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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rapture and Harold Camping

Hello Everyone,

As a pastor, I feel that I need to address the false teacher Harold Camping. I don't understand why anyone would continue to listen to Mr. Camping after his other failed attempts to pinpoint the exact date and time of the rapture. Jesus was very clear in Matthew 24 that before He returns there will be many false prophets who rise up. Matt. 24:23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time." (NLT)

Again in the same passage Jesus told us that no one can know the day or the hour:   Matt. 24:36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.[k] Only the Father knows." (NIV) 

However, Jesus said we should know the season. If you get a chance please read over Matthew 24. Pay close attention to verse 29 which specifically states that the second coming will happen after the anguish of the last days. This points to what would be called a post-tribulation rapture. So not only is Mr. Camping wrong in naming dates and hours when Jesus will return, but he is also wrong in thinking that the rapture will happen before all of the signs that Jesus mentioned are fulfilled. I feel bad for those people who quit their jobs and gave him all of their money.

The following is a summary of passages that I have been studying about the Rapture and the Second Coming and why I believe that the Rapture will be Post-Trib. Some of these arguments are made by other people around the web, but I expanded and added some of my own thoughts to them as well. There were several websites that I searched also in studying this, and the only that I could find today was http://www.bcbsr.com/survey/rapture_proofs.html?vm=r. But if you do a search for "Post Trib Rapture" I'm sure you will be able to find a lot. 

15 Point Proof for a Post Tribulation Rapture

 Part 1: Pre-Trib Arguments Debunked

 1.    Argument: In Rev. 4:1 God tells John to “come up.” The literal word is “Ek” in Greek, used in Revelation 4:1, 18:4 and elsewhere, and it literally means “out from.” Therefore, the rapture must be before the tribulation because they are being drawn out from the Tribulation, and out from the earth. Rebuttal: This does not necessarily mean a literal taking away from the earth. It could go along with Rev. 12:13 where it says there will be a safe place in the desert to be safe through the Tribulation. See below point 11 for more information.

2.    Argument: Rev. 3:10 Jesus said that He will “…keep you from the hour of Trial.” Therefore, Christians will be raptured out of the Tribulation. Rebuttal: Greek of this can also be translated instead of “Keep you from” as “Keep you through.” In John 17:11 and 15, it is translated as “keep you through” in many translations. Daniel in the lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Noah and Lot are all examples of being “kept through” their trials. 

3.    Argument: Lot was taken out of Sodom and Noah was taken out of the Flood so we will be taken out of the Tribulation. (See Luke 17:26-30) Rebuttal: First of all, Noah was NOT taken out of the Flood. He had to ride around in an Ark, with only a few inches or at the most feet of wood separating him from the dead bodies of everyone he preached to during his time building the Ark. Noah endured through the Flood and was saved because of God’s direct intervention (i.e. God explained to him how to build the Ark.). Likewise with Lot. Also, Lot was in the general vicinity of the destruction of Sodom. He barely escaped with his life, and his wife did not escape with her life. In the Luke passage mentioned above, the disciples asked where the people would be taken and Jesus told them to look among the dead bodies and where the vultures gather. This could be referring to the evil people, if compared with Matt 24: 37-44. However, it could also show that there will be many martyrs before His return, as demonstrated by Revelation 20, 12 and 7. Also, see next point about Tribulation and God’s Wrath.

4.    Argument: Jesus said in Luke 21:36 that we are to “…pray that you will escape God’s wrath.” Therefore, we will be delivered from God’s Wrath, i.e. the Tribulation, by the Rapture. Rebuttal: Praying and having a relationship with God is how we will escape, all Christians believe this. However, the Tribulation is not God’s wrath. The Tribulation is Satan’s wrath against the Church. As we see in the book of Joel, “The Day of the Lord” is God’s wrath. (See point 12 for more info about this.) According to 1 Thess. 5:2 we see that the Rapture is one of the events of the “Day of the Lord.” We also see in Joel that there are several things that the evil people do, such as warring against God’s people, marching against the Messiah when He returns, etc.,  that agree with everything that happens during the Tribulation as described in the NT. So we can clearly see that the Tribulation is not God’s wrath. It is a time of testing for the church, to be sure, but not His wrath against His people. Saints will escape God’s wrath but only because they endured through Satan’s wrath, a.k.a. the Tribulation.

5.    Argument: But God is loving, and would not hurt His children. Rebuttal: Martyrdom. Deut 4:36, 11:2, Job 5:17, Ps 39:11, Ps 94:12, Prov. 3:11.

