Pre-trib Rapture - To Be or Not To Be?

by:  Lonnie Lane

This question of the Rapture and when it will take place is one that seems to circle the earth. When things are calm the issue of the Rapture fades into the background; but as soon as things heat up, people begin to get nervous about the status quo of the world, and the issue resurfaces. It sure has resurfaced lately - for good reason. The world is in increasing turmoil. Here’s a question that came from Sydney, Australia.

 Q. Many of the U.S evangelical pastors say God will not allow his church to be here while the tribulation takes place…and that the Rapture and the second coming are not two separate events. Care to explain why you differ?

A.  Believe me when I say I’m all for the Rapture happening before the tribulation or any time that will take us out of it. My vote would be for the Rapture to happen ASAP!

But before I go any further in answering this man’s question, I want to make it clear that I am not dogmatic about when the Rapture takes place; but I am greatly concerned about people who are not spiritually, or mentally equipped to go through times of tribulation should they occur. My experience has been that, not all, but a significant number of believers expect to be taken out of harms way at any time; so they are not pressing into the Lord as they would if they were preparing should troubled times lie ahead.

Even if things do not get difficult, growing stronger in the Lord is always advisable.

There is a less of a dependence upon Him, or little realization of how much we desperately need to get as close to the Lord as we can; or of those who realize how much we will need to trust in Him fully if we should head into difficult times. And most of all, there is not the same quest for holiness for those who feel that they already “qualify” for the Rapture because they “prayed the sinners prayer” at one time. If that sounds judgmental, may I say it comes with love, and much concern for the well-being of people’s souls, who may be vulnerable to discouragement and fear if hard times come to them.

When I confronted friends of mine who were “pre-tribers” with the possibility of still being here in times of great tribulation; and shared some verses with them, it changed their whole way of relating to the Lord. Even if things do not get difficult, growing stronger in the Lord is always advisable. One is never sorry they took the time and the focus to grow in God. We should never settle for the existing state of our walk with the Lord. There is so much more to be gained from a deeper walk with the Him. Seeking to know Him more; asking Him for insight, and revelation into His Word; can only benefit us, and equip us regardless of what may come. The greater the revelation we have of Him, the greater the change in us, so that we are more and more like Him, as we wait for His coming.

Now let’s get into some of the issues. Yeshua told the story of the ten virgins; half of whom were ready when the Bridegroom came at midnight, while the other half were unprepared. It appears that they all had every intention of being ready for the Bridegroom, and were waiting for him with great anticipation. But he didn’t come when they expected, and so rather than remain alert and in continued prepared anticipation for his coming, the sleepy ones drifted off until they totally missed his coming. “Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep” (Matthew 25:5).

To be awake is to be alert to the things and Person of God. To be asleep is to be unresponsive to God or His call. I get concerned that there are some, who do not expect to be here in difficult times, who will slip off into a spiritual slumber and not remain alert in the Spirit; and will therefore be vulnerable to error or accusations.  Take the following verse for instance: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming” (2 Peter 3:3, 4). 

What does this verse mean to you?  To me it sounds like in the last days, which many believe we are approaching; there will be unbelievers who are out to taunt the believers by basically saying, “Yeah, you’ve been waiting for that Messiah of yours, and saying He would come for you, but you’re still here and He’s not. You’ve waited for something that never happened.”  Will all believers remain steadfast in their faith in the midst of that ridicule?  It looks to me like in the “last days” believers will be here along with the mockers. Maybe this refers to those believers who are saved after the Rapture. It doesn’t say so, but maybe. Big maybe! Here’s why:

The Rapture theory considers that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the earth with the believers...

The Rapture theory considers that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the earth with the believers, based on this verse about the appearing of the anti-Christ:  “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7).  It is assumed that it is the Holy Spirit that restrains evil, and what this verse is speaking about, but how does anyone get or stay saved without the Holy Spirit if He is taken out in the Rapture? To think one can “get saved” or will remain faithful to God without God’s grace being resident is to misunderstand our entire dependence upon the Spirit of God. Without the Spirit, it is impossible to be saved because it is the indwelling of the Spirit of God that makes us one with God. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Messiah is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9b-11). No Spirit, no spiritual life.  

We Jews seem to have to go through things, we don’t get evacuated from them. It seems to be God’s way for us. The early disciples went through terrible persecution. Why in Western society do we think we should be exempt because most of us have been in these past few generations? It’s not the case elsewhere in the world. People are suffering for their faith in Yeshua as you read this in the comfort of your own home.  Have you read the book of Revelation lately, especially the first three chapters?  Those folks went through some very difficult things, but Yeshua’s word to them was “Hang in there, remain faithful, hold to your first love, to your testimony, and the blood of the Lamb, and I will give you a crown of life. (See Revelation 2 & 3).

Was Yeshua chastising most of those congregations where they needed it? Yes, He was. He was warning them; He corrected them.  He was attempting to protect them from what was facing them. He also promised them that as they lined up their lives and faith where they were amiss, He would be with them and great victory was ahead; perhaps not in this world but in the next.  I am concerned that too many in the church today have a rather earthbound image of Yeshua, and do not see Him as the glorious King of the universe; to whom we are pledged in righteousness. Our treasure is too much located on earth, in the here and now, and not the glory of eternity.  Yeshua said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”  (Matthew 6:19-21). How do you personally live out this verse? Where is your treasure? Are we so used to hearing this verse that we don’t really “hear” it to be accountable to it?

