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ARTICLE

"The Case for the Pre-Trib Rapture" - By Don Hill

Those familiar with the study of Bible prophecy will know the term pre-trib rapture is the belief that the church will be raptured before the seven year tribulation that will preceed the thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth.

Prophecy students who disagree with the pre-trib position usually hold either the mid-trib or post trib view believing the church will be caught away halfway through or at the end of the tribulation respectively.

Personally I believe in the pre-trib rapture. Because I conduct Bible Prophecy Conferences, this is what I teach. Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not! There are a few passages of scripture I do not yet understand. But I do know beyond any doubt that the heaviest weight of the scriptures come down on the side of a pre-trib rapture. I also know that no gospel message in the world has brought more souls to Christ and produced more conversions than the message that Jesus could come at any moment and those who are not saved will be left behind!

As I have read the literature and listened to the arguments of those who oppose the pre-trib rapture, two things seem to stand out.

1. When they offer a passage of scripture to prove their point, it is often taken out of context and they sometimes show ignorance when it comes to the principles of Bible interpretation.

2. The arguments they use most often are not Biblical arguments. They are based on either natural human reasoning or outright lies. I will give you an example of each of these.

First argument: Millions of Christians have already suffered incredible tribulation for their faith. Why should we expect to escape?

Answer: This is human reasoning. There is a great difference between the tribulation Christians suffer now and that which will be inflicted upon people during the seven year period. Now it is people persecuting people. Then it will be Almighty God pouring out His wrath upon a world that has rejected His Son. "For then shall be GREAT tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matt 24:21)

Second argument: The idea of a pre-trib rapture was not known in New Testament times. It was invented in the nineteenth century.

Answer: This is an outright lie. It was taught by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thess 4:16-18 with 1 Thess 5:9 and is borne out in many other scriptures. Gradually, the truth of the blessed hope was lost sight of along with other great truths. In or around the year 1828, John N. Darby in England began to study the subject and received light on the matter. He began preaching the imminent return of the Lord to receive His people unto Himself. He was not alone. Others preached it. God was restoring truth to the church. But Mr. Darby did not invent the pre-trib rapture any more than Martin Luther invented justification by faith!

I will share with you Biblical reasons for believing that the catching away - the great evacuation - of the blood washed saints will take place before the seven years begin and the storm clouds of Divine wrath break over planet earth.

(1) THE SEVENTIETH WEEK OF DANIEL
I invite you to open your Bible to Daniel 9 and read verses 24 to 27. You may want to keep your Bible open and within your reach.
It was the sixth century B.C. Daniel was a captive in Babylon along with many other Hebrew people. After a time of prayer, the angel Gabriel appeared to him with a message.

In vs. 24 we read, "Seventy weeks are determined upon they people and upon the holy city, ..." Gabriel is saying that a period of "seventy weeks" have been cut out or blocked off. This time period has to do with Daniel's people (the Jews) and the holy city (Jerusalem). These are weeks of years, not weeks of days. Each week is seven years. This is not fanciful thinking. It is the way the word week was sometimes used in the Old Testament. In Genesis, Laban told Jacob he would have to work another seven years to get his daughter Rachel for his wife. "Fulfill her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years." (Gen 29:27)

This period of seventy weeks (seven years in a week) amounts to 490 years. So when did this time period begin? Gabriel said it was "... from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem ..." (Daniel 9:25). The time King Artaxerxes gave the commandment to Nehemiah for the Jews to return to their own land and restore and build Jerusalem again was the beginning of the seventy weeks or 490 years. This happened in Neh 2. It was the month of Nisan in 445 B.C. according to the Julian calendar. From the signing of the decree until the wall around Jerusalem was restored was seven weeks or 49 years. From then "... unto Messiah, the Prince ..." was another "... three score and two weeks ..." or four hundred and thirty four years. This makes it a total of 483 years from the date King Artaxerxes gave the commandment (signed the decree) for Jerusalem to be restored and built again "... unto Messiah, the Prince ..." According to Sir Robert Anderson in his book THE COMING PRINCE, this takes us to the very day the Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, days before His crucifixion! Then it says in Daniel 9:26 Messiah would be cut off. This completed 69 weeks or 483 years. But wait! There is one week yet to come. It is THE SEVENTIETH WEEK OF DANIEL. It will be the seven year trubulation period. Daniel 9:26 shows the destruction of the City of Jerusalem and the Temple which happened shortly after the death of Christ. But the next verse shows the beginning of the seven year tribulation with the "prince that shall come" (vs. 26) making a covanent with the Jews for "one week" and then breaking it halfway through the week. This is the antichrist signing a treaty with Israel for seven years. He will break it after the first three and a half years. During the first two and a half centuries of the church, the Church Fathers in their writings almost always said the seventieth week of Daniel would be the seven year tribulation period and they placed it at the end of this age. Irenaeus (who lived in the second and third centuries A.D.) placed the appearance of the antichrist at the end of the age in the last week; also Hippolytus (who lived in the second and third centuries A.D.) wrote Daniel "indicates the showing forth of the seven years which shall be in the last times."

