Seeing Through a
Glass, Darkly. . .
the Shadows That Frighten Us
Focus on Jerusalem
is pleased to present this excellent article on the Rapture and the Tribulation
era, written by Jack Kinsella, author and editor of the Omega Letter. In these
Last Days, it is imperative for Christians to be knowledgeable of and about the
supernatural warfare that is ongoing around us. The Bible says that perilous
times shall come in the Last Days, and that the forces of darkness will gain the
ascendancy in this world as the restrainer of evil and deception is gradually
withdrawn. As Jack says in his article, it is the lurking shadows of the
Antichrist and the Day of Trouble that frighten many Christians, but we need not
to fear, for Christ has overcome the world. (04-14-2006)
The timing of the Rapture is easily one of the most divisive issues within the Body
of the Christ, and something I find extremely interesting. It would seem to me
that the issue of when He is coming is important only in understanding the signs
of the times, but not terribly important in terms of salvation or issues of
eternity, or even in terms of living a Spirit-filled life.
It is the belief in Who is
coming, and the certainty of His return that defines one as a Christian.
The timing of that event itself, is largely one of academics.
That being said, we ARE
students of Bible prophecy; watchmen on the wall, as I view it, and the
timing of the Rapture is extremely important to understanding the signs of the
We continue to see evidence all
around us, and we use that evidence to warn and be aware of His soon return. To
us, understanding the Rapture is understanding how to rightly divide the Word of
Truth. The key to this is understanding the concept of Dispensationalism and the
division between the Age of the Law, the Age of Grace (Church Age) and the
Tribulation (Daniel's 70th Week).
Dispensationalism teaches that
the Dispensation of Grace (Church Age) concludes with the secret Rapture of the
Church, followed by the final 7 years of the Age of the Law. During the
Tribulation, the Temple is rebuilt, Temple sacrifice reinstituted, and the price
of salvation is martyrdom at the hands of the antichrist. (Tribulation Saints)
There are three basic
interpretations of the Rapture; pre-Tribulatonal, mid-tribulational and
Pre-Trib holds to
the view the Lord returns BEFORE the Tribulation.
that the Rapture of the Church will occur in the middle of the 7 year
tribulation period. It will occur sometime around the abomination of desolation
when the anti-Christ goes into the rebuilt Jewish temple and there claim to be
view teaches that as the Lord Jesus is returning back to earth, God's people
will be 'caught up' or raptured at that point in time. They will return to earth
with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each of these views can be
supported, to some degree, by Scripture, but only one is correct. I believe the
Scriptural evidence overwhelmingly favors a Pre-Trib Rapture of the Church.
One of the problems with a
mid-Trib view is glaring; it denies the doctrine of imminency. Although the
Scriptures teach a SECRET coming, (no man knoweth the day or hour) once the
Tribulation begins, one just has to sit down with a calendar and count down
1,250 days from the day the antichrist shuts down Temple worship. (Daniel 12:11)
It would therefore be no
surprise and it will come at a known time, in direct conflict with the teachings
of Jesus. (Matthew 24:36)
Another problem with the
mid-Trib Rapture view is that its followers aren't looking for Christ, they are
watching for the anti-Christ, from whom they derive their timetable.
By contrast, I am awaiting
Jesus Christ. I never expect to know who the antichrist will be, and frankly, I
don't really care. My purpose, to the degree I even discuss the antichrist in
your Omega Letter, is to demonstrate how the world is preparing for his coming,
and to remind people that Jesus is coming FIRST!
The mid-Tribulation view is not
widely followed for these reasons, among others.
The post-Tribulation view
shares the same glaring problem as the mid-Tribbers; the denial of imminency. It
will be even easier to pinpoint the return of Christ, given the Bible gives the
exact number of days between the 'abomination of desolation' (Matthew 24:15; 2nd
Thessalonians 2:4) and the return of the Messiah.
"And from the time that the
daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate
set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days." (Daniel 12:11)
Compare that to Jesus' Words;
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my
Father only. " (Matthew 24:36)
If the post-Trib view is
correct, that secret is hidden only until the revelation of antichrist. So it
shares the same second flaw with the mid-Trib view; both of these
interpretations make the coming of antichrist the seminal event in prophecy,
with the secret coming of Christ for His Church a secondary Plan.
The post-Tribulation view also
doesn't pass the logic test. The post-Trib interpretation is that Jesus Raptures
the Church, who then return with Him at the Battle of Armageddon. "And the
armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine
linen, white and clean." (Revelation 19:14) The 'fine linen, white and clean'
are the garments of those Washed in the Blood of the Lamb.
So, Jesus leaves heaven with
'ten thousands' of empty white horses. As He descends, God's people are
Raptured, presumably translated from this earth to the back of a white horse on
its way back!
