What part of the revelation is the rapture?
Will the rapture come before the tribulation?
We fully share the view that before the final judgments begin, the Lord will come in the air to take His own, and that this alone can correspond to the thoughts and love of God. Apparently, one confuses "sober and factual examination" with a purely human intellectual technique and one does not seem to know much about the fact that the book of Revelation is written in symbolic language and that God's spirit in these pictures reveals wonderfully deep divine thoughts and facts, which in direct words would be neither expressible nor comprehensible for us. This is also shown by the passage in 2 Peter 1:20 "in that you first know this, that no prophecy of Scripture is of its own interpretation." The interpretation of the symbolic images can be found in the scripture itself. Only in this way can one find out the thoughts of God illustrated in the pictures; but this leads to a completely different interpretation than that of some interpreters. It is not acceptable to go into all the wrongdoings of the same, that would make a whole book, because one throws up so much and mixes up so many things that have to be carefully kept apart. The Revelation is not a chronologically ordered overall picture, but gives us a series of individual images, each of which represents an event in itself. 1
There are just a few things we'd like to say in evidence of a pre-tribulation rapture. In Revelation 1:19 John is asked to write down "what is and what will happen after this". Well what is that, "what is?" It is the Christian epoch that is prophetically represented in the pictures of the seven assemblies in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation until the apostate and spiritually dead Christianity is played out. If one only sees the seven named churches of that time in these assemblies, what is the meaning of their mention in the Holy Scriptures, since they have long since perished? But what an abundance of teachings we find when we evaluate them as a description of seven different epochs in church history. Further, to what time could Revelation 3:10, "[so] I also keep you from the hour of temptation which will come over the whole world," if not to the end times?
2 Thessalonians 2: 7 shows this too. "He who holds back" can only be the Holy Spirit, who alone has the power to do so and who will leave the earth together with the true church at the rapture. Furthermore, chapters 4 and 7 begin with the words: "after this" to indicate "what will happen after this", i.e. after the rapture of the church. Another proof is Revelation 6: 10-11, because the language of the souls under the altar is not appropriate for the members of the Christian church, but corresponds to that of Israel, as it is expressed in the Psalms. So from then on we no longer have before us the saints of the present household of grace, but those from the people of Israel, who have once again taken their rights
In Romans 11:25 we also read explicitly that Israel will not be saved until the Full number of the nations, i.e. the Christian bridal church (the end-time saints are the fruits of the Jewish testimony). Although this is recognized, there is still no room for the circumstances pertaining to Israel, such as the seventieth week of the year determined literally for Israel ("your people") in Daniel 9: 24-27. Also comes the great time of tribulation, which is prophesied to the people of Israel in many all- and New Testament passages, about those "who dwell on the earth". Again, this is not the church, which does not "live" on earth, for its members are strangers and pilgrims here below (cf. Phil 3:20). So one can never apply what was said to the people of Israel to the Church without violating the train of thought of God's Word. May the Lord give us open eyes to "rightly divide" His word (2 Tim 2:15).
Online since 09/07/2006.
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