6. But What About . . .
Imminency? · Mortals in the Kingdom? · Revelation 3:10? · Revelation 4:1-2? · The Sheep and the Goats? The Wheat and the Tares? · Daniel's Seventieth Week? - for Israel Only? · John 14:1-3? · Revelation 19 and 20? · The Two Mountain Peaks? · Necessary Time Interval? · No Church in Revelation 4-19? · Doesn't Post-Tribulationism Make Everybody Lukewarm?
Webster: imminent Ė
1. likely to occur at any moment; impending
2. projecting or leaning forward; overhanging1
I had to use an English dictionary here, since the Bible never uses the word imminent in relation to the Lordís coming. The teaching of imminency is based upon passages of Scripture which describe his coming as something we are to expect, as if it could be soon. The question then becomes whether this is an any-moment coming (meaning 1) or an overhanging, possibly-in-the-near-future coming (meaning 2). If we define imminent by meaning 2, then post-tribulationists have no problem with the term.
Jesus said that no man knows the day nor the hour of his return (Matt. 24:36; 25:13; Mark 13:32). He also said that, at least to some, it would come unexpectedly (Matt. 24:44; Luke 12:40). He also exhorted believers to "watch" for his coming (Matt. 24:42; 25:13; Mark 13:35, 37; Luke 21:36). I believe that this is what most people have in mind when you mention the Lordís imminent return. A good pre-tribulationist, however, will not appeal to these passages to support his doctrine, because these are all in reference to the post-tribulational second coming. This is seen in one of the classic books on pre-tribulation dispensationalism, Things to Come, under the title "The Doctrine of Imminence," where the only passage Pentecost gives to support imminency from the gospels is John 14:2-3.2 The other passages he appeals to are Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Tim. 6:14; Jas. 5:8 and 2 Peter 3:3-4.3 I would like to look at each of these passages and see if they demand an "any-moment" coming.
Although I will return to discuss other implications of this passage later, John 14:2-3 in no way implies that this return must be at any moment. Jesus simply states, "I am going, but I will be back." Even if this was referring to a pre-tribulational coming, it need not be "at any moment."
Acts 1:11 states that after Jesus was taken up into the sky, the disciples continued to look up into heaven. Then the angels who were standing by told them Jesus would one day "come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven." I believe the idea is that, just as he ascended from the earth up into the sky, he would one day come back from the sky down to this earth. If anything, this sounds like a post-tribulational coming. The fact that the disciples were told that Jesus would one day return is no different from what he had been telling them himself. Unless Pentecost is referring to the fact that they are left gazing up into heaven, (which suggests more their amazement with what just transpired than the idea that they expected him immediately to come back down), I see nothing in this passage which implies an any moment return.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 does not teach an any-moment return but rather states that at the resurrection those who are still alive will be changed instantly: "we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye."
Philippians 3:20 states that we "eagerly await" for the return of the Lord. The point Pentecost is trying to make is that we would not "eagerly await" for an event which we knew could not happen at any moment. The problem with this is that this same word, apekdexomai, is used of God waiting for Noah to finish building the ark (1 Peter 3:20). Obviously God did not expect him to be done at "any moment."
Colossians 3:4 says that "when Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." This says nothing about the nearness of the event but simply states that when Jesus is revealed to the world, we also will be revealed with him in glory.4 Actually, that fact that we will be revealed with him seems to demand a post-tribulational setting. It is after the Tribulation that Jesus Christ will be revealed to the world in all his glory and it is the hope of the believer to take part in this event as well (Rom. 8:19; 2 Thess. 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:13).
In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Paul mentions how the Thessalonians had turned to God to serve him and "to wait for His Son from heaven." This is similar to the argument used in Philippians 3:20, but, since this word is found only here in the New Testament, I will have to refer to the SeptuagintĖthe Greek translation of the Old TestamentĖfor comparison. It is found only a handful of times there as well, where the meaning also seems to be "to wait" with some expectation, but one verse of particular interest is Job 7:2. Here Job speaks of a "hired man who eagerly waits for his wages." Obviously a hired man would be anxious to receive his wages but would not expect them at "any moment."