Scripture tells us that, as the
return of the Lord for His Church draws near, it will be as in the days of Lot
and Noah. Noah warned of impending judgment for 120 years without a single
convert. Life went on as normal, until the floods came, and 'took them all
away'. (Matthew 24:39)
Similarly, Lot lived in a big
city, surrounded by immorality so repugnant to God that He decided to judge the
wicked city with Divine judgement. Lot was secretly removed from the
unsuspecting city before judgment was executed. But to the inhabitants of Sodom
and Gomorrah, life went on as usual until the moment of judgment fell.
Consider the consequences of
the Tribulation Period. Widespread death and destruction, the annihilation of
3/4's of the human race, miraculous judgments like the sea turned to blood and a
ruined ecology, disease, famine and catastrophe . . . hardly fits with the days
of Lot OR Noah.
"And as it was in the days of
Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they
drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe
entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all." (Luke
The next problem with this view
is what happens next. According to Scripture, the earth is repopulated during
the Millennial Kingdom period.
If all God's people are
raptured as the Lord Jesus returns, that will leave only the wicked on earth
when He returns. The wicked will be destroyed as they will NEVER inherit the
kingdom of God.
So if the wicked are destroyed
and God's people are all raptured, then who will be left to enter into the 1000
year Kingdom? When people go into the 1000 year kingdom they will not have their
eternal bodies but will be just like we are today. They will marry and have
children. After the rapture all God's people will have their eternal bodies
leaving no mortals left on earth to go into the 1000 year kingdom.
The post-Trib view is widely
received, despite its problems. It's adherents generally also believe that
Israel plays no important role in the last days, since the promises of God to
Israel were passed on to the Church after the Jews rejected their Messiah.
That is also one of the reasons
that post-Tribulationists are so hostile to Dispensationalists and
pre-Tribulationists; our 'wrong-headed' support for Israel based on our belief
that God has a Plan for Israel that doesn't include the Church. It explains the
blatantly anti-Semitic nature of many mainstream churches. It is at the root of
the 'Christian anti-semitism' that was responsible for centuries of persecution
of the Jews by the Church.
It explains the 'Christ-killer'
label that is used to incite anti-Semitic actions and to justify anti-Semitism
as a worldview. To some Christians, the crowd's demands, "Then answered all the
people, and said, His Blood be on us, and on our children," (Matthew 27:25)
carries more weight than Jesus Himself, when He said, " Father, forgive them;
for they know not what they do," (Luke 23:34)
That is not intended to
characterize all people who hold to a post-Tribulation worldview, but to explain
the teachings of post-Tribulationalism and some of the reasons for their
hostility to the pre-Tribulationist view.
The Dispensationalist, pre-Tribulationist
view of the Rapture is the only one consistent with the teachings of the
Scriptures. It allows for a secret, signless, Rapture of the Church, as taught
by Our Lord.
It teaches that the Restrainer
of evil is removed (the indwelt, Spirit-filled Church) which allows for the
unrestrained evil of the antichrist. While the Holy Spirit will remain on the
earth during the Tribulation, the Church does not.
The pre-Tribulation Rapture of
the Church is not awaiting the antichrist, it is awaiting the Christ, which is
wholly consistent with Scriptures that promise a special crown for those who
await His coming. Everything harmonizes with the Scriptures without the
necessity to allegorize or spiritualize a literal teaching in order to make it
Now to the point…..
Every day we attempt to
document some current event relevant to Bible prophecy. In point of fact, we
haven't documented a single FULFILLMENT of a Bible prophecy since the
restoration of Israel in 1948, and that is a prophecy in the process of
fulfillment. Israel has been restored, the Jews regathered to their ancient
homeland, but their national redemption is yet future.
What we are witnessing are more
like shadows in the sense that one can see a shadow of a man, but not his
features. From the shadow, you can identify with certainty that it is of a man,
but that is about all you can say for sure.
Paul describes it as 'seeing
through a glass darkly';
"For now we see through a
glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know
even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)
There are things we KNOW, and
there are things unknown. We know, for example, that the government of the
antichrist during the Tribulation will control the global economy, global
government and global religious system. While we don't know who he is, the
development, in this generation, of these three distinct systems, casts the
shadow of the antichrist. We see, but darkly, how it all plays out.
We know that the world will be
divided into four distinct spheres of world power; Gog-Magog, the Kings of the
East, the Kings of the South and the revived Roman Empire. The Bible makes no
mention of a fifth, overarching superpower.
We see the development of those
four Biblical spheres of global power, while the future of America is tenuous,
to say the least. We are at war from without, at war from within, and blissfully
ignorant of the perils posed by both. We see, in part, and we know in part, but
But all we see are shadows of
the coming Tribulation. The Bible says that these events are NOT fulfilled until
the Tribulation Period begins. These events were given, not as a warning to the
Church, but as the 'signs of His coming' to encourage the Church, particularly
the Church of the last days. The signs of His coming, and the unfolding of Bible
prophecy, were given as a sign to a 'wicked and adulterous generation' which 'seeketh
after a sign'.
We see through a glass, darkly.
We know things in part, and we see shadows in the signs of what is to come.
We KNOW that the Lord is coming
for His Church before the antichrist is revealed.
It is the shadows that frighten