In our last article we defined what the tribulation is. We saw how there are three groups of thought on what will happen to the saints in relation to the great tribulation. We saw how the pre-trib people believe that God will rapture his church before they have to face the tribulation. The mid-trib people believe that somewhere at the mid point, three and a half years in, the church will be raptured. The post-trib people believe that God’s people must go through the tribulation before Jesus Christ will come back. So which one is most supported by the Bible? I believe that it’s the post-trib position. Let me explain why…
Wouldn’t it be great to avoid persecution?
As I mentioned in my last article on the tribulation, I would love to believe in the pre-trib view of things. I don’t relish the idea of having to go through a time of great sorrow and pain “such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” (Matthew 24:21) Clearly, as we established previously, no human being likes the idea of suffering and pain. This is one of the first reasons I believe that the pre-trib position is suspect. Now it is true that certain verses can appear to teach this viewpoint. Daniel 12:1 is one of them.
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered,everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”
Notice the last part where it says, “But at that time your people shall be delivered…” Reading this verse alone you could definitely get the idea that God will deliver his people from having to go through the time of trouble. This isn’t the only place though that the tribulation is talked about. Earlier we referenced Matthew 24:21-22.
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
Now these two verses tend to support more the mid-trib and post-trib views. Notice verse 22 that states, “And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved…” This is describing a really bad time. A global catastrophe either man made or otherwise. It is going to be so bad that the possibility of the total annihilation of the human race is possible. Nothing any of us would choose to go through. Now notice the last part of verse 22. “But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” Take note of the wording. It says, “for the sake of the elect.” Who are the elect?
Another word for the word ‘elect’ would be chosen. So if we used this word the phrase at the end of verse 22 would read, “But for the sake of the chosen (ones) those days will be cut short.” This idea of the chosen is also found in 1 Peter 2:9.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
So who are these ‘elect’ or ‘chosen’? They are the ones who believe in God and follow him. Revelation 14:12 describes them as “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” They are the ones who have kept themselves pure. Single to the glory of God.Unstained from the world. (James 1:27b)
Therefore, God will shorten the days of the tribulation, otherwise, there would be no righteous people who could make it through. Now at this point you can see where some people will then take the mid-trib position and say that God cuts short the time of trouble for the righteous by rapturing them, or taking them out of the world. The problem with taking this position, in my humble opinion, is that there is no text that states that at this point, God takes the saints away. It is true that if you read the book of Revelation, especially chapters 16 to 17 don’t mention the church. Chapter 15 seems to place the saints at a sea of glass which makes one think of heaven. (Rev. 4:6) If you follow the chapters chronologically however, Revelation 18 then calls for the saints to come out of Babylon the great harlot. (Rev. 18:4)
Revelation 19 has the one sitting on the white horse, known as Faithful and True, representing Jesus Christ coming as a conqueror. His majesty, power and brilliance kills everyone on earth who doesn’t belong to him. The beginning of Revelation 20 sees an angel grabbing the devil and binding him for a thousand years. At this point, where are the saints? They have been raptured! Not secretly by the way but openly, publicly, in front of all the wicked. This is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
Meanwhile, Revelation 19 is clear that at that time, all the wicked will be destroyed by the second coming of Christ. Verses 17-18 read as follows:
“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead,“Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave,both small and great.”
And finally verse 21 states,
“And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.”
Clearly indicating that all the wicked on the earth will be killed. Where are the saints again? They have been taken up into the air to be with Jesus where they will spend the next one thousand years with him in heaven.
When I follow the sequence of events found in Revelation I don’t see anywhere that God’s people will escape persecution. Over and over again Jesus and other bible writers make it clear that following Jesus is costly. The world will hate us. It will do everything to try to destroy us. The only reason they can’t succeed is because God won’t let them. For this reason and others, I don’t believe that the pre-trib position is consistent with the teachings of scripture.
No where do we find it clearly taught that God’s saints will be taken from the earth and that things will continue for a time on earth. As we’ve just seen in the quotes from Revelation above, God’s people are present until the very end.
Only the post-trib view makes sense in the sequence of events outlined in Revelation and elsewhere. God will allow his saints to face a great persecution but as Jesus himself stated in Matthew 24, God will cut it short for our sakes. It won’t last decades or centuries. At most we are talking a few years. If we have a solid faith and relationship in Jesus we have no reason to fear. God has promised to guide us and protect us. That is, if we’ve fully confessed our sin and given our hearts and lives fully to him. It is as easy as praying and asking God to save us and then submitting our lives to his leading. Won’t you consider doing that today if you haven’t already?