Signs of the Rapture -
Are There Any Bible Verses That Prove
A Pre Trib Rapture?
The Signs of the Rapture Are Not What Many Preachers Say They Are - A Careful Look at the Two Verses Commonly Used To Prove A Pre-Trib Rapture Timing, by John Lilley
Excerpt from the new book End Times Explained by John Lilley
How So Many Preachers Get The Rapture Wrong
Let’s analyze how many pastors, teachers, and “end-time experts” cause 75% of Christians to ignore the plain words of Jesus and believe the “Left Behind” version of the end times.
I’m sure most of these preachers aren’t purposefully trying to deceive people. However, when Jesus warned us in Matthew 24 about people coming saying He is the Christ yet “deceiving many”, He never said they were doing it on purpose! Just like “hurt people hurt people”, deceived people deceive people!
Many Christian pastors, leaders, and popular authors and speakers who are looked upon as “experts” by millions of believers (who don’t take the time to study the Word and seek God for themselves, or to test everything they hear as 1 Thessalonians 5:21 commands) deceive their listeners (and themselves first) in two simple steps.
First, they completely ignore (never mention) straightforward Scriptures, like Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:29-31, that plainly state the rapture will occur after the tribulation. Listen to someone who preaches a pre-tribulation rapture – you will never, ever hear them quote Matthew 24:29-31 (where Jesus said “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…” and then describes the rapture). If these preachers were to quote Matthew 24:29-31, they would find their “pre-trib” doctrine directly contradicting the simple, straightforward words of the Son of God!
And second, these preachers make blatant leaps of logic with their two favorite “rapture verses” (which I’ll talk about below) to try to infer that the rapture is going to occur before the tribulation. They must resort to leaps of logic and failed inferences because, as even the foremost “pre-tribbers” admit, there is no plain verse of Scripture that supports a pre-tribulation rapture.
The two main verses “pre-tribbers” like to use are
1) “God has not appointed us to wrath” (1 Thess. 5:9),
2) “he who restrains must be taken out of the way” (before the antichrist can show up) (2 Thess. 2:7).
Both of the arguments that use these verses to try to prove a pre-trib rapture rely on leaps of logic to make the verses say something they don’t really say. Let’s examine each of them, and what they say - and don't say - about the real signs of the rapture.
Let’s start with “God has not appointed us to wrath”.
Illogical "Pre-Trib" Argument #1
To say “since God has not destined Christians to experience His wrath, and therefore He must rapture us away before the tribulation”, assumes (RED ALERT! Leap of logic!) that the tribulation and the wrath of God are the same thing.
This line of reasoning is disproved by the simple fact that the tribulation and the wrath of God are not the same thing. First of all, they are two completely different words, both in the original Greek, and in English. “Tribulation” means “trouble, trying, testing”. “Wrath” means just that – God is ticked off and is doing something about it.
Just because you’re going through tribulation doesn’t mean God is mad at you. In fact, Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:1 that in the last days “difficult times will come” (“perilous periods” Concordant Version), and then in the same context, just a few verses later, tells Timothy that “all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.
Is Paul telling Timothy that God is mad and will pour out His wrath on those who desire to live Godly? Obviously not. Wrath (events caused directly by God because He is angry) and tribulation (difficult events that could occur for many different reasons) are two completely different words, and two completely different concepts.
So, when studying the end times we must be very careful to differentiate between things that occur directly because of the wrath of God, and things that occur merely as difficult, troublesome, or trying circumstances (for various reasons other than God directly saying “my wrath is causing this”).
Worldwide tribulation of Christians will be one of the signs of the rapture (or at least one of the signs that it is getting closer) - but many preachers would have you believe that the rapture will precede that tribulation. They are setting up their listeners for great disappointment and confusion.
So, is there a point in the book of Revelation where God says, “My wrath is now going to be poured out – the things that happen from now on are directly because of my wrath”? Yes, there is.
It’s Rev. 15:7, when the angel brings out the “7 Bowls of the wrath of God”. This marks a very clear delineation in the book of Revelation between merely tough, trying, testing times, and God pouring out His wrath. The Bible makes it clear that in general, the wrath of God does not begin until the 7 bowls, toward the very end of the crazy events in the book of Revelation – and yes, we will be raptured right before the 7 bowls, right before the wrath of God does actually show up. You’ll learn more about this as you keep reading.
