What is the difference between the Pre-wrath Rapture view and the Post-tribulation Rapture view?

Email Received:

We both agree that there will be no Pre-tribulation Rapture. What I don't understand is why you advocate a "Pre-wrath" Rapture view. There actually will be a "Post-tribulation" Rapture (Revelation 14:14-16), and it will occur on the very DAY of Jesus' second advent (bodily descent) back to earth.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe in a Post-tribulation Rapture:

  1. Matthew 24:29-31: Jesus said, "Immediately after the distress [tribulation] of those [1260] days...the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky [SIXTH SEAL]. ... The nations...will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud [7TH & LAST] TRUMPET CALL [see Revelation 11:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16]...."
  2. There are only 7 trumpets in God's inspired Word during the Great Tribulation, and the 7TH TRUMP is of course the LAST TRUMP when the mystery of God will be accomplished and Jesus returns. It is also the TRUMPET CALL OF GOD mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
  3. John 6:40: Jesus said, "For my Father's will is that EVERYONE who looks to the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the LAST DAY."
  4. 1 Thessalonians 5:4,5: "But you brothers, are not in darkness so that THIS DAY should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the DAY."

Ted's Response:

I agree that the Pre-tribulation Rapture view is incorrect. However, I make a clear distinction between the Pre-wrath view and the Post-tribulation view. Although having some things in common, they have marked differences. Actually, I believe that there probably will be more than one Rapture event and that, most likely, a Post-tribulation Rapture will be the final one, on the day of Jesus' second advent back to earth. However, I do not believe that it will be the first or the main Rapture to take place.

There are distinct differences between the Pre-wrath and the Post-trib Raptures, although Jesus will appear in the clouds just prior to both events. At the appearance of Jesus followed by the Pre-wrath Rapture of Matthew 24:30,31, angels will be the ones gathering those being taken. However, at the Post-tribulation Rapture of Revelation 14:14-16, just before Jesus returns to earth, Jesus Himself is the one who will gather the harvest of saved believers.

Some Post-tribbers say that Revelation 14:16—which clearly states that it is the Son of Man (Jesus) who will swing the sickle to harvest saved believers—is "symbolic" of the fact that He will "cause" the harvest by ordering His angels to harvest the earth. This is an attempt to force this verse to line up with Matthew 24:31. I do not see it this way at all.

Revelation 14:15,16 says that an angel from heaven will tell the Son of Man, specifically, to swing His sickle; that is what I believe will happen, not the other way around. Furthermore, 14:17 says that an angel, other than the Son of Man, will have another sickle. In 14:18,19 that angel will be commanded by yet another angel to swing his sickle and gather the clusters of evil "grapes" to be thrown into the winepress of God's wrath.

We have here, then, two sickles being swung. In both cases, angels (not the Son of Man, Jesus) will tell those with the two sickles (Jesus and another angel) to use them in two harvests: the first for saved believers and the second for unsaved nonbelievers. Thus, it seems to be a huge stretch to make the nebulous assumption that, in the first case, Jesus will command more than one angel to gather the elect, simply because you, as a Post-tribber, want Revelation 14:16 to be parallel to Matthew 24:31—a verse which depicts the Pre-wrath Rapture but not Jesus' second advent to earth.

Pertaining to your first point, one of the first errors that Post-tribbers make is assuming that the Great Tribulation period will last for 1,260 days. By making this supposition, they place the signs of the Sixth Seal (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12,13) at the very end of the 70th Week and, therefore, assume that the Rapture (Matthew 24:30,31) will take place at that time as well.

I realize there is a general consensus that the period known as the Great Tribulation will last for the entire last half of the 70th Week. However, I disagree with this assumption. Although I do believe that the last half of the 70th Week will be 1,260 days in length, the Great Tribulation period will not last the entire 1,260 days. That period will end with the opening of the Sixth Seal, at which time multitudes of believers will be removed, via the Pre-wrath Rapture, and will be translated to heaven (Revelation 7:9,10,14). This will be prior to the opening of the Seventh Seal, at which time God's "day of vengeance" will begin.

Jesus said that there would be "great distress" or "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21); but in the very next verse, He indicated that those days would be cut short for the sake of the elect (24:22). The event that will cut short those days of great distress and tribulation, for elect believers, is the opening of the Sixth Seal and the subsequent Pre-wrath Rapture. But nowhere does it indicate, specifically, that this will be at the very end of the 70th Week. More details about this can be found in another email response here: Are the Sixth Seal events at the very end of the 70th Week?

In essence, the Great Tribulation will be a time of Satan's wrath upon mankind (Revelation 12:12); whereas, the "day of vengeance" will be a time of God's wrath upon mankind (6:17). The Great Tribulation period plus the "day" (year) of God's wrath will be 1,260 days in length.

Also in your first point, you indicate that the Seventh Trumpet will follow immediately after the Sixth Seal. I adamantly disagree. If Matthew 24:30,31 depicts Jesus' second advent to walk on the earth, then the events of the Seventh Seal, plus six of the seven Trumpet Judgments, must be wedged in between Matthew 24:29 and 24:30. This is such a huge stretch that it is completely implausible.

Certainly, Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12,13 are parallel verses, which you recognize. Now let's compare the rest of these passages:

Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. ... The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. ... Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:12,13,15-17)
There is a clear parallel between Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17. Soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal, unbelievers will run and hide in caves and under rocks, having seen the face of Jesus on His throne in the air, and knowing that God's wrath is imminent. His wrath will commence with the opening of the Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1). It is when the world sees Jesus in the air that He will gather and catch up His believers at the Rapture, thereby protecting them from the wrath to come.

