According to the Bible’s definition of the great tribulation, a pre-tribulation harpazo occurs anytime before Israel’s persecution starts at the abomination of desolation. Matthew 24:15-22 The majority view sees the harpazo prior to the beginning of the final seven years appointed to Israel, Daniel 9:27, but by the very use of “tribulation” in the term “pre-tribulation,” identifies the timing with that of the great tribulation. There is no seven-year tribulation spoken of in scripture, but this is usually called the seven year tribulation by many pre-trib proponents. As shown in the definition, and straight from Matthew 24:21, this time doesn’t start until mid-way through the 7 years. This also limits the time of the great tribulation to just over 3½ years maximum. Since the time of great tribulation begins at the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet in the midst of the 70th week of Daniel and it begins with the dragon’s persecution of the woman, the great tribulation is defined as the time the antichrist is after the saints on the earth. As Daniel 7:23-25 points out, “they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
While I don't hold this view anymore, I want to lay out some of the points made for the pre-trib view and for each point I will add my points against that view.
God Doesn't Deal With Israel and the Church Together
A view of the times and fulness of the Gentiles in Luke 21:20-26 and Romans 11:25 states that Jerusalem will be trodden by the Gentiles and that Israel will be blinded until the fulness of the Gentiles respectively. This would seem to clarify that God's plan for Israel would be apart from that of the Gentiles. Noting that Daniel 9:24-27 speaks directly to Israel and Jerusalem then, the Gentiles must be removed in order for God's plan for Israel to continue.
There are several symbolic connections to the catching away here in John's vision in heaven.
The 24 Elders and the Church
There are several symbolic connections to the catching away here in John's vision in heaven. In the vision of heaven, before any of the events of Revelation, John sees 24 elders:
Here we see the 24 elders are in heaven before any of the seals are opened. This would reinforce the idea that John being called up before what happens hereafter symbolizes the catching away and the 24 elders symbolize the church.
Why I don’t hold this belief anymore:
Now I used to hold the pre-tribulation view of the harpazo until I did my study on the term great tribulation. It was also after finding Luke 17:24-37, that I realized that when looking at the scriptures themselves, a pre-wrath harpazo was more apparent and fitting with the whole council of God. I think the main problem between all the different viewpoints is the fact that their harpazo timing revolves around “tribulation.” How you define “tribulation” changes your perspective on the harpazo because your harpazo is labeled in direct relation to the tribulation, pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib. It is imperative to define what “tribulation” you’re talking about, just as for the pre-wrath view it is imperative to define what “wrath” you’re talking about.
On 8/27/2020 Alan Kurschner, Chris White and Jud Johnson released their documentary Seven Pretrib Problems and the Prewrath Rapture on YouTube that I would highly recommend watching. (also here) Their website at https://7pretribproblems.com/ is also highly recommended. They more elequently address much of what I have here and delve into many modern counter arguments of pre-trib.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5
Pre-trib means before the great tribulation. That starts at the abomination of desolation, which is what the revealing of the man of sin is described as in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5.
Daniel spoke of the abomination of desolation in several places.
These are pointing to a point 1290 days before the end of the 70th week of Daniel where the daily sacrifice is taken away and the abomination of desolation “set up.”
set up (H5414)
I think that the abomination of desolation is described in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and it’s explicitly stated that the day of Christ will not happen unless those two conditions are met. The beast, or antichrist, has not revealed himself by declaring himself god in the Jewish temple, and since that starts the great tribulation, the Bible goes directly against the term pre-trib in reference to the harpazo because the great tribulation doesn’t start until after the man of sin is revealed.