6.    Argument: in 1 Thess. 4:16-18 we are told to encourage each other about Christ’s Second Coming, but talking about having to endure the Tribulation is not encouraging. Rebuttal: This passage is talking about how to cope with grief and death when we lose loved ones. We encourage each other because we know that if we endure and continue to follow God in spite of the horrors we have to endure (similar to the horrors the early church was enduring at the hands of Rome) we will be reunited with our loved ones when Christ does return.

7.    Argument: After Revelation 4:1, we do not read about “the Church” anymore. God said to John, “come up here,” which symbolizes the pre-Trib rapture. So since the church is not mentioned after God tells John to come up, the church must be raptured Pre-Trib. Rebuttal: The church is made up of “saints,” another term synonymous with the church throughout the entire NT. We see the word “saints” a lot after 4:1. (See: 13:7, 13:10, Rev. 14:9-12, Mt 24: 15-25 and Dan. 7:25.) Also, this could simply mean that under the authority of the Antichrist, assembling for worship, the main identifying mark of the “church,” has become outlawed. Which makes sense, when you see that if one does not receive his “mark” the penalty is execution. 

8.    Argument: The church will depart before the Antichrist is revealed. (2 Thess. 2:7,8) Rebuttal: Read 2 Thess. 2:3. It specifically states that the Antichrist must be revealed first before the Second Coming. This teaching is completely unbiblical, and heretical, because it outright contradicts the preceding verses specifically.

9.    Argument: Christ’s Return is Imminent. Matthew 24:44 says that He will come unexpectedly. If He was coming when we expected it (i.e. Post-Trib) it would not be unexpected. Rebuttal: Why did Jesus warn his disciples about this if He didn’t want them to be looking for it and expecting it? The mere fact that He’s teaching about it means that He wants the Church to expect it. He means that the World won’t expect it. He wouldn’t be giving us signs to watch for if we weren’t to expect it. In Matthew 24 Jesus gives the parable of the fig tree to show us that we might not know the day or the hour, but we can tell the season, and just like we can have a good idea that the fruit is ripe enough to eat, so we will have a good idea of the "season" when  Jesus will actually return. See Matthew 24:29-30 for more about this. This passage shows that the prophesy of Joel concerning the moon, stars and sun turning black must happen first so believers will expect His coming. Christ’s return is not imminent in the sense that many people believe, that it could happen at any moment. There are very specific prophesies that MUST be fulfilled before this. I was a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor for many years, and it was in our statement of faith. But our founder, A.B. Simpson even pointed to Matthew 24 and said that Jesus wouldn't return until the gospel had been preached in every nation. How can Jesus be coming at ANY moment if the gospel had not been preached in ever nation yet. It is a strange contradiction that I never got a clear answer to. This statement should probably be removed, or at least edited, from every Christian church that includes it, such as the C&MA, the Southern Baptists and many other evangelical church that includes it in their statements of faith. See Daniel 9:25-27. This says that the Temple must be built first and half way through the Tribulation, the AC will break his treaty with Israel, set up the “Abomination that causes Desolation” (that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24) for 3 and a half years. See also Daniel 11:31-32. In Daniel 12:11 he says the very end will be 3.5 years after these things happen. In Matthew 24:15-25 Jesus said that the Tribulation was cut back so that there would be survivors. Survivors for what? He gives the answer in 24:30; His Second Coming. And Survivors from what? Obviously there had to be something they were surviving.  The Second Coming is the capstone that signals the very end, so it cannot happen 7 years before the end.  And since the Rapture is preceded by a Great Devastation that some would survive, it makes sense that the only event causing such devastation mentioned in Scripture is the Tribulation. Therefore, the Rapture has to be after the Tribulation.     

More Points of Information About Post Tribulation Rapture

10. Both 1 Thess. 4:15-17 and 1 Cor. 15:20-23 specifically say that the Rapture is at Christ’s Second coming. 2 Thess. 2 specifically states that the early church will be Raptured at the Second Coming. Matthew 24:29-31 as well as Mark 13:24-27 specifically says that the Second Coming happens after the Tribulation. Therefore, the Rapture cannot occur Pre-Trib.

11.  The Rapture has to happen AFTER the “Apostasia,” or Great Falling Away mentioned in 2 Thess. 2 and in Matthew 24:10. Also, Jesus mentions the Antichrist in that passage, which shows that he will be on the scene at that time. Daniel 7:25 says the Antichrist fights and defeats Israel (or possibly the saints, or both, if compared to Revelation 12) for 3.5 years. Daniel says here that all End Time events will be completed after that final 3.5 years. Revelation 12:13 says there will be a place of safety prepared for “her” (either the church or Israel) in the Desert (not heaven), out of the Antichrist’s reach. Remember that Satan and the Antichrist are not divine and are not omnipresent. They take up a specific place both in material and in the spiritual realms. So there could be a place on earth that they cannot reach and effect. After Matthew 24:10 Jesus speaks of the Gathering (a.k.a. the Rapture) in 24:31. Also, Daniel says that the final kingdom will be one of “iron and clay” which shows that there are very strong parts of the kingdom, but also some very weak parts. No one has ever been able to sustain a completely totalitarian reign in history, not even Hitler or Stalin. Therefore, there must be some places where people will be able to hide or be safe.

