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Inheriting the Kingdom
the Pre-tribulation Rapture
The New Wine System affirms that salvation is a free gift. There is nothing we can do to add to what Christ did for us on the cross. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Salvation cannot be earned by works.
Yet, according to the New Wine System, lots of work is required in order to inherit the kingdom. Those of us who are saved must then seek the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. Only those who seek the kingdom will inherit the kingdom. Only those who seek His righteousness to overcome sin will inherit the kingdom. Salvation is a free gift. But to inherit the kingdom requires lots of work.
But what does this have to do with the pre-tribulation rapture? The difference between simple salvation and inheriting the kingdom is to truly deny ourselves, and to take up our crosses and follow Christ. Belief in the pre-tribulation rapture is a fearful response to the reading of Revelation. And yet Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing for reading and taking to heart that which is written within (Revelation 1:1-3). We read Revelation and it scares us. Instead of knowing that God will protect us, we put our faith in the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine, which has no explicit support in Scripture. Verses must be taken out of context, assumptions must be made that are not supported by Scripture, and the natural reading of Scripture must be abandoned. But the pre-tribulation doctrine is popular because Christians do not want to go through the tribulation in Revelation.
Is there a danger in the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine? Yes, there is lots of danger in this doctrine. It makes people believe they are ready for Christ to return when they still have sinful habits in their lives. They could be one of the foolish virgins, who do not have enough oil in their lamps. (The amount of oil is the only difference found in the parable between the wise and the foolish virgins.)
The foolish virgins say that the only thing required to get into the wedding banquet is belief in Jesus. How does belief in Jesus translate into not enough oil? They have some oil, but not enough. The oil cannot represent belief because either you have accepted Christ as Savior, or you haven't. Either you are a believer, or you are not a believer. There is no quantity/amount involved. The oil involves works that lead to the overcoming of all our sinful habits.
This gets to the heart of the debate between Lordship Salvation and Free-Grace Salvation. The New Wine System doesn't require Lordship for salvation. But it does require Lordship to inherit the kingdom and to be part of the Bride of Christ who will reign with Christ during the millennium. The foolish virgins will not go to hell. They will simply be a part of the nations during the millennium.
The foolish virgins will say, "Lord, Lord open [the door] to us." Jesus will reply, "I don't know you. Watch therefore, for you don't know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matthew 25:12-13).
And that's exactly what pre-tribulation rapture advocates claim for everyone! Jesus says this to the foolish virgins who do not get into the wedding banquet; not to the wise virgins who are able to enter. Pre-tribulation rapture advocates apply this to everyone! They say that nobody will know the day or the hour of the rapture. We don't know the day as yet. But we will know after we see the abomination. It will be 1335 days after the abomination (Daniel 12:12).
Revelation 3:2-3 Wake up, and keep the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. (3) Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you won't watch, I will come as a thief, and you won't know what hour I will come upon you.
The foolish virgins do not have enough oil, which comes from works, to get into the wedding banquet. Likewise, Jesus tells the church of Sardis to wake up because their works were not perfected before God. Just like the foolish virgins, they are warned that if they don’t watch, Jesus will come as a thief, and they won’t know the hour that he will come. But this is exactly what advocates of the pre-tribulation rapture proudly apply to themselves and to everyone else! We currently don’t know the day of Christ’s return. But the wise will know before it happens.
The foolish virgins, and the church at Sardis, say they won't be going through the great tribulation. They say they are not meant for God's wrath. This is true. But neither are the so-called tribulation saints. Do those “left behind” become believers meant for God’s wrath? Or can God protect them? If so, then why do we cling to a pre-tribulation rapture doctrine using such faulty arguments? Again, it’s because of our fear of Revelation. It’s our fear of the great tribulation. It’s because we think about ourselves and our own security more than we think about others. It’s because we have not learned to take up our cross and follow Christ.
Our suffering should be as nothing in comparison to the works God would have us do. Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 1:3-10 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; (4) who comforts us in all our affliction , that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (5) For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ. (6) But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. (7) Our hope for you is steadfast, knowing that, since you are partakers of the sufferings, so also are you of the comfort. (8) For we don't desire to have you uninformed, brothers, concerning our affliction which happened to us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, so much that we despaired even of life. (9) Yes, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, (10) who delivered us out of so great a death, and does deliver; on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us;
This writing by Paul is the true spirit of one who knows what it means to take up his cross and follow Christ. The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine teaches us that we will be leaving this world before Christian suffering really begins. The doctrine teaches that we will be leaving those who suffer, and those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior. The doctrine teaches that we want to abandon the ones who will be “left behind.” Such thinking is not the thinking that Paul demonstrated.
God has always used the Church to bring others to Christ. Nobody comes to the Lord without being drawn by the Holy Spirit, and it’s usually as a result of the witness of a believer. Are pre-tribulation rapture advocates against missionaries? They claim that the Holy Spirit, and all the missionaries, and all the witnesses of Christ will be removed at the time when they are needed the most. When the antichrist is revealed, the Church and the Holy Spirit will be needed the most.
There is a time of great tribulation for God’s people that is coming. It’s in the second half of the seven-year period. However, the first half is a time of great awakening. It’s a time of revival. The spiritual temple of God (as well as the physical temple) will be built during that time. It’s a time when the two witnesses will be preaching. It’s a time when God will be using all of us. It’s a time when there will be a lot more work that is left to be done.
And don’t fall into a belief in a mid-tribulation rapture either. All the Scriptural evidence indicates the rapture is after the great tribulation. Therefore, God has a purpose for us even in the great tribulation. All things work to the good of those who are called according to His purpose. This includes the great tribulation. Tribulation brings holiness. We must overcome sin before we can inherit the kingdom. We must overcome sin before we can be caught up in the rapture.
The New Wine System shows that there is a big difference between simply being saved and inheriting the kingdom. But the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine tends to hide that difference. Jesus told us to watch and be ready for his return. The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine helps convince us that we are ready for the rapture when actually we are not. Only those who are willing to die for Christ, in order to further the kingdom, are actually ready for the rapture. Only those who truly seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and have overcome all sinful habits in so doing, are ready for the rapture. There will not be a pre-tribulation rapture because most of the Church is not ready. And there will not be a pre-tribulation rapture because God has more work for us to do, so that others will find faith in Jesus Christ, and so that we can inherit the kingdom.