I believe “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering to Him” is the “day of Christ” according to 2 Thessalonians 2:1,2 and these other scriptures:
The “day of Christ” is a day we as Christians look forward to as opposed to the day of the Lord, which is His wrath to which we are not appointed. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 I believe the day of Christ and the day of the Lord happen very close in time to each other, but I think the day of Christ is first, when He catches away His bride, the church. Ephesians 5:23 Regarding His wrath:
Notice that the sudden destruction is flanked on both sides with the coming of the Son of man. In other words, we should expect the sudden destruction about the same time as Christ’s coming for His bride. This is seen in the multitudes in heaven standing before the throne and before the Lamb after the sixth seal, Revelation 6:12-17, and before the seventh, Revelation 8:1,2.
The sudden destruction from God’s wrath does not occur before the man of sin is revealed at the abomination of desolation.
All this means that the wrath of God, associated with the coming of our Lord, can’t happen until after the abomination of desolation. This is in complete agreement with 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 which states that the falling away and the revealing of the man of sin must precede the coming of our Lord and our gathering to Him.
Also, related to Matthew 24:29-31 and Mark 13:24-27, we see in both of those accounts that after the signs of the sixth seal, the sign of the Son of man appears and his angels gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Some have taken this to mean that the sixth seal heralds the day of the Lord, but the gathering is after Christ has returned at Armageddon, related to Revelation 20:4-5. However, in the same depiction of this time, Luke words it a little differently, highlighting that this gathering is indeed the catching away of the bride.
Another reason for me not holding the pre-trib viewpoint of the harpazo has to do with an in-depth study of the day of the Lord and how that is connected to the wrath of God coming and also the sealing of the 144,000 and the vision of the multitudes in heaven before the throne.
First, I would like to point out another case where the changes in translation between the KJV and NIV subtly hide details from us. The differences are bolded.
2 Peter 3:8-10 (NIV)
Notice that in the KJV, we see that the destruction of the heavens and earth is within the “day of the Lord.” From verse 8, we see that this time period is 1,000 years long. So according to the KJV, this destruction is within the 1,000 year period whereas with the NIV translation, the destruction of the earth seems to follow the Lord coming like a thief.
However, since the Lord rules on the earth from Jerusalem, the heavens can’t pass away, elements melt with a fervent heat, and the earth can’t be burned up on the day of the Lord if it isn’t 1,000 years. The end of the 1,000 years of Christ’s rule will be with the great white throne judgment. Then the new heavens and new earth made way by the destruction of the current heavens and earth.
Now we see several other scriptures that label the day of the Lord as the wrath of God and that it comes like a thief.
Here we see the day of the Lord directly related to destruction from the Almighty. And once again, we see the sixth seal associated with the day of the Lord, describing the sun darkening and the moon darkening. I believe the moon turning to blood is literally a hunter’s moon, or lunar eclipse. This both darkens the light from the moon and turns it red. More on the other signs of the sixth seal and what I think they may be here.
I think it’s interesting how verse 10 starts with hiding under the rocks for fear of the Lord. That’s exactly what Revelation 6:15 says about the sixth seal! This fits perfectly with the wrath of God starting just about ½ hour after the seventh seal is opened when the trumpets begin to sound God’s wrath upon the earth.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The day of the Lord does come like a thief in the night. However, we are not in darkness like the world such that this day won’t surprise us, we’ll be watching for it. Notice also that the sudden destruction comes upon them and they shall not escape. Notice also that we are not appointed to wrath but salvation by our Lord Yeshua the Christ. Those are in direct opposition to each other. Some do not escape (those in darkness) while those who are not in darkness are not appointed to that wrath that comes suddenly like a thief in the night. The Lord is taking something from the earth, our current house. He is taking His bride before His wrath comes upon this house.
What this all shows me is that the Bible places the day of the Lord as the beginning of God’s wrath. We are not appointed to that wrath, but are told we will escape from this time that comes upon all them the dwell on the whole earth. To not be a part of that group receiving the wrath of God, we must not be on the earth.