In 1 Timothy 6:14, Paul urges Timothy to "keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." Apparently what Pentecost is implying is that if Timothy had known that there would be a time period before the Lord came back, then he would not have kept the commandment "without stain or reproach." This is a common idea which pre-tribulationists use to discredit post-tribulationism and to support imminency. The idea is that imminency urges us to holy living while post-tribulationism leads people to grow cold. I will discuss this in the next chapter, but let it suffice to say that I think Timothy had enough love for God to live for him whether he was to return at any moment or was going to be a while. Paulís point in this passage is that our struggle is over once Jesus comes back. This is when we will receive glorified bodies, and sin will no longer have power over us.5
James 5:8 states that "the coming of the Lord is near." Well, was it truly near or was James simply telling them this so that they would be constantly expecting it? Obviously the latter is ridiculous. In some real way, the coming of the Lord was near to them. Jesus says that he is coming quickly four times in the book of Revelation and yet it has already been close to two thousand years and he still has not come. Peter addresses this dilemma in 2 Peter 3:3-4, and answers it directly in verses 8 and 9: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." I believe that the idea is that in the scope of eternity this really is a short time.
Furthermore, to say that the coming of the Lord is near still does not require an "any moment" coming. It is no wonder that Pentecost did not quote the preceding verse, "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains" (5:7). Jamesí point here seems to be the exact opposite. We are to expect a delay, but we should still be patient.
Now, since Pentecost also uses the 2 Peter passage to support an any-moment rapture, we must address it as well. This passage states that in the last days mockers will be saying, "Where is the promise of his coming?" (2 Peter 3:3-4). I fail to see how this requires an imminent coming but could easily see why people would be saying this who had been taught a pre-tribulation rapture. Once the Tribulation has begun, and Christians are still here who had been telling everyone that they wouldnít be, I could easily see mockers come and say, "Oh, really? What happened?"
Also, if teaching that certain events must be fulfilled before the Lord returns in is opposition to some fundamental truth then no prophecy in the New Testament would be possible. Jesus told Peter that he would die as an old man by crucifixion (John 21:18-19). He also told the disciples to go and preach the gospel to all nations (Matt. 28:19-20), which would require a considerable amount of time. Paul said that in latter times some would depart from the faith and teach false doctrines (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Peter also prophesied that later there would be false teachers "among you" (ie. in the church) whom many would follow (2 Peter 2:1-2). None of this could be possible if they were expecting the Lord to return at any moment. They expected more time to transpire before the coming of the Lord.
Returning to what I said in the beginning, most people think of Jesusí statements about no man knowing when he will return and his exhortations to watch for him when they think of imminency.6 However, since these are in clear reference to the second coming after the Tribulation, this is a problem for pre- and post-tribulationists alike. It is difficult to explain how the second coming could be "imminent" when we know it will take place exactly seven years after the Tribulation begins.
However, this is more of a problem for pre-tribulationists because they use imminency to support their position, and Jesusí description of the second coming is more "imminent" than any which they claim as reference to the rapture. In other words, their doctrine is self defeating. If they reject post-tribulationism because of the fact that the rapture is imminent, then they must explain how the second coming, after the Tribulation, could also be imminent. Post-tribulationists must deal with these passages as well, but, since we donít rely on imminency to defend our position, leaving them as an unknown mystery neither helps nor hurts us.
However, I will attempt to reconcile this the best that I can. First, it seems possible that the day will only come unexpectedly on unbelievers and those who are not watching. In fact, this is why Jesus exhorts us to watch. In his parable about the fig tree he states that just as you know summer is near by watching the leaves on the tree, "so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door" (Matt. 24:33). When he said "watch," he obviously didnít mean to literally look up in the sky watching for his return. Rather, it seems that he meant "watch for the signs which will be taking place." In another parable he told the disciples that "if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into" (v. 43). It was as though he were saying, "You donít know, but you should know," or "It is not possible to know now, but as that day approaches it will become evident to those who are watching." Paul said that the day of the Lord would overtake the world "like a thief," but, since the believers were of the light, it would not overtake them "like a thief" (1 Thess. 5:2-4). Jesus told the church at Sardis that, "if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you" (Rev. 3:3, NKJV).