During the time of great tribulation, many people will take the mark of the beast. This mark is a knowledgeable and explicit rejection of Jesus Christ as Savior. Those who take the mark will no longer have the opportunity for salvation. According to the New Wine System, only those who deliberately reject Jesus Christ will go to hell. Everyone else will still have the continued opportunity to accept Christ as Savior, and to mature in Christ for eternal salvation during the Messianic reign. But those who take the mark of the beast reject their free gift of salvation, and will not be saved.
We see people dying all the time without Christ. It has become the norm for us, because we think that only a few will be saved. But the New Wine System shows us that people from every nation, tribe, people, and language is only the tip of the iceberg for the total number of people who will eventually receive eternal life. For those who really care about the eternal souls of others, the time of great tribulation that is coming is the most important time in all of history. We must be there to minimize, as much as possible, the number of people who will take the mark of the beast. We need to overcome our fear of the great tribulation and to have faith in Christ even if it means our death.
The purpose of this article is to show that the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is false. It’s based on taking verses out of context, and upon invalid assumptions. Anyone who simply reads the following two verses in a natural way knows that the rapture is “immediately after the tribulation.”
Matthew 24:29-31 says:
Matthew 24:29-31 ESV "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (30) Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ESV For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel , and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
Are these two verses speaking about the same event, or two different events? Pre-tribulation advocates claim that 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is the rapture, and that Matthew 24:29-31 is the “glorious appearing.” Applying two separate terms to these verses makes you interpret it as two separate events. But look at the similarities. If it’s two separate events, then this event happens twice. The word ‘rapture’ comes from the Latin, and means “caught up.” This word has always meant our being gathered into the clouds when Christ returns. And the word was around long before Darby introduced the pre-tribulation rapture in 1830. As we can see, the rapture happens in both of these verses. God’s people are “caught up” into the clouds, by the angels, at the sound of God’s trumpet. However, since Matthew 24:29 clearly states it happens after the tribulation, pre-tribulation rapture advocates must believe these are two separate events.
No pre-tribulation rapture advocate doubts there is also a post-tribulation gathering of the elect. Some will say Matthew 24:31 is not a gathering into the clouds, but instead it’s a gathering to Jerusalem. But this does not fit the context of even Matthew 24 itself. Verse 40 and 41 speak of two men in the field. One is taken and the other is left. Two women will be grinding grain. One will be taken and the other one will be left. In Luke 17:34-35 we see an account of the two women grinding with one taken and the other left. We also see two people in bed at night. One is taken and the other is left. This can only be interpreted as a disappearance of some people during their ordinary chores. Do they disappear and then re-appear in Jerusalem? No, Jerusalem is not mentioned in the passage. This disappearance of people is in the very same context as Matthew 24:31, where the angels in the clouds “gather together his elect.” By context, they are gathered into the clouds and the angels are doing the gathering. How can this event not be the rapture? Bottom line is verse 29, in which this gathering is to be “immediately after the tribulation of those days.”
Some will agree that the disappearance of people while in bed or working is the pre-tribulation rapture, but that the gathering of the elect, in verse 31, is a different event. The pre-tribulation advocate would likewise believe that the date for which “no one knows the day or the hour” to be the pre-tribulation rapture. The problem with this view is context. Verse 36 says, “No one knows about that day or hour.” The gathering of the elect is just five verses earlier. That’s the context of the day that no one knows about. To say there is another day that no one knows about, in which people disappear from their beds, is to take these verses completely out of the context of the gathering of the elect in verse 31. A pre-tribulation rapture event is not mentioned in the passage. In order for the unknown day and hour to refer to a pre-tribulation rapture event, such an event would have to be included in the text. Likewise, the text about the men in the field and the women grinding grain follows the text for the gathering of the elect. Context dictates that these verses are also describing the gathering of the elect that’s mentioned in the passage.
Two men are working in the field. Two women are grinding at the hand mill. Two people are in bed at night. Pre-tribulation rapture advocates ask whether Christians and non-Christians would be working together at the end of the tribulation. The answer is yes. I think there will be lots of people left who will have not taken the mark, but are not yet ready for the rapture. Perhaps they will be in poorer countries like India, where the politics of the world will not be enforced at first. They will live with natural bodies into the millennium.
Read Luke 17:24-37. Two women are grinding grain together, and one is taken (verse 36). The disciples ask, “Where, Lord.” The answer given is, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” We also find the dead bodies and vultures in Matthew 24:28, which is in the post-tribulation time frame. In other words, God’s people disappear in the same time frame of Armageddon. The dead bodies and the vultures is a reference to Ezekiel 39:17-20, which is very similar to the feast of birds on flesh in Revelation 19:24. In other words, the birds feeding on dead bodies is an obvious reference to Armageddon. In Revelation 16:15-16, Christ comes as a thief (verse 15) right before Armageddon (verse 16).
Pre-tribulation rapture advocates have said that the disappearance of people while in bed or working must be the rapture because it’s in a time when people are saying peace and safety. It will be as in the “days of Noah … before the flood, [when] people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark” (NIV Matthew 24:38-39). The argument is based on an incorrect assumption that during the 42-month reign of the antichrist, the bowls of wrath will be poured out. This does not seem to fit a time similar to the days of Noah before the flood. However, the book of Revelation does not teach that the bowls of wrath will be poured out during the 42-month reign of the antichrist. Isaiah 26:19-21 teaches that the wrath of God is after the resurrection.
The following is a list of very common arguments that are used by pre-tribulation rapture advocates. As we will see, each is based on assumptions not made by Scripture, or taking verses out of context.
1) Because the rapture is said to be imminent . Matthew 25 :13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” This verse is argued as saying that no man will know the day or the hour right up to the time that it occurs. But in context, it’s saying that no man currently knows the day or time, so we should watch for the abomination of desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, so that we will know the day and time. More is given about this topic in sections A6 and A7 below.