This all shows a transition at one point in history. The day of the Lord is God’s wrath coming on the earth. Since our harpazo to Him is after the revealing of the man of sin, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, and before God’s wrath, see here for all the scriptural proof, then before the day of the Lord comes, we are removed. More specifically, I believe it is simultaneous. I believe that’s why the “day of Christ” is differentiated from the “day of the Lord.” Even though they are the same time, it’s a matter of perspective. For the unbeliever, it is a scary time of God’s wrath coming on them. For the Christian, it’s the day of Christ, the blessed hope we’ve been waiting for.
I would also like to point out that God’s wrath is completely poured out by Christ’s return in glory to take the kingdoms. The day of the Lord can’t be post-trib then because that’s when His wrath begins and just the fifth trumpet is 5 months of demon locust stings. The seven trumpets and seven bowls will take longer than 5 months to be poured out on the children of disobedience.
As far as the timing, there are several pivotal scriptures. Joel 2:31 states that the day of the Lord is after the sixth seal.
Matthew 24:29-31 places the sixth seal “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” What days? What tribulation? We only have to look to earlier in Matthew 24 to see that it is the unparalleled time of great tribulation which Yeshua said would require the obedient in Judea to run to the mountains to survive. Notice it was in Judea. Jeremiah 30:4-7 and Daniel 12:1 both make the same claim of describing a time of unparalleled trouble in all of history and once again, it’s focused on Israel.
Revelation 12:13-17 shows that Satan’s wrath is initially just on the Jews. At that time, the majority will be living in Judea. However, as verse 17 points out, there are a remnant throughout the world that Satan will go after when he can no longer get the woman in Judea. Revelation 12:14 states that Israel is protected from the dragon for 3½ years.
Daniel 12:11 states that from the Abomination of desolation is 1290 days. The time of great tribulation starts at the abomination of desolation and continues for 42 months (3½ years). Revelation 13:1-5
So if Israel’s protected from the dragon for the same time the dragon is given power, how can he get Israel? The answer is the 30 day period after the abomination of desolation. See the chart below:
What this all means when put together is that the sixth seal is about 30 days after the abomination of desolation. Around this time, Israel is taken to the wilderness and the 144,000 are sealed. This is also the time that the bride of Christ is caught up before God’s wrath.
I believe this will be the “fullness of the Gentiles” from Romans 11:25-27 and the point when Israel is unblinded. I believe this will also be the point when Israel becomes jealous of the bride because they’re unblinded and realize what is going on somewhat.
What’s more is the sealing of the 144,000 and the fulfillment of Luke 21:36 is seen in Revelation 7, nestled nicely between the sixth seal in Revelation 6 and the seventh seal and trumpets in Revelation 8! Could it be this placement is not an accident given the scriptural evidence above? I believe that to be the case.
As The Days of Noah
Another reason I don’t hold pre-trib to be valid comes from how Christ is described as coming, in relation to the days of Noah.
The days of Noah consist of the time from before the flood until the door to the ark was shut by God and the flood came and took all those who didn’t believe by faith away. What this tells me is that the Son of man comes when the wrath of God, destruction from the Almighty, comes. This is defined as the day of the Lord.
So God’s wrath is the beginning of the day of the Lord and is associated with the shaking of the heavens. We know the great tribulation starts with the abomination of desolation according to Christ, who refers to Daniel’s 70th week and places the abomination of desolation in the midst of the week. To place the day of the Lord (God’s wrath) in that timeline, we need only look at Matthew 24:29, which connects again the shaking of the heavens after the sixth seal as Isaiah 13:6-13 does. The wrath of God is the beginning of the day of the Lord and according to Joel, that comes after the sixth seal.
This places the destruction after the sixth seal, which is after the abomination of desolation. The abomination of desolation starts the great tribulation. Matthew 24:37-42 associates the coming of the Son of man with the sudden destruction of the flood. The similarity of God closing the door to the ark is also there as the door to heaven no man can shut. So it would seem to me that this passage is talking about the coming of the Son of man at the time of sudden destruction, which places our harpazo “at the last day,” which is the day of the Lord, just before the sudden destruction comes.