Another important thing to note is that towards the beginning of the crazy events in the book of Revelation, at the 6th Seal, the people of the earth are saying “the wrath of God is here!” – but that doesn’t mean the wrath of God has actually come. It just means ignorant, clueless people – who are in total bewilderment about the events that are happening – are saying that. (Why is it that everybody ignores God most of the time and then suddenly think about Him when tragic things happen?)
You see, other than ignorant, panicked people mistakenly thinking God’s wrath has come in chapter 6, there is only one place in the book of Revelation where God Himself (or an angel representing Him, or the Word of God itself) declares that the earthly events that follow are occurring directly because of His wrath. This is recorded in Revelation 15:7 where seven angels bring out seven “golden bowls full of the wrath of God”. When the 7 Bowls arrive, it’s not just ignorant people panicking and speculating about “why this crazy stuff is happening”; it is clearly God saying, “Here comes My wrath”. It is very clear that all the events of the 7 Bowls are caused directly by God because of His wrath.
(By the way, the 7 Bowls of wrath will only last about ten days – see my book End Times Explained for more details. God’s wrath poured out on the people of the earth is kind of like a spanking – it doesn’t last very long, but it hurts, and the lesson lasts awhile!)
Before I move on I should point out that the Bible makes it clear there is only one other end times event that will occur directly due to God's wrath (not just as a result of trouble/tribulation) other than the 7 Bowls of wrath. I explain this other wrath-event fully in my book End Times Explained. Interestingly, it will occur before the 7 Bowls of wrath, while believers are still on earth. True to His Word that believers "are not appointed unto wrath", God has given clear instructions in His Word for believers to escape the effects of this "extra" wrath-event.
Unlike this "extra" wrath-event (which is the destruction of one specific nation), the 7 Bowls of wrath will be worldwide in scope and no one left on earth will be able to escape them. So God must get all remaining Christians out (away from the earth) before then; in other words, the rapture must occur before the 7 Bowls of God’s wrath begin to be poured out worldwide. So how can we know for sure, from the Bible, that we’ll be raptured before the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out?
You can read more about where the rapture is found in the book of Revelation in my book End Times Explained where I prove Scripturally and logically beyond a shadow of doubt exactly where the rapture is recorded in the book of Revelation and its timing relative to other end time events. When you read the book you will discover that God’s wrath in the form of the 7 Bowls will poured out on earth immediately after the rapture.
For the purposes of this article, the main point I want you to see is that, in an exact and perfect fulfillment of the Scripture that says believers “are not appointed unto wrath”, Christians will be raptured right before the wrath of God is poured out on earth.
Now, we must keep in mind that lots of crazy and terrible things (tribulation) will happen before we’re raptured and the bowls are poured out (Matt. 24:29). The last two of the 7 Seals (which are certainly still in the future) and the 7 Trumpets (all of which are still in the future) will be no walk in the park. And we – all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike – are going to be here for these events. That’s why Jesus told us in Matthew 24:29 that the rapture would occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days” – so the wise who hear His words and heed them, will be ready for it!
In my book End Times Explained I explain how God will provide a way of escape from the traumatic events of the 6th Seal through the 6th Trumpet(revealed in His Word) for those Christians who are wise enough to study these instructions in God's Word ahead of time. Jesus commanded His followers in Matthew 24 to “pray that you may escape all these things”. Some crazy and difficult things are going to happen during what Jesus called “the tribulation of those days”, but there is going to be a way of escape for the wise, from “all these things” that happen in the tribulation.
Unfortunately, most Christians are not going to know about the way of escape because most don’t study the Word in this area and they also neglect to pray that they’ll be able to escape. This is why the Bible describes a lot of Christians falling away from the faith (2 Thess. 2:3) in the end times, and it also describes many of those who do hold on to their faith getting caught (and beheaded, etc.) in the Antichrist’s persecution.
But there will be some who know what to do and where to go ahead of time, to escape not only the Antichrist’s persecution, but also all the other terrible things that will happen during the worst parts of the tribulation (the 6th Seal to the 7th Trumpet). If you read the chapter entitled "The Way of Escape" in End Times Explained you can be one of them.