Finally, as was discussed previously, it seems that Paulís primary reason for writing 2 Thessalonians was to refute the idea that the day of the Lord could now be present (2:2).7 He says emphatically that that day will not come until the man of sin is revealed and the great apostasy takes place (2:3). Also, as I said before, the plain reading of the first two verses is that he connects his coming and our gathering with the day of the Lord.8 This would completely exclude a pre-tribulation rapture.
Mortals in the Kingdom?
Another argument which pre-tribulationists use to refute post-tribulationism is that, if all believers are raptured after the Tribulation, and all unbelievers are killed, then from where do the mortals come to populate the kingdom? However, first it must be demonstrated that all unbelievers are killed. Revelation 19:21 states that after the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, "the rest were killed with the sword." On the surface this seems to support their view, but a closer look will show that in context "the rest" refers to "the kings of the earth and their armies" (v. 19), not every living person on the earth. Even so, it is more likely that this means that the rest who were killed were killed with the sword. In other words, the antichrist and the false prophet were thrown into the lake of fire alive, but he used the sword on the others.
Also, concerning the Millennium, Zechariah 14:16 reads, "Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths." Here are people who had gone to war against Jerusalem and are now living in the Millennium. The fact that they were fighting Jerusalem shows us that they were not Christians. I see no other conclusion but that these were unbelievers who lived in the Tribulation and are now in the Millennium.
Furthermore, Daniel states that the other three beasts (kingdoms) which he saw were allowed to live after Christ returns and the antichrist is destroyed (Daniel 7:11-12). These are kingdoms which are on the earth while the antichrist is and yet live on into the Millennium.9 These are also distinguished from the kingdom which is given to "the saints" (vv. 17-18). In fact, this book is very clear that all other kingdoms will serve and obey this kingdom (vv. 14, 26-27). It seems from these two passages, then, that nations or "kingdoms" will live on into the Millennium and be subject to the kingdom and rule of Christ.
Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. [Rev. 3:10]
This has been said to be one of the most disputed passages concerning the rapture question. I have read countless pages in which scholars from both sides trace the meaning of the words tereo and ek, "I will keep you from," from classical Greek, through the Septuagint and the New Testament and on through the patristic writings. The question has been whether the idea of emergence on account of a prior existence is in view or whether it refers to keeping the believers in a position outside of the field of testing.
I avoid the discussion all together because I see no reason to apply this verse to us. Seven times John is instructed to write a specific message to a specific church, "to the angel of the church in . . ." He then writes a message which pertains particularly to them and follows it with an exhortation to anybody who has at least one ear. (This would even include Van Gogh.) This pattern is followed seven times. We would not apply the prophecy to the church at Smyrna to us which says, "Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (2:10). This is obviously written to a specific church in a specific time. The rules of grammatical-historical interpretation (which pre-tribulationists emphasize so strongly) demand such an interpretation.
One interpretation that many pre-tribulationists appeal to states that not only were these literal churches but that they also represent successive "church ages" (which does not grow out of the grammatical-historical method but is quite allegorical). Now even if this were true, it would still be a secondary meaning, and they would first need to explain how this promise was fulfilled to the literal church at Philadelphia. First we see how they were "kept from" the hour of trial; then we can discuss how we will be kept from it. Furthermore, this promise is one based on merit: "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you . . ." (emphasis added). It was not a universal promise to all the churches but was to you (singular in the Greek), Philadelphia.
Also, the analogies do not hold up very well. For instance, Tim Lahaye puts Smyrna as the "persecuted church" (100-312),10 the time when believers were being put to death for their faith, but it is in the church at Pergamum where Antipas, the Lordís faithful martyr, is killed. I also find it interesting that he connects Sardis, which he calls the "dead church," with the church of the Reformation. Also, Thyatira is connected with the medieval church (the most corrupt point in history), but the Lord actually gives them much praise (except for Jezebel).
Another problem with this view is that nobody wants to be Laodicea. If Philadelphia is the church of the rapture then you have a church in the Tribulation. Although Jesus does say that the church at Laodicea is "lukewarm," he still calls them a church and addresses them just like the others, finishing as usual with a promise to "him who overcomes." Also, every church except Sardis and Philadelphia was rebuked, not just Laodicea.