Next, compare Matthew 24:30,31 with 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, which are parallel Rapture passages:

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31)

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17)
There is nothing in either Matthew 24:30,31 or 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 indicating that Jesus has returned to earth, only that He has appeared in the clouds and that His elect believers will be gathered and caught up to be with Him. Once again, these things will take place soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal, not at the very end of the 70th Week when Jesus will return to earth.

Now, for your second point, I agree that Jesus' second advent to earth will be at the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet. Also, the trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 is the trumpet that will be heard at the main Rapture event (Matthew 24:31). However, the eschatological "Last Trumpet" is not the same as the "Seventh Trumpet." This email response explains why: Why are the "last trumpet" and the "seventh trumpet" not the same trumpet?

As for your third point, another assumption by Post-tribbers is that "last day" must refer to the final 24-hour day of the 70th Week. Yet, in Scripture, the word "day" can mean something other than a 24-hour day. For instance, from God's perspective, a day can be as a thousand years (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). Furthermore, in three places, Isaiah equated God's "day of vengeance" with a year of time (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4).

I completely reject the notion that the "day of the Lord" will be merely a 24-hour, solar day. Rather, I believe that the "day of the Lord" will begin with the year-long "day of vengeance" (the final year of the 70th Week), during which the seven trumpet judgments will transpire. The Fifth Trumpet Judgment, alone, will continue for five months (Revelation 9:5,10) during that year. The "day of the Lord" will continue and will encompass the 1,000-year Millennium or thousand years (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8), during which Jesus will rule and reign on the earth. That will be the Lord's "day" of being in direct charge and command of everyone and everything in the world, as He reigns as King over the earth (Zechariah 14:9) from the millennial Temple in Jerusalem.

If one considers Daniel's 70th Week to be a "week" of years, then each year can be considered to be a "day" in that prophetic week (although each "day" of that week of years may not be exactly a year in length). It makes sense, then, that the final "day" (that is, year, according to the prophet Isaiah) of that final "week" of years—the seventh year—will be the "day of vengeance" (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4) or "day of God's wrath" (Revelation 6:17), during which He will avenge the blood of the saints slain during the Fifth Seal events (6:9-11). This year of God's vengeance, consisting of the seven trumpet judgments, will commence upon the opening of the Seventh Seal, after the elect saints have been caught up and away in the Pre-wrath Rapture.

Finally, considering your fourth point, it is true that the "day of the Lord" will not surprise true believers as a thief in the night. Incidentally, you left off part of 1 Thessalonians 5:5, which reads, in its entirety, "You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness." The word "day" at the end of the first sentence has nothing to do with the day of Jesus' second advent back to earth. The second sentence, which you omitted, indicates that while unbelievers, in their imperceptiveness and lack of knowledge, belong to the night or to the "darkness," believers see things clearly and plainly, as if the light of day is shining upon them.

As soon as the signs of the Sixth Seal (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12-14) occur, informed believers will know that the "day of the Lord's wrath" is near and that their redemption, via the Pre-wrath Rapture, is imminent. None of it should surprise them, because they will have been witnessing the great Fifth Seal persecution of believers (Revelation 6:9-11) and will be expecting the Sixth Seal to be opened (followed by the opening of the Seventh Seal, for which they will be gone). They will be gathered by angels (Matthew 24:31) and then will be seen as a great multitude of people in heaven (Revelation 7:9), having come out of the Great Tribulation (7:13,14), before the Seventh Seal is opened (8:1).

The wrath of God will encompass both the Trumpet Judgments and the Bowl Judgments. Note how Revelation 15:1, which takes place just before the Bowl Judgments are poured out, indicates that these will be the seven last plagues because, with them, God's wrath is completed. This is because the Trumpet Judgments are the first set of seven plagues of God's wrath that will come upon the earth. Saved believers will be removed, via the Pre-wrath Rapture, prior to both sets of wrath: Trumpet Judgments and Bowl Judgments.

On the other hand, those who are not believers at that time will be completely caught off guard—as though being robbed of their normal daily routines by the sudden appearance of a thief—when the Sixth Seal of the heavenly scroll is opened. They will be biblically and prophetically ignorant and will not be expecting the signs of the Sixth Seal. However, since the Sixth Seal events taking place around them will be exceedingly dreadful and terrifying, they will be perceptive enough, at that point, to realize that God's vengeance and wrath is imminent and is about to come upon the earth (Revelation 6:15-17).

During the year-long "day" of vengeance, a final group of people will become believers, many of whom will remain alive until Jesus returns. These over-ripe or dried "grapes" (both alive and dead) will be harvested by Jesus, the Son of Man, on the last 24-hour day of the 70th Week in a Post-tribulation harvest and resurrection event (Revelation 14:14-16). Upon receiving their glorified bodies, these saved believers will not go into heaven. Most likely, they will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air and then will come back down with Him, along with all the glorified saints previously raptured into heaven who are returning with Him from heaven. All of them will be given authority, along with Jesus, to rule with an "iron scepter" over the nations (2:26,27).

At both the Pre-wrath Rapture and Post-tribulation Rapture, Jesus will be seen in the clouds with His angels. In the Pre-wrath case, the glorified saints will be taken up into heaven. In the Post-trib case, the glorified saints most likely will be caught up in the air to meet Jesus but will not be taken up into heaven. Then Jesus will continue to descend to earth following the Post-tribulation resurrection and glorification event. The Second Coming of Jesus will encompass, collectively, both of these events, first with His appearance in the air (without returning all the way to earth) and later with His return back to earth to rule and reign.

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