Thank God for His escape instructions for us Christians who will still be on earth until the rapture occurs just before the 7 Bowls of wrath! Most Christians are terrified of the idea of a “post-trib” rapture because they don’t want to go through tough times. Well, we don’t have to – God has already given us simple escape instructions in his Word. But those who don’t study the Word enough to realize that they will be on earth during the tribulation, obviously don’t study enough to understand God’s escape instructions either.
Now let’s talk about the second verse “pre-tribbers” like to use to try to prove a pre-tribulation rapture.
Illogical "Pre-Trib" Argument #2
2 Thessalonians 2:7 states, “He who restrains must be taken out of the way” before the Antichrist can show up and start his worldwide persecution of Christians. Pre-tribbers like to try to use this verse to "prove" that the rapture must occur before the tribulation. However, this verse proves nothing of the sort. (And if it did, Jesus would have lied in Matthew 24:29 when He said plainly that the rapture will occur after the tribulation.)
Let's examine this verse. The primary question is, who is “he who restrains”? Pre-tribbers assume (RED ALERT! Leap of logic!) that “he” is the Holy Spirit. However, there is no “capital H” in the original Greek language to let us know that “he” is the Holy Spirit. It could be an angel. It could be someone else. We don’t know. We can’t prove anything using this verse because we don’t know exactly who “he” is.
Pre-tribbers also assume (RED ALERT! Leap of logic!) that because “he” (who they assume to be the Holy Spirit) is taken out of the way, that the Holy Spirit must completely leave the earth. (And then of course they say if the Holy Spirit goes, Christians have to go too.) Do you see how this is leap of logic on top of leap of logic, assumption on top of assumption?
Even if “he” is the Holy Spirit (which it might not be), couldn’t the Holy Spirit be taken out of the way of the Antichrist’s appearance, but not taken completely out of the world? In other words, the Holy Spirit could “step aside” and allow the Antichrist to come to power, but still live in us. Wouldn’t that fit the description of “taken out of the way” of the Antichrist?
Saying the Holy Spirit (If this verse is even talking about the Holy Spirit) or any other being must completely leave the earth in order to “get out of the way” of the rise of the Antichrist, is like saying I must completely leave the earth in order to get out of your way if you’re in a hurry walking down Main Street and I’m standing in your path. Ridiculous. I don’t have to leave the earth. All I have to do is step aside.
Can you see how this whole pre-trib nonsense is built on assumptions and leaps of logic? There is no solid logic or proof at all. Not to mention that if the "pre-trib" doctrine were true, Jesus lied in Matthew 24:26. Yet preachers everywhere declare with the utmost confidence, “We will be raptured and then the world will suffer through the tribulation!” And millions of Christians are deceived.
Not only are millions of Christians deceived, but they’re set up for a fall away from the faith when crazy and difficult things start happening – and they’re still here! Suddenly they’ll doubt everything their preacher told them, because their preacher never told them about the most important practical thing that would happen in their lifetimes (the 6th Seal of Revelation and the subsequent disasters which will essentially mark the end of the world as we know it - see my article on Wormwood/Planet X).
This is why the Bible commands each individual believer to “test everything and hold on to what is good”. Believers who don’t test everything their preacher says will pay the price.
I’m reminded of the Chinese Christians before Communism. When Communism took over China, there was a massive falling away from the faith. Why? Because all the Chinese preachers (who no doubt learned it from Western preachers) told their congregations, “We'll all be raptured away before anything really bad happens”. The same dynamic will occur on a worldwide scale when the antichrist takes over the world and starts persecuting believers.
The Origin of the “Pre-trib” Doctrine
Before I finish this article and give you links to my other articles on the rapture where you can get some clear, logical, and Scriptural information about the relative timing of the rapture and about how to escape the trouble and persecution of the tribulation, there is one more thing you need to know about the “pre-trib rapture” doctrine: It only became a “normal”, accepted church doctrine in the last two centuries.