2) Because the rapture is said to be the “blessed hope.” Titus 2: 13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” There is a blessed hope of his glorious appearing before the great tribulation. Hebrews teaches about the hope of the coming heavenly city of God. The New Jerusalem will appear before the great tribulation. But this does not mean the Bride will be ready for the rapture. Most of the Church is still in sin. Most of the Protestant Church claims that you can’t overcome sin. And most of the Catholic Church assumes they will have to spend time in purgatory. Seven more years of the New Covenant will be decreed in order that the Church can overcome sin and get ready for wedding banquet.
3) Because there is no mention of the church after Revelation Chapter 4. This argument is based on the assumption that the so-called “tribulation saints,” who are mentioned after Revelation 4, are not part of the Church. It’s based on an “us-and-them” mentality that divides Jew and Gentile.
Paul says that not all are Israel that are of Israel (Romans 9:6). Not all of Abraham’s seed are Abraham’s children (Romans 9:7). Those who are in Christ are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise of Abraham (Galatians 3:29). Paul says there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. The unbelieving Jews were broken off of Israel. The Gentile believer is grafted into Israel. If the olive tree is not Israel, then from what were the unbelieving Jews broken? The context of the whole passage of Romans 9-11 is all about Israel and the issue that the Jews rejected the Messiah.
Therefore, all saints are either a natural branch or a wild branch of Israel. There is no difference. The pre-tribulation rapture assumes a difference and then says the Church, meaning Not Israel, is not mentioned after Revelation chapter 4. I’m not advocating replacement theology. We don’t replace Israel. God’s eschatological purpose for Israel will be fulfilled in all of Israel, both Jew and Gentile.
4) Because the Lord has not appointed us to wrath . Pre-tribulation rapture advocates recognize that God’s people, called the “tribulation saints” will be around during the great tribulation. They are not appointed to God’s wrath as they go through the tribulation. Yet somehow this argument is used in saying that we won’t be around during the great tribulation. This become another “us-and-them” argument. We are supposed to be able to avoid the great tribulation. But Israel, who become believers in Jesus Christ as Savior, seem to be around during God’s wrath. There are two invalid assumptions being made here. First is that there is a difference between Jew and Gentile. But Paul says there is not. Secondly, the assumption is made that the wrath of God is poured out during the great tribulation.
It’s been assumed that the bowls of wrath occur during the second half of the seven-year period. But Isaiah 26:19-21 teaches that the wrath of God is after the resurrection. Nothing in Revelation teaches that the bowls of wrath are during the 42-month reign of the antichrist. See section A9 below for more information.
5) Because of the removal of the Restrainer, assumed to be the Holy Spirit, who indwells all believers. The Holy Spirit is assumed to be the restrainer that Paul refers to in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8. The text does not say the restrainer is the Holy Spirit. It can be easily shown from Daniel 10-12 that the restrainer is Michael the Archangel. Also, the Holy Spirit is needed in order to draw men to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. If the restrainer is removed, then how are the “tribulation saints” drawn to Christ? The “us-and-them” mentality causes the pre-tribulation advocate to not give the tribulation saints much thought when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that if he did not leave, the Holy Spirit would not come (John 16:7-11). It could be that after Christ sets up his millennial reign, the Holy Spirit will no longer draw men to Christ. But Christ’s millennial reign will not be in place during the great tribulation. The Holy Spirit will still be needed to draw people to Christ. See section A8 below for more about Michael the restrainer.
6) Because of the Old Testament types of the rapture . Enoch was removed from God’s wrath before the floods came. But God’s wrath is after the resurrection, not during the great tribulation. Lot was delivered from Sodom before the fire fell. But the post-tribulation resurrection is before God’s wrath. Noah was lifted above the floodwaters. Again, God’s wrath is after the resurrection. The six bowls of wrath do not happen during the 42-month reign of the antichrist.
7) Because of the twenty-four Elders in the book of Revelation. The 24 elders of Revelation do seem to be humans who once were mortal here on the earth. But that doesn’t mean they represent all the Church. The number ‘24’ seems to be literal and not figurative. The term ‘elder’ suggests they are very old and not the newly raptured Church. They seem to be 24 individuals. Perhaps one is Enoch. Perhaps another is Elijah. Perhaps the rest are others who “walked with God” and were caught up as special exceptions to the general revelation and the rapture. I also believe the 144,000 will receive their spiritual bodies on or before the seven-year covenant.
8) Because Jesus said, “In my Father's house are many rooms. ... I go and prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2-3). This verse is sometimes used as an argument for the pre-tribulation rapture. But what is to say that we don’t get these rooms after the tribulation instead of before? Probably the main reason that dispensationalists use this verse is because of their belief that the Church is separated from Israel during the tribulation and the millennium. They believe the Church goes to heaven while Israel remains on the earth.
Does this sound like God’s plan for the apple of his eye (Zechariah 2:8)? Will Israel miss out on going to heaven? There is no difference between Jew and Gentile. We are grafted into Israel. The difference between the wise and the foolish is that the foolish do not overcome all their sinful habits before the New Jerusalem appears and the tribulation begins. Of course the majority of the Church fits this category. They will be given the opportunity to mature in Christ during the tribulation. Those who are wise at the time of the rapture, which is at the end of the tribulation, will be given spiritual bodies and rooms in the Father’s house (New Jerusalem). Then we will reign with Christ over the earth during the thousand years.
9) The Church cannot be overcome by Satan, but the Tribulation saints are conquered. This is another “us-and-them” argument. We are generally portrayed as given greater rewards than those who become believers after the rapture. This argument, of the saints being conquered, is based on this verse:
Revelation 13:7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation.
This is not a spiritual battle for the souls of the believers. The antichrist literally conquers the world, including Christians. Christians are not immune to being conquered by the armies of the world. And it has happened many times in the past. This verse in Matthew is used to make the claim that the Church cannot be conquered.
Matthew 16:18 ESV And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Does this mean that ISIS (or ISIL) should not have been able to conquer the Christians in Iraq and Syria? Does this mean that Muslims of the past should not have been able to conquer the city of Jerusalem? If so, Jesus was a false prophet. Jesus is not saying that armies will not be able to conquer his Church. Hades means grave. The gates of Hades means to enter the grave. This verse is not talking about demonic wars. Jesus is simply saying that the Church as a whole will not die out. And even if the gates of Hades means demonic wars, it would still not apply to physical wars where armies of the world are able to conquer Christians.