12.  The “Day of the Lord,” mentioned in 1 Thess. 5:2, is associated with the Rapture. 1 Thess. 4:16-17 corresponds to Joel 2:31 which says the darkening of the Sun, Moon and Stars precede the Day of the Lord. In Acts 2, Peter applies this passage to the Church. Also in 2 Thess. 2:2 and 3, it says the Antichrist must be revealed first before the Day of the Lord. All the events of the Day of the Lord mentioned in Joel are associated with Christ’s actions when He returns to set things right. He does not return just to get us, He returns to subjugate the entire world under His rule so He can turn it over to His Father. See 1 Cor. 15:25. This passage that says Christ must reign until all things are subjected under Him. It is in a tense that implies that there will be a long term period of conquering everything, which explains why there is a 1,000 year reign and then a final rebellion of Satan. (See Revelation 20:7-10) It also explains why it seems that, in several passages, including Joel and Isaiah 19, there are a group of people who were not believers coming up to pay homage to Christ who are not transformed saints. It also explains why the Jews won’t come to know Christ until He returns. They will be His people, but they will have Saints that are their governors, leaders, etc. This also coincides with Matthew 25:31-33 which states clearly that the same day that we are Raptured is the same day when Jesus returns to destroy the wicked. Some would argue that “Day of the Lord” does not mean a literal 24 hour day, and this may be true, but they are also often the same people who like to argue that “Day” in Genesis 1:5 is a literal 24 hour day. It would seem that a day is a day and the “Day of the Lord,” literally means the very day He returns.  

13. 1 Cor. 15:51-53 says that the Rapture happens at the time of the Last Trumpet. Matthew 24: 29-31 says that there is a Trump sounded to signify the end of the Tribulation (i.e. the Last Trump). The Rapture cannot happen before this Trump, otherwise it wouldn’t be the “Last” Trump, therefore, since the “Last Trump” signifies both the End of the Tribulation and the Rapture, not to mention it also signifies Christ’s Second Coming, it shows that these three events happen at the same time, thus disproving yet again a Pre-Trib Rapture point of view. This all coincides with what Jesus said in John 6:39, 40, 44 and 54 that He would raise us up on the “Last” day, not 7 years or 3.5 years before.

14.  Revelation 20:4-6 shows that the 1st Resurrection is after the Tribulation. We know this because it includes Tribulation martyrs as well as others who refused to worship the Beast or his image, or take his mark. During the tribulation there can be no resurrection of the dead saints at a pre-trib Rapture before the 1st Resurrection, or else Paul and the early church wouldn’t be included in that number, but we see in 2 Thess. 2 that Paul anticipated being there, therefore the Pre-Trib Rapture, as well as a Mid-Trib Rapture is impossible. (See also Rev 12:11 and Rev 7:9-17).

15.  “Thief In The Night” is associated with a Post-Trib Rapture. 1 Thess. 4 and 5 associate “Thief in the Night” with the “Day of the Lord.” There is no evidence anywhere in Scripture of two “Thief in the Night” experiences, both taking people by surprise. If the first “Thief in the Night” experience happened it would alert people of the second “Thief in the Night” experience. In Matt 24 the only reference is linked to a Post Trib Rapture. Also see above about the fact that the Church is not to be taken by surprise, but have been warned in several places to be “watching” and “alert.”

If you are reading this and are strongly Pre-Trib. I hope that you will not get offended and write off my arguments without first examining the Scriptures to see if I am wrong. I also want to thank the other people out there, though I can't remember all of your sites, who discuss these things as well. I feel that the Pre-Trib doctrine will be a stumbling block for many Christians that will be part of the Great Falling Away when they realize sadly that events didn't happen the way they were taught by the Left Behind stories. And thus, will give up on their faith in Christ and in His return. Just like there will be many people who were wrapped up in Harold Camping's false teaching that will give up their faith because of the bitterness over selling all of their possessions and losing their jobs. I can guarantee you that he will not be hiring all of those people to work for his company at the rate of pay they were making before they quit their jobs. 

I hope that something in here was helpful to you. Please feel free to pass this information on to anyone who might need it.

God bless,


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