For over 1900 years after Christ there was no such thing as a “pre-trib doctrine”. There was no such thing as a “pre-tribber” in the church at large until about 150 years ago. Pre-tribbers in the modern era have gone to great lengths to find a few isolated instances of a pre-trib rapture being spoken of in church history before the 1800s, but they have not been very successful, and the fact remains that Christians for hundreds of years up until the 1800s, including Jesus’ disciples, the apostle Paul, and the early church, believed what the Bible plainly says – that the rapture will occur after the tribulation and before the wrath of God (Matt. 24:26).
In the mid-1800s, a man named John Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethren, came up with the “pre-trib” rapture and a doctrine called “dispensationalism” in an attempt to solve a couple of doctrinal problems caused by his other doctrinal confusions! To put it bluntly he was confused about certain things in the Bible, and he came up with the “pre-trib” rapture and “dispensationalism” as a way to try to solve things he couldn’t figure out (although his original confusions can be easily cleared up in other ways which he obviously was not aware of).
For example, as part of his “pre-trib/dispensationalist doctrinal solution”, he said if an Israelite became a Christian, he was no longer an Israelite, because a person cannot be a Christian and an Israelite at the same time! Why would Darby ever say something so ridiculous? Because he was trying to solve a Bible problem he didn’t know the answer to...by making stuff up! I point this out to show you the ridiculous lengths to which Darby was willing to go to “figure things out” which he didn’t understand. When you don’t understand something about the Bible, you must ask God to show you the answer (help you see it logically in the Word), not invent doctrines that have no logical basis in the Word to try to force things to “fit”.
If you look at what Darby believed, it is a big mess of confusion trying to solve confusion. But unfortunately, since the days of John Darby this invention of “pre-trib” doctrine has spread to the point where most Christians now believe it! The idea of the pre-trib rapture and dispensationalism are now so commonly believed in mainstream Christianity that one faces great resistance when suggesting they’re garbage. (It makes me wonder if anyone ever reads Matthew 24:26 any more.)
"Pre-tribbers" complain when people like me point out that their pet doctrine did not appear until the 1800s. They say “stick to the Bible”. Yes, I don’t really need to point out that the pre-trib doctrine didn’t appear until a couple hundred years ago, because the Bible speaks for itself on the subject. Still, I maintain that it is important to understand why and how this doctrine came into being and the thinking processes of the man who invented it and made it popular. When you examine the thinking processes of John Darby in coming up with the pre-trib doctrine, you realize he was all confused about many, many things that have simple Bible answers when you don’t start out confused like he did.
For example, he came up with the idea of “imminence”, which says that “Jesus can return to rapture us at any moment” and “the rapture will occur before any of the crazy and difficult events predicted by Biblical prophecy occur” and “the rapture will not be understood by the world, they will have no idea what happened”.
Again, my friends, read Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:1-32. If you do, you will see that the truth is the exact opposite of Darby’s “imminence” invention. Jesus cannot come back to rapture us at any time, rather certain prophesied events which have obviously not occurred yet, must happen before the rapture occurs. At the rapture every tribe will see Jesus (and thus will realize exactly what is happening and why).
Pre-tribbers also like to claim that their doctrine of “Jesus can return at any moment” is true today, because this is what Jesus’ disciples believed. True, Jesus’ disciples (and the Apostle Paul too) at first believed Jesus would return in their lifetimes. Remember, in Acts 1:6-7 Jesus refused to tell them when He would come back and bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. Today we know this will not occur until the millennium but the disciples did not know that – at first they thought it would happen in their lifetime! But then two things happened to change their viewpoint.
First of all, certain prophetic events Jesus told them had to occur before He returned did not occur and it eventually became obvious to the disciples that there was simply not enough time for these events to occur within their lifetimes. This caused them to realize Jesus was not going to return before they died.
Second, the apostle Paul had his revelation directly from God about how Jesus’ death and resurrection was not just proof to try to make Israelites believe Jesus was the Messiah, but was also - and primarily - a means to bring salvation to all mankind. This thought seems so obvious to us today, but before Paul had this revelation, this thought had never crossed the disciples’ minds! Jesus talked about it in John 3:16-17 of course (to one man, in private), and John the Baptist pointed it out (saying Jesus was the one who would "take away the sin of the world") but it would have gone right over the disciples' and Israelites' heads because they were totally focused on only one thing - Rambo Messiah.