The antichrist does not spiritually conquer the saints. When we get to the point where we are willing to take up our crosses, and die for Christ, then we become the spiritual conquers. The “tribulation saints” actually conquer the antichrist because of the word of their testimony and their love for Christ, even unto death. They are willing to lose their heads rather than take the mark of the beast. They are physically conquered. But spiritually they conquer the antichrist as it says in the following verse.
Revelation 12:10-11 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (11) And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
10) The verb “caught-up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is a much stronger word than the verb for “gather” in Matthew 24:31. Because Paul uses a stronger word than the word used by Christ, it’s been argued that these must be two separate events. However 2 Thessalonians 2:1, a clear reference to the rapture, uses the noun “being gathered.” In the Greek, it’s the noun form of the same verb used in Matthew 24:31. See section A11 below for more information.
The original argument for the pre-tribulation rapture was made in order for dispensationalism to work. In other words, the pre-tribulation rapture and dispensationalism go hand in hand. If one fails the test of Scripture, both will fail. Dispensationalism claims that the Church is a “parenthesis” between two “dispensations” of Israel. The Church is a heavenly purpose of God and Israel is an earthly purpose. God must remove the Church in order to switch back to Israel. The problems with dispensationalism is covered in chapter 33 of my book titled, “Daniel and Revelation.”
Most people try to read Matthew 24 in context. We read the Scripture with careful “exegesis.” The American Heritage Dictionary says this word means, “Critical explanation or analysis, especially of a text.” This means we try to understand what the author meant to say by following the author’s flow of thought, and by carefully looking at the context of the text. In Matthew 24, Jesus mentions the abomination of desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel. The abomination of desolation can be found in Daniel 9 and also in Daniel 12. But few have really tried to interpret Matthew 24 with Daniel 12 as its major background text. Doing so brings forth obvious interpretations of Matthew 24 that are a bit harder to see without this background material.
When we compare Daniel 12 to Matthew 24, many confusing points about Matthew 24 become clear. The problem is that many verses of Daniel 12, for years, have been taken out of context. How often is Daniel 12 studied as a whole, in one context? I hope to show that a good understanding of Daniel 12 is essential for the proper understanding of Matthew 24. And when we properly understand Matthew 24, any arguments for the pre-tribulation rapture disappear. As we will see, Daniel 12 is a condensed Olivetti Discourse.
Daniel 12:1-2 "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book. (2) Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Daniel 12:6 One said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
Matthew 24:3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?"
Daniel 12:8-10 I heard, but I didn't understand : then said I, my lord, what shall be the issue of these things? (9) He said, Go your way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. (10) Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand .
Matthew 24:36 But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Daniel 12:11 From the time that the continual burnt offering shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred ninety days.
Daniel 12:12 Blessed is he who waits , and comes to the one thousand three hundred thirty-five days.
Daniel 12:13 But go you your way until the end be; for you shall rest, and shall stand in your lot, at the end of the days.
1 – Michael the Restrainer (2 Thess. 2:7) takes a stand (Daniel 12:1). See the section below titled “Who is the Restrainer” for more information as to why this verse is the removal of the restrainer, spoken of by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
2 – The Greatest Tribulation of all time (Matthew 24:21, Daniel 12:1)
3 – The Resurrection (Daniel 12:2)
4 – The big mystery question: “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” (Daniel 12:6) “Tell us, when will these things be?” (Matthew 24:3).
5 – The big mystery answer: “It shall be for a time, times and half a time.”
6 – Daniel did not understand the answer (Daniel 12:8).
7 – The answer is sealed until the time of the end. None of the wicked will understand the answer. But the wise will understand the answer to the question at the time of the end. But until the time of the end, not even the wise (including Daniel) will understand the answer (Daniel 12:9-10). At the time of Christ, not even the angels in heaven understood the answer. No man knew the day or hour [time] (Matthew 24:36).
8 – A sign, however, is given: “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.” (Daniel 12:11 NIV) Based on context, the 1290 days is from the abomination to the resurrection.
9 – Jesus echoes the words of Daniel saying, "When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, let the reader understand” (Matthew 24:15).
10 – The rapture is not directly mentioned in Daniel 12. The dead do not have to wait during the 1290 days. They are dead. However, those who are alive at the rapture are those who will have waited for and reached the end of the 1,335 days. “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” (Daniel 12:12 NIV) Therefore, the resurrection precedes the rapture. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
11 – Daniel rests until the time of the end, when he will be resurrected. (Daniel 12:13)
Traditionally, the “time, times, and half a time” of Daniel 12:7 has been thought to mean three and a half years. And without doubt, the “time, times, and half a time” of Daniel 7:25 is three and a half years. “The saints are handed over to him for” three and a half years. This is the 42 months of Revelation 13:5. But does that necessarily mean the “time, times, and half a time” of Daniel 12:7 is also three and a half years? It’s my feeling that people have misinterpreted the question because they have assumed the answer. The question was, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” (KJV Daniel 12:6) When it’s read naturally, the start of this time period is the time in which the question is asked. But since people have believed they knew the answer, they have assumed a start of the period that’s not given in the text of the question. Plus, what is the more natural question to have been asked? If you were told for the first time about this greatest tribulation of all time, and then the resurrection, would you not want to know when it will happen?
Another point to consider is that the “time, times, and half a time” of Daniel 7:25 and Daniel 12:7 do not use the same Hebrew / Aramaic words. Both have the pattern of singular, plural, and half of the singular. But it’s not the same word. One is in Hebrew and the other is in Aramaic. In the case of Daniel 12:7, the word has more of the meaning of a season or an era.