How does all this prove that the church will be raptured before the seven year trubulation? Please follow closely now. The ENTIRE seventy weeks of Daniel - ALL of the 490 years - have to do with Daniel's people THE JEWS and the holy city JERUSALEM! Go back and read it in Daniel 9:24. The seventy weeks - the 490 years - have absolutely nothing to do with THE CHURCH. The church was born on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It did not exist during the first sixty nine weeks or 483 years which ended at the crucifixion. It is logical to say the church will not be on earth during the seventieth week (the final week) of Daniel or the last seven years. Why? Because the ENTIRE seventy weeks had to do with the Jews and Jerusalem NOT THE CHURCH. If this applies to the first sixty nine weeks, it would apply to the seventieth week!

(2) IN THE REVELATION THE CHURCH IS SEEN IN HEAVEN, NOT ON EARTH DURING THE SEVEN YEARS

In Chapters 1, 2 and 3, the church is on earth. In Chapters 2 and 3 we have the messages to the seven churches, giving us a picture of the church age.

In Ch. 4:1, the church age ends, and we have a picture of the rapture.

"After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were a trumpet talking with me; and which said, come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter." (Rev 4:1)

Yes, this involved John personally. But the VOICE, the TRUMPET, and the summons to COME UP HITHER, make it a picture of the catching away of the church.

Please follow closely. Ch. 4:1 to Ch. 19:11 covers the seven year period. First I am going to show that the church is not on earth during this time. Second I will show that it is in heaven.

First, the church is not on earth.

In Ch. 2 and 3 during the church age, while the church is on earth, before the trumpet call in Ch. 4:1, God addresses the church. For example "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Rev 2:7)

This is repeated in verses 11, 17, 29, Ch. 3:6, 13 and 22.

Notice God addresses Himself to the churches. It is always "he that hath an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto THE CHURCHES". God is speaking to the church (local congregations) on earth.

But after the trumpet call of Ch. 4:1 who does God address Himself to on earth? Let's look at Ch. 13:9. "If any man have an ear let him hear". It is the same formula, but He's not speaking to the churches, He's speaking to any man. Why? Because the church will not be here.

Second, the church is in heaven during this time.

Ch. 4:4 tell us "And around about the throne where four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold."

The four and twenty elders are the twelve apostles representing the church and the twelve patriots representing the twelve tribes of Israel who will also be raised at the first resurrection. White raiment is the righteous of God. The crowns of gold tell us they have received their rewards. In Ch. 19 we again see the church in heaven, at the marriage supper of the Lamb. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour unto Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready." (Rev 19:7)

We began with the most complex arguments for the pre-trib rapture. We will now present the simpler arguments. Those who do not have a true interest in Bible prophecy have already left us. But he who has ears to hear let him hear.

(3) JESUS TOLD US TO PRAY THAT WE WOULD ESCAPE. HE WOULD NOT TELL US TO PRAY THIS WAY IF HE INTENDED TO LEAVE US HERE.

"Watch ye therefore and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." (Luke 21:36)

(4) THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE SUBJECTED TO THE WRATH OF GOD.

The tribulation period is called the day of God's wrath. The people will say "For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev 6:17) But we do not have an appointment with wrath. We will be saved from it by the rapture. "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess 5:9)

(5) THE GREAT TRIBULATION IS CALLED THE TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE, THAT IS, THE TIME OF THE JEW'S TROUBLE.

"Alas for that day is great, so that none is like unto it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." (Jer 30:7)

It is the time of Jacob's trouble.

It is not the time of the church's trouble.

Note: Please pay attention to the wording. Jacob shall be saved "out of it". In other words, God will bring the Jewish people through this terrible time. But make a comparison. The church will not be saved out of it. God says to the church "Because 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." (Rev 3:10)

Jacob will be saved OUT of it.

The church will be kept FROM it.

(6) WE ARE SUPPOSE TO BE LOOKING FOR CHRIST TO APPEAR

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:13) Only those who believe the Lord's coming is imminent are looking for Him. If I knew a guest was going to arrive at my home on Friday, I would not be looking for him before that time. On Monday I would know I had another three days to clean house and set things in order. Not so with the rapture! It is the fact that Jesus could come at any time that motivates us to get ready and stay ready! This is what makes it a purifying hope. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure." (1 John 3:3)

(7) JUST AS GOD WOULD NOT RAIN FIRE AND BRIMSTONE UPON SODOM UNTIL LOT WAS OUT AND A SAFE DISTANCE AWAY, SO GOD WILL NOT POUR OUT HIS WRATH UPON THIS WORLD UNTIL THE CHURCH IS OUT AND SAFE WITH HIM.