I really dislike writing articles like this one. I much prefer to be God’s cheerleader and talk about how good and great He is. I know this is not one of my usual God-is-so-good articles, but it may be that some of us need to hear this. I’m saying this in the spirit of, “one who…speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation” (1 Corinthians 14:3). But Paul also clearly said, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Messiah Yeshua, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…” (2 Timothy 4:1-3).

Accordingly, please note that Yeshua didn’t say to the churches in the first chapters of the Revelation, “And I will make sure you never suffer a day of stress or duress.”  Rather, He said things like, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown” (Revelation 2:10).  Sounds like tribulation to me. I hope those words were only for them back then. But everything in the Bible is for our present edification and to learn from. What I take away from those verses is that should difficult times come upon us, or even just upon myself, I want to remain faithful to the Lord, and be strong in Him, even to the point of death if need be.  

When the disciples asked Yeshua, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3), He answered, “….of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:36-39).  

Let’s examine this. The Rapture understanding of these verses is that the good guys would be taken out and the rest left behind to perish. But is that what it says? It says, “They did not understand until the flood came and took them all away.” It was the flood which did away with them. Noah and his family weren’t taken away; they remained on the earth. The rest perished.  

Prior to these words Yeshua said, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another” (Matthew 24:9, 10).

This is my great concern: that you who read these articles, who visit our website, who have a longing to come to know God in a greater measure; who are pressing in to lay hold of God and His power, who are seeking to be in His presence; that we together remain faithful to Messiah Yeshua, and to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. And that we remain people of His love. We may not know each other in the natural, but I feel a connection to you who read my articles. I care about you. The Lord has let me know that many of you and I will meet in heaven one day. Won’t that be wonderful? Till that day, we must prepare to remain faithful when many fall away.

As for the Rapture and the second coming being the same, I have no way of knowing for certain when He will come; but what I’ve given you above is but a small example of why I do not believe a Rapture will take place that will exempt us from times of tribulation. Could there be a mid-trib Rapture as some expect?  I would hope so there too. Don’t know. I’m just going to do my best to prepare to remain faithful, and in love and forgiveness; whatever may or may not come. That’s the best way I know to be ready whenever He comes. There are a large number of pastors who feel as I do; about the Rapture not taking us out of times of difficulty. There is a greater glory to God when He takes care of His people in the midst of His judgment of others, rather than just removing them from it. I heard one pastor on TV recently, who is known world-wide, speak in agreement with these thoughts: Where is the glory to God if there is no testimony to His keeping power over His people? If there are no believers in the earth anymore, where is the testimony of God? And without any testimony, there will be no salvation for those who are perishing, which is always God’s primary concern. He has to have His people here to be His ambassadors. Yeshua came that people might be saved. That hasn’t changed.

Even if and when judgment comes on the earth, there is always this: “In wrath (He will) remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2), but someone has to be here to pray for mercy. Some people who know He is a merciful God need to be here to intercede for that mercy. That’s God’s way: that we partner with Him in what He’s doing, through prayer. I personally believe prayer is how He is teaching us now to reign with Him in eternity forever. He is teaching us to bear the burdens of His heart now.

The best way to be ready is to know how to put the full weight of your trust in the Lord in all things.

There are many other verses I could go into, and by now I’ve probably frightened some of you who do not feel ready. Then again, who could really feel ready? The best way to be ready is to know how to put the full weight of your trust in the Lord in all things. It’s okay, dear ones, if you don’t feel ready now. This is a wakeup call, but please be aware that this is not for you to find a way in the flesh to try to be ready, nor should you fear. Just surrender yourself to God, turn away from any sins you’re been tolerating in your life or compromising about; and turn fully to God.  He will teach you how to be wholly His as you look to Him to do so.  In times of darkness, He has promised that His people will prove to be the light in the world:  “ Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, (Philippians 2:14-16). There’s our goal. That’s His standard. Let’s agree to live up to it, by His grace.

 We may just well be the most (or only) joyful people on the planet, and surely the only people in peace, as we “hold fast the word of life” who is Yeshua. We understand that the shaking of the world system that we call tribulation is God bringing sin and unrighteousness to an end. His intention is to bring people to repentance, and to rethink the values in their lives, and to realize they are far from God; so as to come under His eternally-safe wings. We get to be the ones to show them the way. Our path grows brighter and brighter as the day grows closer of His return, whenever that is.

 As a final thought, consider the Exodus from Egypt. It was God showing His deference to, and protection of those who were His, when they did not experience the plagues that Egypt did. In Goshen where God’s people lived, there was light when the rest of Egypt was under the curse of darkness. Thousands of Egyptians, and a “mixed multitude” in Egypt at the time, saw the power and protection of their God; and left Egypt with the Hebrews to become a part of God’s own people. As people see the protection of God upon His people, can we not expect that thousands will come under His protection and righteousness as well? If we were not there, how would they know He was available to them? 

 Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2011. 

 

 

Lonnie Lane

For Lonnie's other articles, check out our Exclusive Articles and Resources, especially the section on One New Man.

Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."

 

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.  All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

 

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