The disciples were Israelites, as was everybody Jesus preached to, and their whole mindset was the fulfillment of the OT prophecies for Israel, about Israel ruling the earth with the Messiah. This is why Israel rejected Jesus – because they were waiting for the Messiah to be “Rambo Messiah” and whup the Romans and take over the earth! The faith and spiritual perception of the 12 disciples is remarkable in that they stuck with Jesus (except at the cross) despite the fact that He seemed to refuse to fulfill what to them would have been the primary sign of His Messiahship!
Jesus’ message was for Israelites. So was the disciples’. It was “Israel’s last chance” before God gave the Gentiles a chance. The Father and Jesus knew Israel would reject this “gospel of the kingdom” (“Repent, accept Jesus as Messiah, and the kingdom will come soon!”). However, the disciples didn’t realize “Israel’s chance is gone and Jesus isn’t coming back anytime soon” until world events made it obvious that the prophetic markers could not be fulfilled in time for it to happen within their lifetimes.
And when Paul got the revelation that God had hardened Israel’s hearts so that God could give the whole world a chance, although the other disciples were slow to accept this, it eventually became obvious that he was right.
By the way, I’m not just pulling this stuff out of a hat, the last few paragraphs are the result of extensive research by many early church historians which sheds light on many of Paul’s statements in Scripture. We modern believers assume the Israelites, the disciples, etc. understood God’s whole plan. They didn’t. See Acts 1:6-7. And because we today don’t understand that they didn’t understand God’s plan like we understand it today, we get all confused about things they were never confused about! (Read that last sentence twice if you have to!)
See my article about "The Kingdom Time-Gap" in the More Questions section of this site to discover six massive areas of confusion in the average Christian’s mind that are solved simply and easily once you realize that Jesus’ and the disciples’ message was for the Israelites about repenting (works) so as to take part in the possibly-soon-coming-Kingdom (a message only God knew beforehand the Israelites would reject) while Paul received an entirely different message for the whole world which is salvation by grace alone (which will also be rejected by the world for the most part; to see why God allows this age and the next to end in total failure for the human race, see my article about God’s Plan For Mankind.)
My point for the purposes of this article is simply that just because the disciples at first thought Jesus would return in their lifetimes, doesn’t mean “imminence” is a correct doctrine today. Even the disciples knew Jesus would only return after certain prophetic events were fulfilled first. In fact, this is one of the main reasons they stopped believing in (their version of) imminence!
Today’s popular Darby-version of “imminence” says “Jesus can return at any time, so be ready – and don’t bother studying end-times prophecy, what’s the point?” This is a far, far cry from the “certain prophetic markers must be fulfilled first” “imminence” mindset the disciples were in before they realized Jesus wasn’t coming back in their lifetimes.
Also keep in mind that the apostle John, when he was an old man, received the vision that we now know as the Book of Revelation. So he certainly knew after receiving that vision that Jesus' return was not "imminent", but that certain detailed events had to occur first.
As if what I’ve just said isn’t enough, additional information in my article on The Rapture and the Revelation Trumpets enables us to be even more certain in ruling out Darby’s “pre-trib” “dispensationalist” nonsense as just that – non-sense! (You'll have to read it to see what I'm talking about.)
But unfortunately, most Christians don’t know much about the end times, and a big reason for this is that they have been lulled to sleep by Darby’s creative inventions. Darby’s “pre-trib” doctrine causes Christians to assume they’ll be gone by the time anything really bad happens on earth – and it also causes them to spend very little time studying end-time prophecy; after all, “If we’re gonna be gone anyway, why worry about it?”
And Darby’s dispensationalist doctrine causes Christians to ignore what is possibly the most important key to understanding God’s end-time timeline (a key which has to do with Old Testament prophecy and which I explain in my article on the #2 Little-Known Key To Understanding the Book of Revelation), because it has caused a general “the Old Testament doesn’t matter” attitude in Christianity.
The ignorance of many well-meaning Christians notwithstanding, it is ridiculous to accept Darby’s 19th-century twisted, confused doctrinal inventions when you can find the truth simply by reading Jesus’ simple, straightforward words.