The angel (there is some reason to believe this angel was God Himself) said to Lot "Haste thee, escape hither; for I cannot do any thing til thou be come hither." (Gen 19:22) Imagine! God is actually saying "Lot, you're tying my hands. Hurry. I can't destroy this place until you're gone." Do you think Christ's covenant relationship with His blood bought bride today is any less than His care for Lot?

"But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Luke 17:29-30)

Three things stand out in these verses and they stand together. a) Lot went out of Sodom b) Fire and brimstone fell from heaven c) This is how it will be when Christ appears.

(8) WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST IN THIS WORLD. BEFORE A NATION DECLARES WAR AGAINST ANOTHER NATION, IT WITHDRAWS ITS AMBASSADORS.

Paul wrote "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ..." (11 Cor 5:20) Every Christian in this church age is an ambassador for Him. Not everyone realizes the responsibility. Not all are faithful to the charge. The church age ambassadors have a unique roll. They speak for their King. Not only do they share the gospel, they are inviting men and women to be the body of Christ now and the bride of Christ for eternity. This is the unique place the church has in the plan and purposes of God. It was not shared by the Old Testament saints and will not be shared by the tribulation saints. It is a limited time offer and will end when the ambassadors leave.

Before heaven declares war against planet earth and His wrath is poured out upon the nations, God will withdraw the church age ambassadors. We will be removed by means of the rapture and taken to a safe place until the troubles on earth are over. After the rapture, the gospel will be preached on earth by a hundred and forty four thousand Jewish evangelists. A great multitude which no man can number out of all nations will wash their garments and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.

To ask how the hundred and forty four thousand will get saved is a fair question. Possibly they were witnessed to by Christians before the rapture. Maybe they read their Bibles or God may have revealed Himself to them as He did to Saul on the road to Damascus.

Another question we hear is "How can anybody get saved if the Holy Spirit has been taken out of the world?" Thanks for asking: The Bible does not say the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the world. He was in the world during the Old Testament times and during the time of the Gospels. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was "sent" or "poured out" upon those who believed in Christ. At that time He was "given" to the church. This is not to say He was not at work in the world previous to Pentecost. However, the Bible does say the Holy Spirit will be "... taken out of the way." (11Thess 2:7) or moved aside. This means when the church is raptured, the Holy Spirit will no longer be the restrainer holding back satan and the forces of evil in the world. One of the ways - perhaps the most important way - He does this now is by indwelling believers and causing them to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Without the salt there will be corruption. Without the light, there will be darkness.

(9) THE ANTICHRIST CANNOT BE REVEALED UNTIL THE RESTRAINER IS TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY

"The secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so til He is taken out of the way. And then shall the lawless one be revealed,..." (11 Thess 2:7-8 NIV)

As we have already noted, it is the Holy Spirit in the church - indwelling believers - who is restraining or holding back satan in our world today. When the church is gone, the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way. He will not be taken out of the world, but His work of holding back corruption and darkness by making believers the salt of the earth and the light of the world, will be ended. A flood tide of evil will engulf the earth.

Only when the restrainer is taken out of the way can the antichrist be revealed. Then he will make a covenant with Israel for one week or seven years. "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week..." (Daniel 9:27) This shows that the rapture must take place at the beginning of the seven years not half way through or at the end! After the first three and a half years, the antichrist will break his covenant with the Jews. He will stop them from offering the sacrifices in the temple. "... in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, ..." (Daniel 9:27) He will sit in the temple and announce that he himself is God and demand that the world worship him. "He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God." (11 Thess 2:4 NIV) At this time the mark of the beast will be forced upon mankind. The antichrist will require everybody to receive his mark to show that they worship him. "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, except he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." (Rev 13:16-17) This will plunge the world into unprecedented horror. "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matt 24:21)

At the end of the seven year period, the Lord Jesus will return in power and great glory to the earth to establish His kingdom for a thousand years. The Bible says He will destroy the antichrist "... with the brightness of His coming." (11 Thess 2:8) At this time, the antichrist, along with the false prophet, and all who have worshipped the antichrist and received his mark, will be cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 19:20 and Rev 14:11)



PASTORS DON & SARAH HILL
Office: 705-325-8964
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 523, Orillia, Ontario Canada L3V 6K2
Website Address: www.livinghopeministries.ca
Email: PastorHill@livinghopeministries.ca


Email Pastor Don Hill






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