Daniel didn’t understand the answer to the question. Daniel was told that the understanding of the answer is sealed until the time of the end, which according to verse 13 is the time of the resurrection. If the answer to the question is three and a half years, why would the understanding have been sealed, and then plainly stated in verse 11? 1290 days is about three and a half years. But that can’t be the answer because the answer is sealed. We have incorrectly assumed the answer and thus we have misread the question. Our incorrect assumption about the answer has effectively sealed our understanding of the question and its answer over the centuries. The question being asked is the big mystery question. It’s what everybody wants to know. It’s, “When will all this happen?” Again, the question reads, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” (KJV Daniel 12:6) The question does not specify a starting point. Therefore, the question is asking how long, from the time the question was asked, until the resurrection.
With this background of Daniel 12 in place, let’s take another look at Matthew 24. The disciples asked the same question, “When will all this happen?” To be accurate, “all this” was in reference to the destruction of the temple. But the disciples’ question also asked for the signs of Christ’s coming (Parousia), and the end of the age. The disciples, at that time, didn’t understand that the destruction of the temple would not happen at the time of the resurrection. But they seemed to be familiar with the concept of the end of the age, as taught by Daniel 12. They seemed to understand that Christ would return at the time of the end. No doubt Jesus had taught his disciples about the prophet Daniel.
This very same teaching can be found in the parable and symbol we know as the thief in the night. Refer to section A7 below about the thief in the night. A study of that parable and of all the uses of the symbol shows that it’s only the world (wicked) who will be surprised. The wise will understand and know the day and time of Christ’s return. “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).
Jesus gives a few early signs, such as wars, famines, and earthquakes. Jesus says these are the beginnings of the birth pains, which is a reference to Isaiah 26:17-21. Next, Jesus gives us the major sign for which we are to watch. Daniel 12:11 tells us that from the abomination to the resurrection (by context) there are 1290 days. So Jesus gives the same major sign. The abomination of Daniel 11:31 was fulfilled in 168 BC by a statue of Zeus on the temple mount. This would indicate the abomination to come is also a statue on the temple mount for the world to worship. While we should also consider the abomination of Daniel 9, it’s most likely that Jesus was primarily referring to this abomination in Daniel 12, because Daniel 12 has so many parallels to the Olivetti Discourse.
Notice the verse again: “When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, let the reader understand" (Matthew 24:15). Considering the background of Daniel 12, what is the reader to understand? This is not the reader of Matthew. It had not yet been written when Jesus said these words. Jesus is talking about the reader of Daniel. And Daniel had been told that not even the wise would understand the answer to the question until the time of the end (Daniel 12:8-10). The wicked will not understand, but the wise will understand at the time of the end. Jesus is saying that when we see the abomination, then the wise reader of Daniel should understand the answer to this big mystery question. The reader of Daniel will know the number of days until the resurrection. But that won’t happen until the time of the end. And then only the wise will understand. So Jesus is saying let the reader be one of the wise who will understand.
In verse 21, Jesus tells us about the time of “great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (ESV). This corresponds to Daniel 12:1, which speaks of the “time of [tribulation] such as never has been since there was a nation till that time” (ESV). After the time of great tribulation is the resurrection (Daniel 12:2).
But the disciples were not asking about the resurrection. They were asking about the second coming (Parousia) of Christ. It would seem from Daniel 12:13, that the rapture happens 45 days after the resurrection. Jesus describes details of the second coming (Parousia) (Matthew 24:27) as the blowing of the trumpet and God’s chosen (elect) being gathered into the clouds. Later on, this omission of the resurrection would cause some confusion in the church of the Thessalonians. Some of them had died since the time of Christ, and there was concern as to whether or not their loved ones would see the second coming (Parousia). But Paul assures them that the resurrection would happen first (1 Thessalonians 4:15). So Paul comforts them with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Paul is not introducing another second coming (Parousia) (1 Thessalonians 4:15) of Christ.
Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning flashes from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will be the (Parousia) coming of the Son of Man.
After describing the second coming (Parousia), Jesus tells the parable of the fig tree. Many people believe the fig tree is the nation of Israel. But Jesus could simply be giving a small parable about watching for signs themselves. A better way to see the nation of Israel in the Olivetti Discourse is to look over at Luke 21:24. "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). In 70 AD, the Jews were taken as prisoners to all the nations. Today, for the first time since 70 AD, Jerusalem is no longer being trampled on by the Gentiles. Therefore, the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. At least it’s fulfilled within the adult generation that saw Israel take Jerusalem in 1967.
Matthew 24:32-34 "Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near. (33) Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (34) Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished.
When the fig tree’s leaves get tender, we know that summer is near. I believe the generation that does not pass away, until all the signs have happened, is the baby boom generation, which started right after World War II. Israel became a nation right after, and as a result of, World War II. So there is no problem in saying that the “summer is near.”
The problem lies in the very next sentence. Jesus says, “Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” The fig tree is a parable about the signs themselves. Right now the “summer is near.” But we must see “all these things” before we know time “near, right at the door.” “ All these things” includes the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation. No doubt the fig tree is Israel, and that the rebirth of Israel was a major sign. But in this parable, when we associate the fig tree strictly with Israel, and not as signs of the end times, people tend to conclude that it’s already “near, right at the door.” But the Scripture is very clear about this point. We are not “near, right at the door,” until we see “all these things,” including the abomination and the tribulation.
The Olivetti Discourse must be interpreted with the background of Daniel 12. In Daniel 12, the major sign given which precedes the resurrection is the abomination. From the abomination there are 1290 days. The abomination is also the major sign given in Matthew 24. So we are not “near, right at the door” until we see the abomination. Then we will be able to calculate the number of days until the resurrection (1290), as well as to the rapture (1335).
Today, pre-tribulation rapture advocates claim that we are already “near, right at the door,” even though we have not yet seen “all these things.” Pre-tribulation rapture advocates have unknowingly deceived many people with this ever since Israel became a nation, and even before. In Luke 21:8, Jesus tells about the many who will come in the name of Jesus and teach, “The time is near.” Jesus says not to follow them. And in the very next verse Jesus says the end will not happen right away. We must see “all these things” before we see the end. We must see “all these things” before there is going to be a resurrection or the rapture.
Luke 21:7-9 They asked him, "Teacher, so when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are about to happen?" (8) He said, "Watch out that you don't get led astray, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is at hand.' Therefore don't follow them. (9) When you hear of wars and disturbances, don't be terrified, for these things must happen first, but the end won't come immediately."