 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things."  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. [Rev. 4:1-2]
Although this is being abandoned today, some pre-tribulationists have used this verse as symbolic of the rapture of the church. They then conclude that, since John sees the Tribulation after this, then the rapture of the church must be before the Tribulation. First of all, it would not be possible for John to be taken to heaven after these things took place, since he had to be in heaven to see them. Of necessity, he had to have been taken up before. Also, most pre-tribulationists see the twenty-four elders as also being the church. If John represents the rapture, then why are the elders already present and seated when he arrives?
In addition, it seems that when John is first taken up he is taken into eternity. He obviously was not taken up to heaven in his own time. Jesus told his disciples that in his kingdom they would be seated on thrones around him (Matt. 19:28). Also, the fact that "every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them" (Rev. 5:13) is here worshipping God would seem to demand that this be in eternity, when "all things are subjected to Him" (1 Cor. 15:28). I believe that he begins in eternity, and a drama is enacted before him in which they are going back and reliving what took place. In other words, they are telling the story once again of how things got to be they way they now are.
Also, the description of what takes place doesnít line up too well with Paulís description of the rapture. Instead of Jesus appearing in the sky, John merely sees a door open in heaven. We can not be gathered together to meet Jesus if he isnít there. John does not actually hear a trumpet but he hears a voice which is like a trumpet, which is how he had already described the voice of Jesus (1:10).
Finally, it seems that Jesus tells John why he is being taken up, so that he could "show you what must take place after these things."11 Paul experienced a similar event and even used the same word used to describe the "catching away" (harpadzo) of the church and no one claims that this is the rapture (2 Cor. 12:2-4). The fact in both cases is that they were merely taken up to heaven in order to see things take place in heaven.12
The Sheep and the Goats? The Wheat and the Tares?
Jesus taught that after he returns he would separate the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:30-46), the wheat from the tares (13:24-30, 36-43), or the good fish from the bad fish (13:47-50). He also said that the sheep would inherit the kingdom, and the goats would be thrown into eternal fire. If everyone is included in one of these two groups, and if this takes place immediately after he returns, then we are back to the question: "Where do the mortals come from to populate the kingdom?"13 This is complicated by some other issues.
First of all, Jesus also said that no one can enter the kingdom who has not been born of water and Spirit (John 3:5), and Paul said that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (1 Cor. 15:50). So if only born again, immortal believers can inherit the kingdom and everyone else is destroyed then this is just as much of a problem for pre-tribulationists. Second, the result of this judgment is eternal. Jesus said to the goats, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41). The fire prepared for the devil and his angels is undoubtedly the "lake of fire" in Revelation 20. This is where the devil is destined to go. The problem is that this judgment does not take place until after the Millennium is completed (Rev. 20). He also said that the wicked would "go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:46). Once again, where are the mortals in this scenario?
So I am suggesting two possibilities: 1). Not everyone is included in this judgment; 2). This is the same as the Great White Throne judgment, which takes place after the Millennium. Both of these options leave some unanswered questions but less than the pre-tribulationistsí position. Either way, simply because one position solves some of the difficulties of the other does not make it correct. This can only be used as supporting evidence once the teaching is established elsewhere (which hopefully is where the Bible speaks directly to the subject).14
Danielís Seventieth Week? Ė for Israel Only?
It is not uncommon to hear pre-tribulationists state that Danielís seventieth week (the Tribulation) pertains to Israel or that this time period is for Israel (Daniel 9:24-27). They claim that because of this the church must be gone before this time period begins. Also, based on Romans 11:25-27, they say that the church will be on earth until the "fullness of the Gentiles has come in" but that after this God will turn back to Israel and begin dealing with them again.
It is true that Gabrielís message to Daniel was about Israel, Godís people at this time. What would we expect? The church did not exist yet. But this alone does not require that the church leave the earth before God can fulfil his promise to Israel. I think God is big enough to do two things at once. God has already begun dealing with Israel and fulfilling promises he made to them. Just the fact that there is an Israel today is the fulfillment of prophecy. At the end of many of the books of the prophets in the Old Testament, God promised Israel that after they had been dispersed for a time he would bring them back to their homeland from various parts of the world. On May 14, 1948, Israel was once again declared to be a nation. God kept his promise. Therefore, since God is dealing with both Israel and the church right now, and both are on the earth, then what would preclude Israel and the church from coexisting during the Tribulation?