This cannot be pre-trib because the “trib” started prior to the wrath of God and Matthew 24:37-42 associates the coming of the Son of man with God’s wrath and the sudden destruction. This also enlightens us as to why we don’t know the day or hour of His coming. Because if we did, everyone could and the time is supposed to come suddenly and unexpectedly upon the children of disobedience. This shows everyone who really desires Christ and who could care less until they’re in trouble. The bride is comprised of those who love God and give themselves to Him during the good times as well as the bad. They’re completely in love with their Creator. That’s what a marriage should be built on anyways right? Mutual love for each other?
Tempers on this subject always seem to flare, but we need to be one body and one mind on what the Word of God says. I was once very sure about pre-trib and defended it with what I knew. I feel I was wrong. However, I had to come to that conclusion on my own. I had to be willing to drop my pre-conceived notions in exchange for a frank, honest look at scripture without the lens of pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, or pre-wrath among other lenses. It seems to me that the coming of the Son of man is associated with sudden destruction as in Noah’s time. Same with Lot, the just are removed from the destination of God’s wrath, then it comes. In both examples from the past associated with the coming of the Son of man, the destruction immediately follows the removal. For Noah and family, the removal into the ark to be elevated above the destruction. God closed the door. With Lot, they were moved from the destination of God’s wrath and it came so soon that they were able to turn and watch the destruction take place if they desired to become salt. In both cases however, the wrath immediately followed.
We know that the abomination of desolation starts the great tribulation by which pre-trib defines the harpazo. We know also that the day of the Lord, destruction from Almighty, is after the sixth seal (Joel 2:31), which is “immediately after the tribulation of those days,” the time of Jacob’s trouble. Any way you look at it, this is after the tribulation has begun so it must not be a pre-trib harpazo. This is in accordance with 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 as well.
I posit that the coming of Christ for His bride is impending indeed! However, I also believe from my research of the Bible that we truly aren’t in the dark about this time. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 I also believe that everything we need to know in order to not be in darkness about this time is contained in the Bible, which was written by the prophets of old as led by the Holy Spirit. We therefore need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to fully understand the detail written into scripture.
Yes it is true that we don’t know the day or hour. But where else in scripture is there any indication we don’t know the week or month or year? Not knowing the day or hour has prevented many from looking deeper into scripture in the area of timing because they then feel they are date-setting.
However, the closer we get to the end, the more prophetic events from the end we will begin to see come to pass, and our understanding of the meaning of scripture will increase.
My point is that the Bible itself, with an understanding of history and Bible prophecy, lays out a complete timeline of events with incredible precision all centered around the apple of God’s eye, Israel and her judgments. Israel has been blinded since the triumphal entry. Luke 19:41-44 That blindness to the Truth will remain until the fullness of the Gentiles. Romans 11:25
God gave very specific prophecies to Ezekiel, Daniel, and John (Revelation) about the future of Israel and how that plays out in the timeline of history. I can’t stress this enough, that God wrote into the Bible exact timeframes that lay out the judgments allotted for Israel and can be connected to historical events that bring us to this very day in Bible prophecy and lay out the 70th week of Daniel in great detail with exact days between events. The judgments of the Old Testament for Israel bring us to right now in history and the clock is almost at midnight! The Lord’s coming is imminent indeed, but that doesn’t mean it could be at any time. God’s plan is set in stone from the foundation of the world. We just don’t know the day or hour of the harpazo because it occurs very close to the day of the Lord, which is supposed to come like a thief in the night to the unsuspecting children of disobedience. But again, we aren’t in darkness about this time. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Please examine the group of Bible studies in HIStory, Our Future: Pearls for the Bride as they lay out the historical judgments of Israel that lead to our time now. I believe you will see why the 70th week of Daniel started at the end of those prophesied judgments, it’s time for God to save Israel and that’s what the 70th week is, the completion of the future of Israel as prophesied to Daniel in Babylon over 2,520 years ago!
