear him quote a dozen verses from various parts of the Bible relating to a specific topic. Its amazing, even to me after all these years.
But I know what it cost him-hours and hours and hours of daily study to memorize them…and ongoing hours and hours every year to review and refresh those verses in his mind, even today.
And thats still not all. For many, many years now, Jack has averaged reading at least one book a day, studying the Bible and prophetic topics, as well as history, current events, and international politics. When he speaks so authoritatively on television, applying the Word of God to todays news about events and world leaders, he knows what he is talking about. He is an absolute addict to his ministry!
By the way, Jack and I produce fifty television programs a year, in addition to the videos, books, magazines, and other ministry projects. The average TV sitcom does only twenty-seven or twenty-eight shows per year. Weve been producing fifty programs annually for years. Is the extra work worth it? Absolutely! We get thousands of letters from people who say they prayed the prayer with Jack at the end of the program and accepted Christ into their hearts.
When we go out to a restaurant or a shopping center, were almost always bombarded by people whove seen us on TV and just want to say hello or share a brief testimony. One evening we were stopped nineteen times on a short walk.
Our office has record of more than two million precious people who have come to Christ through the outreaches of Jack Van Impe Ministries. At a time when others might be thinking of slowing down, he still is addicted to helping others open their hearts and lives to our Lord! Full speed ahead!
Are you an addict?
What about you? Even if you are not called to a pulpit ministry, or to minister on television, or in a church setting, I believe God has given you a special gift to share with others. There is a way you can serve the Lord-in fact; there may well be people you can reach with the gospel who might not respond to anyone else in the whole world.
Wherever God has placed you is your mission field! How can you be a witness to those in your world? Are you taking advantage of your unique opportunities to be used of the Lord?
What if you set a goal to share a testimony, a word of witness, or to stand up for what is right at least once each day? You wouldnt have to be a preacher, or have dozens of Bible verses memorized, or be a trained counselor. What if you just shared what God has done in your life? If you are willing to do it, someone will listen!
Become an addict for good, for God…driven by an all-consuming passion to do something-anything-for the Lord today.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I have watched your program for years it lifts my spirit and strengths my faith. I also get a free biblical education. My parents were ministers and my mother still holds a service once a week. Even though, I’ve grown up in church my whole life God will still give us wisdom and knowledge as long as we seek His word and obey Him. I thank you and Mrs. Rexella for your never-ending faith and fighting the good fight to give people of the world God’s truth and standing up publicly for the wrongs you see others doing to our Lord Jesus Christ. I will pray for both of you and your ministry and know in my heart God will continue to bless you.
I love you and Jack. You both pulled me thru many dark times. Ps Thank you so much for declaring that animals go to heaven. I needed to hear it from You so bad!!! You saved me from a pit of anxiety with this declaration. I have shelter animals as my children and will continue to love all furry creatures. I am him joyful hopeful wait that the Rapture will come and gather all of us up furry and human together! Thank you for being such an important part of my life…..
HIGHLIGHTED PRODUCT OFFERS
For anyone who has ever lost a beloved pet, Dr. Jack and Rexella Van Impe have good news! You will see your furry or feathered friends again – in heaven! Explore this exciting truth taught by twelve of the greatest Christian theologians.
You will see and hear the exact spine-tingling statements from the pens of men like Dr. John Walvoord, Dr. Billy Graham, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Dr. John Calvin and many others. This video study deals with animal intelligence, animal communication, and how animals literally teach humans some valuable lessons.
Sir Arnold Toynbee, British historian and the educator, identified alcohol as a major factor in the destruction of nineteen civilizations predating our own.
William Shakespeare worded it this way, “Oh! That men should put an enemy into their mouths to steal away their brains! O God, that we should have joy, pleasure, revel, and applause transform us into beasts!”
Did Toynbee exaggerate? Was Shakespeare an alarmist?
The personal and social implications of problem drinking are vividly described in this biblically relevant and practical analysis of Alcohol: The Beloved Enemy
Recognized as one of America’s foremost Bible authorities, Dr. Jack Van Impe carefully weighs the pros and cons of social drinking for today’s Christians.
Rev. Roger Campbell collaborated with Dr. Van Impe in the writing of this book.