Second, concerning the passage in Romans, I fail to see how a pre-tribulation rapture could be when the "fullness of the Gentiles has come in," since multitudes of Gentiles will be saved during the Tribulation (Rev. 7:9-14). But Paul answers this dilemma in the same passage. He states that once the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, "all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11: 26). He then states how this will happen, "The deliverer will come from Zion, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins." (26-27). So when does the deliverer come from Zion and remove ungodliness from Jacob? This is a reference to the return of Christ after the Tribulation. Right up until he comes back, Gentiles may still "come in" and be saved.
 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. [John 14:1-3]
It has been argued from this passage that when Jesus comes for the church he will take us to heaven. It therefore follows that this can not be his post-tribulational second coming where he comes to the earth. This is a good example of the inconsistency with pre-tribulationism. Jesus is talking to his disciples, the same people he addresses in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25). The only reason pre-tribulationists conclude that this passage applies to the church but the Olivet Discourse does not is the bias which they bring to the passage.
However, a close look will show that he does not say that he will take them to heaven when he returns. He only states that he is leaving to go build them a house but that he will return so that they will all be together again. The question, then, is where will he be at his return? Now I readily admit that if this was the only verse in the Bible which described the Lordís return, I would assume that he was saying that he was going to take us to heaven when he comes back. However, it does not demand such a meaning. When we interpret this passage in light of the many other passages which describe his coming as a return to the earth, then there is no problem seeing the same thing here. All that is required is that he and the disciples be together after he returns.
Also, it would seem strange for him to tell them about this house which they would go to live in when he comes, if they would live there seven years only to vacate it for a thousand. He does not present the New Jerusalem to his bride until after the Millennium (Rev. 21:2). What Jesus is doing here is discussing events which will take place in the future but not at the same time. Although he does not specify the "gap," he does leave room for it.
Revelation 19 and 20?
Revelation 19 describes the second coming of Jesus Christ. Revelation 20 mentions the resurrection of believers. Since the rapture and resurrection of church saints takes place with Christ in the air, pre-tribulationists claim that this passage requires a separate event. If the resurrection takes place after Christ comes, then they would be right. However, a closer look will show that John does not actually tell us when the resurrection happens. It seems that when he sees those who had been beheaded for Christ they are already alive.
Some translations say that at this point they "came to life" (ingressive aorist), while others simply say that they "lived" (constative aorist). Both translations are possible, so this is a matter of interpretation. However, since ebasileusan, "they reigned," is definitely a constative aorist,15 it is likely that "lived and reigned" is one thought. In other words John is saying that they "lived and reigned" with Christ for a thousand years.
The Two Mountain Peaks?
Some pre-tribulationists see the point I have been trying to make that the Bible does not teach two different comings but that the writers of Scripture only saw one event. Their answer to this is that prophets would sometimes see two events as one, the way that two mountain peaks appear to be right next to each other from a distance but are really far apart when you get closer. This is seen in Old Testament prophecies of Jesusí suffering and reigning. Now I agree that this phenomenon does appear in Scripture and have used this argument in my discussion of John 14:1-3. Although I didnít mention it, I also think this is a possibility for Jesusí parables about the wheat and tares, good and bad fish, and the sheep and the goats.
However, when this happens the "gap" is only discovered after the fact or when it is later revealed in Scripture. The separation of Jesusí return and the Great White Throne judgment by one thousand years is not taught until the book of Revelation. Therefore, if PaulĖwho is the only one who taught the "catching away" of the churchĖdid not see that this was a separate event, then where else is it revealed in Scripture? If the writers of the New Testament did not see two comings, then how can we?
Also, when this phenomenon of the two mountain peaks does occur, even though Scripture does not state that there is a gap, it does leave room for one. I do not believe that the passages which we have discussed do this. For example, as I already stated, Paul told the believers at Thessalonica that they would receive their rest when Jesus comes in flaming fire, taking vengeance (2 Thess. 1:7-8). Jesus specifically stated that his return would be after the Tribulation (Matt. 24:29-30), and I have tried to show that this is the same event which Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
Necessary Time Interval?