I will address some points from The Doctrine of Imminency: Is It Biblical?
Dr. Gerald Stanton wrote:
I believe 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 directly contradicts the idea that the harpazo is the next event on the prophetic timetable. I believe the day of Christ is the beginning of the day of the Lord, just from different perspectives.
We as the bride of Christ are not appointed to God’s wrath. Tribulation, yes. Persecution, yes. God’s wrath intended for the children of disobedience, NO. Luke 21:34-36 directly addresses our escape from the wrath of God, which is fulfilled after the harpazo as seen in Revelation 7:9. God’s wrath is coming on all them that dwell on the whole earth. Therefore, to escape it, we must not be on the whole earth. That is where the harpazo comes in. (I’m pre-wrath for these reasons)
The children of disobedience to God are prophesied to have this sudden destruction come upon them suddenly and they won’t escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
According to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, the day of Christ will not come unless there is a falling away first, and the man of sin is revealed. It goes on to describe the abomination of desolation when the man of sin sets himself up as an idol to be worshipped in the Holy of holies in the rebuilt temple. That is also the beginning of the great tribulation according to Christ. Matthew 24:15-22 It is also connected by Christ to Daniel, who says that the abomination of desolation is in the “midst of the week,” which is the 70th week of Daniel.
Therefore, the idea of a pre-trib harpazo being the next event doesn’t fit with Bible prophecy because it also talks about:
All these things lay out an exacting plan which lists several events in Bible prophecy that will happen before we are caught away. Therefore, the harpazo cannot be the next event we’re waiting for.
Dr. Gerald Stanton wrote:
I’ve found that understanding the details of God’s plan has completely taken away any fear because there is understanding about the future and faith in the Bible brings the realization that the future is known by those who love God and trust His Word! Also, as I pointed out above, knowing the details of God’s plan reveals that there are events that will unfold before the harpazo of the bride.
What concerns me is that those who look to the harpazo as the next event put a mental block in their mind many times preventing them from connecting current events to Bible prophecy because their view is set already that they only need to watch for Christ. While I don’t believe this takes away their salvation nor prevents them from going in the harpazo as long as they keep watching, Christ told us to watch and gave us details about all the things that would happen to watch for.
Given my personal studies and seeing them laid out in scripture and history while seeing prophetic fulfillments that fit with Bible prophecy now, I’m amazed at how few believers recognize the times we are in. We’re supposed to be watching and I want everyone to have an open mind guarded by the Word of God. Acts 17:11 If someone has set it in their heart that a perspective is correct, they are more prone to disregard other information that doesn’t fit with that perception. Look at history and you can see this pattern repeated for any concept. Evolution is a big one. I’m not associating pre-trib with evolution, but rather trying to bring to light a concept brought to light in the two quotes I opened with. This goes for pre-trib, pre-wrath, and post-trib alike.
As the body of Christ we need to be united, and the Bible is that singularity that should bring us together as one. However, we all need to read it the same way. The only way we can do that is if we all agree that what the Bible says, it means and that all symbology should be interpreted from within scripture itself. This way, we add nothing and take nothing away from the Word. I know it’s easier said than done with some, but the end is coming and we will be united then. I just believe the Bible gives us what we need to be united in Spirit and Truth RIGHT NOW!
Dr. Gerald Stanton wrote:
I agree that it will be unexpected. I believe we don’t know the day or hour of the harpazo because it comes just before God’s wrath does. The Bible says that the children of disobedience will be caught unawares. If we knew when the harpazo was, the world would know when the destruction was, but the Bible says they won’t. Therefore, we cannot know the day or hour of the harpazo either. It is however set for an exact day and hour since the beginning.
I do believe that the harpazo will be announced though.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
And again, I disagree on the harpazo being next on the agenda given the studies referenced above.