Yet most of the church believes Darby over Jesus. Why? They’ve fallen for the lie that popular = trustworthy. Because they lack hunger for truth, they accept the “answers” given to them by the popular well-spoken best-selling author “experts” they trust instead of obeying the Bible’s command to “test everything and hold on to what is good”.
You see, the Bible says Satan is a liar and that he appears as an angel of light (messenger of truth). Satan is not going to come out with a neon sign that says “I’m about to deceive you!” before he preaches something false to you. No, he’s going to get great, talented communicators to write slick, entertaining, bestselling books that promote wrong doctrines. (I’m not commenting on the “Left Behind” authors’ motives, I’m only commenting on one of their doctrines.)
In any case, it is obvious that Satan (with God’s temporary permission in this age) has mastered the art of deceiving those who don’t love the truth enough to see through his tactics. The slicker and more professional the messenger, the better. Most people will fall for slick production values, clear communication, and “entertainment value”, even if the message being communicated directly contradicts the Bible (which the non-truth-seeking listeners don’t read much for themselves).
Satan knows his time is short and he will enjoy seeing millions of Christians being blindsided by end-time events they’re not prepared for. And he will no doubt enjoy persecuting, torturing, and beheading these Christians through his antichrist. Now, there’s no shame in dying or suffering for Christ – it’s actually a great honor. But why would Jesus say “Pray that you may escape all these things” (see Matt. 24) if He didn’t want to help us do it?
Jesus said that there is a way for you and your family to “escape all these things”! Jesus’ ultimate will for you is not that you be beheaded while your kids are taken away to be tortured as part of genetic and mind-control experiments or raped and sacrificed in a satanic ritual. (Yes, these are things that are being done even now on a smaller, secret scale by the satanic people who rule the world, and will probably be done to Christians during the tribulation. Being beheaded will probably be the nicest punishment you’ll get as a Christian in those days.) There is a good reason Jesus commanded His disciples to pray that they would escape all these things.
Again, why would Jesus tell His followers to pray for the power to escape all these things, if His followers are going to be raptured before they take place? Why would He say to pray for the strength to escape, if there’s nothing to escape from?
So you can see that the two main Bible verses “pre-tribbers” try to use to “prove” a pre-tribulation rapture, actually don’t prove anything of the sort – and even if they did, they would contradict not only Jesus’ plain words in Matthew 24:29, but also the rest of what Scripture has to say on the subject.
In my new book End Times Explained you'll learn some fascinating things most Christians don’t know about the timing of the rapture relative to other end time events. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to give you an exact date – but as I briefly explained, it can be narrowed down far more than most Christians realize.
In End Times Explained you can also find out God's Scriptural instructions for escaping the toughest events of the tribulation.
End Times Explained also contains many other fascinating pieces of information that are essential for the Christian to understand, such as:
* The rapture found in Revelation (you’ll be amazed you couldn’t see it all along!)
* 7 Little-Known Keys To Understanding the Book of Revelation
* AnEasy-To-Understand Revelation Timeline in “this will happen, then this…” story form – a logically provable explanation of virtually every passage in Revelation
* The secret to understanding the non-chronological “Interludes” at key points in Revelation, why God included them – and each “Interlude” explained
* Why God will allow the crazy events of the end times to occur
* The rarely-talked-about Old Testament passage that reveals how and why God sent the “4 Horsemen” of Revelation
* The watershed event that will be known as “the end of the world as we know it”
* Learn why according to the book of Revelation a “2012 Planet X Conspiracy” isn’t too far from the truth
* What the modern economy has to do with Revelation, and how its leaders are already planning the mark of the beast
* The most likely living candidate for the antichrist – a man that fits more literal Biblical criteria for the antichrist than any man in history (and no, it’s not Obama!)
* The shocking dual identity of Mystery Babylon – proven with logic and common sense from the Scriptures
* Why “aliens” could be a part of the great end times deception – and where they may be revealed in the Book of Revelation
* What to watch for, what to do, and where to go (when the time is right) – the Bible’s instructions for wise end-time believers
* Packed full of unique insights you won’t hear anywhere else
To learn more about the book click below:
The Signs of the Rapture Are Not What Many Preachers Say They Are - A Careful Look at the Two Verses Commonly Used To Prove A Pre-Trib Rapture TimingCopyright 2010 John Lilley
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