Pre-tribulation teachers don’t like to be associated with Luke 21:8. They say it’s talking about false christs. But false christs do not come in the name of Jesus. And false christs would not say, “The time is near.” False christs would say that christ has already come. Instead, these false teachers are acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ. The “I am he” (ego eimi) in the verse is Jesus referring to himself. In other words, the words of Jesus do not directly quote the false teachers. But even if you insist that these are false christs, would you want to be echoing this bad teaching of false christs? Jesus is clearly telling us the bad teaching which says “the time is near” before we see “all these things.” This is the Doctrine of Imminence, which is this false teaching. Jesus tells us not to follow these false teachers.
The baby-boom generation is the generation that sees “summer is near.” We are the generation that will not pass away until we see “all these things.” It’s OK to say the time is getting near as long as it’s clear that the abomination and the tribulation must come first. We can say, “The summer is near.” But to say it can happen at any moment is the false doctrine that Jesus warned us against. From the perspective of the Olivetti Discourse in Daniel 12, the wise at the time of the end will understand the answer to the question. From this fact, you can deduce that there would be an end-time generation that can understand the answer to the question. I believe that’s what Jesus was teaching.
We are continuing to examine Matthew 24 with the background of the Olivetti Discourse in Daniel 12. In Matthew 24:36, we read about the unknown day and hour. Then Jesus illustrates his point using the days of Noah, the two men in the field, and the two women grinding at the hand mill.
Pre-tribulation advocates insist that the unknown day and hour will remain unknown right up to the point of the rapture itself. But think about it from the perspective of Daniel 12. The big question of Daniel 12 is the same as asked by the disciples. “When will all this happen?” The answer was given in Daniel 12, but the understanding of that answer is sealed until the time of the end. At that time, the wise will understand the answer. But the wicked will not understand the answer. So the understanding about the unknown day and hour remains sealed until the time of the end. When we see the abomination, the wise (and only the wise) will understand because the resurrection will be 1290 days later, and the rapture will be 1335 days after the abomination.
People use the “no man knows” verse to argue a pre-tribulation rapture. They make the verse refer to a rapture that’s not even in the chapter, instead of to the rapture (gathering) just five verses prior. This is taking the verse out of context. Such flawed reasoning is the basis of the doctrine of imminence.
When Jesus said “no man knows” did he really mean that from that time forward, the rapture could have happened at any moment? What he really teaching the Doctrine of Imminence? If so, then from the time that Jesus said, “No man knows the day or the hour,” the rapture could have occurred at any time after that. In the context of Matthew 24, the abomination of desolation is required before the return of Christ. But the doctrine of imminence states that no additional signs are needed before Christ returns. Christ predicted his own crucifixion and resurrection. Does “no man knows” mean the rapture could have occurred before that? Christ predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit. Does “no man knows” mean the rapture could have occurred before Pentecost? Christ predicted the destruction of the temple. Does “no man knows” mean the rapture could have occurred before 70 AD? Christ predicted the death of Peter. Does “no man knows” mean the rapture could have occurred before Peter was crucified?
Christ predicted that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all the nations, and then the end would come. Does “no man knows” mean the rapture could have occurred before that? Pre-tribulation rapture advocates say the seven-year tribulation begins with the antichrist signing a treaty with Israel. But how could the antichrist sign a treaty with Israel before Israel again became a nation? Does “no man knows” mean the rapture could have occurred before Israel became a nation in 1948? If the rapture could not have occurred before all these signs were fulfilled, then how can it be a doctrine that was true ever since Christ said, “No man knows the day or the hour?” Or could it be that Jesus was saying these signs must take place first? Does “no man knows” mean the rapture could have occurred before the abomination of desolation? If not, the resurrection is 1290 days later. The doctrine of imminence does not stand the test of Scripture. It’s a false doctrine.
Some will argue that the rapture could not have occurred before all these previous signs, but it could occur before the abomination, simply because after the abomination the day of the resurrection will be known. But would the disciples have interpreted Jesus’ words as meaning that all signs must first take place except for the big one that Jesus just mentioned? The only argument for assuming the abomination of desolation is not one of these signs which must take place first is the assumption of the doctrine of imminence itself. And at that point, the argument becomes circular reasoning. The pre-tribulation rapture would be used to argue the doctrine of imminence, and then the doctrine of imminence would be used to argue the pre-tribulation rapture.
Jesus did not say that no one would ever know the day or the hour. He simply said that no one currently knows the day or the hour. Understanding the verse from the background of Daniel 12 makes it clear. To insert that word ever into the interpretation changes the tense of the verb. Here is Young’s Literal Translation of the verse, which does a better job of showing the correct tense of the verb:
Matthew 24:36 YLT And concerning that day and the hour no one hath known — not even the messengers of the heavens — except my Father only.
Notice that Jesus says that not even the angels understand the answer to the question. In Daniel 12:5-6, it was an angel who originally asked the big mystery question. Perhaps the angel understood the answer, but was asking the question for Daniel’s benefit. But apparently Jesus interpreted it to mean that not even the angel who asked the mystery question understands this mystery answer.
Daniel 12:5-6 Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, there stood other two, the one on the brink of the river on this side, and the other on the brink of the river on that side. (6) One said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
Daniel 12:8-10 I heard, but I didn't understand : then said I, my lord, what shall be the issue of these things? (9) He said, Go your way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. (10) Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand .
Matthew 24:36 NIV "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
The wise should watch the signs so that we will know. The wicked will not know the day or the hour. But the wise will understand the answer to the question. If we are to be removed before these signs happen, then why did Jesus ask us to watch for the abomination in the first place?
Matthew 24:36 ESV "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
What about knowing the hour? Most likely Jesus was not speaking about a 60-minute hour. The terms “day and hour,” in English, are usually seen as the specific hour of a specific day. But the point Jesus is making is that no one, at that time, knew the answer to the question. Not even Christ, at that time, knew when He would return. (He probably does know now.) The Greek word for “hour” often means a time, not the hour of a specific day. For example, in John 2:4, Jesus said “My hour [to do miracles and ministry] has not yet come” (ESV). It’s the same Greek word. Jesus was saying the time for the three or four years (3 ½) of his ministry had not yet come. The NIV translates the same verse as “My time has not yet come.” Likewise, Matthew 24:36 could be translated as, “And concerning that day and time no one hath known.”