Dr. Gerald Stanton wrote:
This leaves the only possibility that Gog/Magog takes place before the abomination of desolation and after today, since Israel is not really living in peace and Gog/Magog hasn’t happened yet.
The news is also pointing to peace developing in the Middle East, pushed forward by the 7-year ENPI, which “breathes new life” into the 1995 Barcelona Conference’s Euro-Med agreement. And as prophecy would have it, the group putting forth this ENP is based out of the same footprint nations of the Roman Empire. Daniel 2 relays a statue which has the same metal that makes up the two legs (Roman Empire) and the feet/10 Toes. Since the EU has 10 voting member states, it seems to all fit quite well.
Dr. Gerald Stanton wrote:
I disagree with his interpretation of what the “great tribulation” is. I define this term by what causes it’s beginning.
This has nothing to do with God’s wrath. It has everything to do with Satan’s wrath.
God’s wrath doesn’t start when Satan is cast to the earth. It starts after the time of Jacob’s trouble, when Israel is protected from the dragon. It starts soon after the sixth seal.
According to Matthew 24:29-31, the sixth seal is immediately after that unparalleled time in Matthew 24:15-22, which is the time of Jacob’s trouble. Jeremiah 30:4-7 | Daniel 12:1 This time period of Jacob’s trouble can only be 30 days maximum. (Revelation 13:5 | Revelation 12:14 | Daniel 12:11 -- Revelation 13:5 [1260 days] starts when Daniel 12:11 [1290 days] does at the abomination of desolation. Revelation 12:14 says Israel is protected for 1260 days. Therefore, since the dragon does get 2/3 of Israel, Zechariah 13:8,9 | Revelation 12:13, those exact same time periods must be offset. See chart below)
Dr. Gerald Stanton wrote:
I think because of Daniel 12:4, we should expect that we will have more understanding of the details as time goes closer to the end. They were told back then that they wouldn’t know the day or hour and that it was yet future. However, until Israel became a nation again, the fig tree putting forth it’s leaves, the end couldn’t come and so neither would Christ for His bride...yet. In the vein of understanding Bible prophecy, I think we have a better, more clear perspective now than they did then. That clarity also reveals other truths in scripture as I’m trying to present here that give more clarity than they had in the early church to understand the details of what was written. We have the same Bible, but we also have the keys occurring around us to connect history to Bible prophecy, and therefore reveal the future through the lens of scripture.
Dr. Gerald Stanton wrote:
But we should use the exact nature of Bible prophecy to define our foundation. Look at all the exact day prophecies that lay out our framework. We need to have that framework before building the rest of the house. It’s based solely on scripture and using the only common language, numbers. No misinterpretation will occur there unless we don’t accept them for what they say.
Dr. Gerald Stanton wrote:
It’s a good way to keep the body of Christ in constant awareness of their place in God’s plan. Clearly though God’s plan is set in stone and spelled out for us. They may have said the Lord could come at any time back then, but He didn’t. In fact, He couldn’t because for almost 2,000 years, Israel was blinded by God. They couldn’t understand as a nation if they wanted to. That blindness will be lifted in the near future.
We should apply that same understanding now and trust that everything we need to know to be good watchmen is contained completely in the Bible. God said He wouldn’t do anything without revealing His plans to His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7 Look at the example at Sodom and Gomorrah as He told Abraham about the coming destruction. He also called us friends and that the master tells his friends what He is doing. This means that if we’re told to watch, we will be given the information to understand what we’re looking at. That’s what is contained within Bible prophecy, the framework from which to watch events unfold! Christ will return at a set time, we just are told we won’t know the day or hour of that set time. Looking at the fulfilled prophecies, it’s all laid out in a framework of certain timeframes. 2,520 | 1,260 | 1,290 | 14,000 | etc. This is God’s fingerprint on our history, showing that He is always in control. The only time we are told we won’t know is the day and hour.
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