Pre-tribulationists claim that there must be a time interval between the Lordís coming for his church and his return to earth in order for the rewarding of the saints and the marriage to take place. As far as the rewards go, I think Revelation 11:18 makes it abundantly clear that the rewarding of the saints takes place after Jesus returns to set up his kingdom. Jesus himself taught that at least part of the rewards would consist of levels of rulership in the kingdom (Luke 19:16-19). In no passage which mentions rewards for the saints do I see the need for this to take place before Christ returns. On the contrary, Paul calls our reward "the reward of the inheritance" (Col. 3:24) and at least part of our inheritance is the kingdom of God (Matt. 25:34; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 15:50; Gal. 5:21).
As for the marriage, I do not see why this needs to take place before the second coming either. In fact, in Revelation 19:7, right when Jesus is about to return, we are told that "the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." It seems here that she is ready for the Lamb to return so that she can get married. In 19:9, an angel tells John to write, "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper [deipnon] of the Lamb." The only other time we find this word in the book of Revelation is after his return in verse 17 when an angel is inviting birds to the great supper (deipnon) of God.
No Church in Revelation 4-19?
Another reason some argue for a pre-tribulation rapture is that John does not use the word ekklesia "church" in Revelation 4-19 when he is describing the Tribulation. My first response to this is that John also sees scenes in heaven as well as on earth. If the church is in heaven, then why doesnít he see them there? Also, he does not use the word ekklesia in Revelation 19-22:15 either. This time period describes the return of the Lord, the marriage to his bride, his millennial kingdom and eternity. We would expect to see the church here as well. However, in all of Johnís writings16 he never uses the word ekklesia to refer to the universal body of believers but only to the individual assembly. John does, however, speak of the "saints" throughout the book of Revelation. And, as we have discussed earlier, at the close of the book of Revelation, Jesus says that these things were written for the benefit of "the churches" (Rev. 22:16).17
Doesnít Post-Tribulationism Make Everybody Lukewarm?
The argument is that pre-tribulationism keeps everybody "on their toes," whereas post-tribulationism leads towards a lukewarm lifestyle. Well, I am a post-tribulationist and as I consider that I may one day suffer persecution and possibly even give my life for my faith in Christ, "lukewarm" is hardly the attitude which comes to mind. However, how people may respond is not the way in which we determine what is truth. Many people have set dates for the rapture in the past. Some took this seriously and adjusted their behavior accordingly.18 However, just because it had a positive result does not make it true. I could just as easily argue that because of pre-tribulationism many people figure that theyíll just wait and see what happens, and, if they miss the first boat, theyíll just catch the second one. I think that Jesus warned us of the Tribulation so that we would prepare to endure this difficult time.
1. Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (New York: Gramercy Books, 1996), 957. <back>
2. Pentecost, 203. <back>
3. Actually, Pentecost lists 1 Peter 3:3-4, which has nothing to do with the return of the Lord. I assume he meant 2 Peter. <back>
4. For the discussion on how we are caught up only to return and be revealed to the earth, see chapter 5, To Meet. <back>
5. See especially 1 Corinthians 15:53-57. <back>
6. One of these is of particular interest. In Revelation 16:15, immediately before the seventh bowl is poured out at the very end of the Tribulation, Jesus says "Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame" (NKJV). The is the terminology so often connected with the church waiting for his return, yet this is at the close of the Tribulation, right before the second coming. <back>
7. Or "at hand," see chapter 8, Present or Imminent? <back>
8. See the discussion in chapter 2, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. <back>
9. Some have thought that these beasts only represent ancient kingdoms, such as in chapter 2. I fail to see how this could be if Daniel says that they are alive while the fourth beast (antichrist) is and even live on after he is destroyed (vv. 11-12). <back>
10. Tim Lahaye, Revelation Illustrated and Made Plain, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1975), 8. <back>
11. The NET Bible even translates this as, "Come up here so that I can show you what must happen after these things" (emphasis added). <back>
12. Or hear things in Paul's case. <back>
13. See Mortals in the Kingdom, preceding section. <back>
14. For example, amillennialism answers many of the difficulties with premillennialism but must be rejected because it is not the teaching of Scripture. <back>
15. John is definitely not saying that their reign began for a thousand years, which would be the alternative. <back>
16. The gospel of John, 1, 2 and 3 John and Revelation. <back>
17. Here the plural "churches" is used as a collection of the individual assemblies to whom this book was written (as it is in 1:4). <back>
18. When I was young and naive, I myself was affected by the 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 scare. <back>