The seven-year period prior to Christ’s appearing in the clouds can be considered as the “time” of Christ’s return. It fits the context because in verses 15-29 Jesus speaks of the time of great tribulation. It’s this entire time-period, of which he has spoken, that is in answer to the disciples’ question. It’s this entire time-period of the great tribulation that no one hath known when will come. The unknown day is the day Christ will appear in the clouds. The unknown time is the time-period which precedes that day. When we see the time of the great tribulation, we will also know the day Christ will return. It will be 1290 days after the “abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel.”
“No one knows the day or [time].” According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word for “knows” (eido) is “used only in certain past tenses.” The word can also be translated as “understand.” As shown earlier, Young translates it as “No one hath known.” This Greek word cannot place restrictions on whether or not one will know in the future. Here are some other places in the gospels where the same Greek word is used in the negative to say that someone does not know something: Matt. 20:22 , 22:29, 26:70, 26:72, 26:74, Mark 4:13, 9:6, 10:38, 12:24, 14:68, 14:71, Luke 9:55, 23:34, John 1:26, 2:9, 4:22, 4:32, 7:28, 9:12, 9:21, 9:25, 9:29, 9:30, 10:5, 12:35, 13:7, 14:5, 15:15, 19:10, 20:2, 20:9, 20:13, 20:14 , 21:4. None of these verses imply that they would never know. In many cases, later they did know. For example, in Mark 4:13, we read, “And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable?” Did Jesus mean that the disciples would never understand the parable?
Today we don’t know (understand) the exact day when the rapture will happen. But when we see the abomination of desolation, we will know. We will understand the answer to the big mystery question. The doctrine of imminence is a false doctrine.
The doctrine of imminence states Christ could return at any moment. J. Dwight Pentecost is one of the most famous dispensationalist theologians. Since 1965, he served 35 years on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary. In his book “Things To Come”, (over 215,000 copies sold without a revision), copyright 1958, Ch. XIII, Sect. 2-I, page 202, on “The doctrine of imminence,” Pentecost writes:
Many signs were given to the nation Israel, which would precede the second advent, so that the nation might be living in expectancy when the time of His coming should draw nigh. Although Israel could not know the day nor the hour when the Lord will come, yet they can know that their redemption draweth nigh through the fulfillment of these signs. To the church no such signs were ever given. The church was told to live in the light of the imminent coming of the Lord to translate them in His presence.
Let’s think about what Dr. Pentecost is saying. We are taught, “No one knows the day or the hour.” So the rapture can happen at any moment. If the rapture were post-tribulation, so the reasoning goes, then we could compute 1290 (or 1335) days from the abomination (Daniel 12:11-12). Therefore, the rapture must be pre-tribulation. Because the rapture is pre-tribulation, Dr. Pentecost reasons, the signs are not for the Church, but for Israel. Yet, according to Dr. Pentecost, not even Israel can know the day or the hour. “No one knows.” And these signs are given for Israel. So I guess he thinks the tribulation saints are going to be too stupid to do the calculation once they see the abomination.
Ok, so perhaps Dr. Pentecost misstated the pre-tribulation rapture position. Perhaps the pre-tribulation rapture position holds the words, “No man knows,” to be addressing only the “secret” coming (Parousia) and not the coming (Parousia) as given in Matthew 24:27-31. Let’s think about the idea that the pre-tribulation rapture is imminent, and this is thus a doctrine of Scripture. Dr. Pentecost goes on about the doctrine of imminence:
This doctrine of imminence, or “at any moment coming,” is not a new doctrine with Darby, as is sometimes charged, although he did clarify, systematize, and popularize it. Such a belief in imminence marked the premillennialism of the early church fathers as well as the writers of the New Testament.
So, Dr. Pentecost believes this doctrine goes all the way back to the New Testament. I guess Dr. Pentecost did not fully think about the ramifications of 2 Thessalonians 2.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 ESV Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him , we ask you, brothers, (2) not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (3) Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
The man of sin must be revealed before “our being gathered together to him.” Is this not a sign that must precede the rapture? If so, the doctrine of imminence would be false. “No,” the pre-tribulation rapture advocates will claim. “The Holy Spirit is the restrainer,” they say, “and when the Holy Spirit is removed in the rapture the man of sin will be revealed at the same time.” (See section A8 below for problems with the Holy Spirit being the restrainer.)
OK, so how is the man of sin revealed? “Well,” say the pre-tribulation rapture advocates, “The man of sin is revealed when he signs a covenant with Israel” (Daniel 9:27).
OK, how could there have been a covenant with the nation of Israel, before it came into existence in 1948? Would not the appearance of Israel in 1948 be a sign that had to come before the rapture could take place? If so, would that not disprove the doctrine of imminence? Was the doctrine of imminence true only true after 1948? Yet Dr. Pentecost says the doctrine of imminence goes all the way back to the writers of the New Testament. “But,” the pre-tribulation advocate might counter, “Israel existed at the time of the New Testament writers.”
OK, so perhaps the doctrine of imminence became false in 70 AD, but became true again in 1948. Yet Dr. Pentecost says the doctrine was not new with Darby. So it must have been true at the time of Darby and before. Darby wrote in 1830, long before Israel became a nation. Dr. Pentecost also says the doctrine of imminence existed at the time of the early church fathers. All the writings of the early church that we have were written after 70 AD. Bottom line is the doctrine of imminence is a false doctrine. The New Testament writers were hopeful of the (Parousia) coming of Christ. But they understood that the great tribulation must come first.
As we have seen, the existence of Israel as a nation has been a sign that had to precede the rapture, disproving the doctrine of imminence. Another event that had to precede the rapture was the death of Peter. In John 21:18-19, Jesus told the disciples how Peter would die at an old age. Perhaps the disciples didn’t think about it. But the rapture could not have happened before Peter’s death. Otherwise, Peter would not have died as Christ had foretold.
It may surprise the pre-tribulation rapture advocate to learn that Paul actually taught against the doctrine of imminence. To see this, look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. The letter or rumor Paul was dealing with alleged that the day of the Lord had already come (verse 2). It concerned the coming of the Lord, and our being gathered unto him (verse 1). If the day of the Lord were understood by the Jews as a single 24 hour day, it would have come and gone long before a rumor or letter could get around. We must interpret Scripture the way ancient Jews would have understood. The day of the Lord is the Messianic Age to come.
Paul couldn’t say, “Hey look, we have not yet been caught up in the rapture!” That’s because the day of the Lord was not a 24 hour day. Also, if the day of the Lord is defined as being a time period beginning at the start of the tribulation, and if Paul believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, then Paul could have also said, “Hey look, we have not yet been caught up in the rapture!” So, in order to dispel the rumor or letter, Paul had to give a sign that must occur before the age to come, and our being gathered unto Him. He was preaching against the doctrine of imminence. In other words, certain signs and events do have to occur before Christ will return. It can’t happen at any moment.
We are continuing to examine Matthew 24 with the background of the Olivet Discourse in Daniel 12. In Matthew 24:42-51, we read about the thief-in-the-night parable. This is the original source of the thief-in-the-night symbolism. The word "watch" (KJV), in this verse, indicates that the thief comes at night. Other translations, such as the NIV, actually use the word ‘night.’ This doesn't necessarily mean that Christ will come during nighttime hours. (More about that later.) The parable is about a servant who is either wise or wicked. And the issue, according to verse 42, is not knowing what day the Lord will come. If the servant is wise, he will know the day. If the servant is wicked he will not know the day (verse 50). So those who are wise will know the day. They will watch the signs and know the day from the signs. Those who are wicked will not know the day or the time.
Matthew 24:42-51 Watch therefore, for you don't know in what hour your Lord comes. (43) But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. (44) Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don't expect, the Son of Man will come. (45) "Who then is the faithful and wise servant , whom his lord has set over his household, to give them their food in due season? (46) Blessed is that servant whom his lord finds doing so when he comes. (47) Most certainly I tell you that he will set him over all that he has. (48) But if that evil servant should say in his heart, 'My lord is delaying his coming,' (49) and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with the drunkards, (50) the lord of that servant will come in a day when he doesn't expect it, and in an hour when he doesn't know it, (51) and will cut him in pieces, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.
The concept of the wise, who will understand, and the wicked, who will not understand, comes from the original Olivetti Discourse in Daniel 12. The wicked will not understand the answer to the question in Daniel 12. They will not know the answer to the question, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” (Daniel 12:6). They will not know the day or the time (hour). But the wise will observe the abomination of desolation and will know the day of Christ's return.
Pre-tribulation rapture advocates use the thief in the night symbolism to say that the rapture will be “secret”, and can happen at any moment. But most pre-tribulation rapture advocates seem to be unaware of where this symbolism originates. They are simply assuming its meaning by the fact that a thief comes when you don’t expect him to come. However, it’s only the wicked that will be surprised.
The thief comes to steal. What is the Son of Man coming to steal? He is coming to take away his Bride. The house is the world, owned by the Master but controlled by Satan. Christ is coming into the house ruled by Satan to steal His Bride from Satan’s kingdom. The world will not know the day or the time. But the Bride will know, because the Bride watches the signs of His return. Read verse 50 closely. Is it the good servant or the wicked servant who will not know the day when Christ returns? It’s the wicked servant that will not know the day or the time. But the Bride will know. Right now, no one knows the day. But after enough of the signs have been given, the Bride will know. The closer we get to that day, the better we will know (verses 32-33). But the wicked will remain in darkness.
The thief in the night symbolism continues: In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Paul describes the rapture in the same way Jesus did in Matthew 24:29-31. Then, in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, Paul refers to the thief in the night. In so doing, Paul is making reference to the parable given to us by Jesus. Paul also makes it clear that it's the world that does not know when Christ will return. But the Bride is not in this darkness (verse 5:4). In verse 5:1, Paul says that he does not need to tell us the times and the seasons (which is to say, the day and the time (hour).) Why? In verse 4 he tells us why. The Bride is not in this darkness. The Bride will be able to understand the signs. So the Bride will know the day and time (hour).
1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that anything be written to you. (2) For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. (3) For when they are saying, "Peace and safety," then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way escape. (4) But you, brothers, aren't in darkness , that the day should overtake you like a thief.
Another use of the thief in the night symbolism is 2 Peter 3:10. Peter associates this symbol with the day of the Lord, as does Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. The day of the Lord is not the day of Satan. The antichrist is allowed to rule for a short period of time in order for the Bride to get ready. But then Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet are defeated.
The next use of the thief in the night symbolism is Revelation 3:3. Jesus says that it’s those who do not wake-up (NIV) or watch (KJV) who will not know the hour of his return. Jesus is telling the people at this Gentile church at Sardis to repent or they will not know the time (hour) of His return. Those who watch the signs, and make themselves ready, will know the time (hour). The world, however, will not know the time (hour) of Christ’s return. This is not to say that these Christians at Sardis will not be saved if they do not watch. It’s saying they will be like the wicked, who will not know. If they do not watch (or wake up) they will be saved. But they will not inherit the kingdom. Let’s read this verse carefully:
Revelation 3:2-3 Wake up, and keep the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. (3) Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you won't watch, I will come as a thief, and you won't know what hour I will come upon you.
Pre-tribulation rapture advocates will quickly say that “no man knows the day or hour.” By this they mean that no man will know the day or hour right up to the time of the rapture. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Since pre-tribulation rapture advocates believe that no man will know the day or the hour, they would include themselves. Yet this verse makes it clear that not knowing the day or hour is a bad consequence for a lack of repentance.
All of the previous uses of the thief-in-the-night symbol are future tense. “If … thou shall not watch … thou shall not know” (KJV). But the final use of this symbol is in the present tense. In Revelation 16:15 Jesus says, “Behold, I come like a thief.” That’s when it happens. This is after the sixth bowl of wrath (Revelation 16:12-14), and before Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). So the rapture is after the great tribulation, just as Jesus taught us in Matthew 24:29-31.
Revelation 16:15-16 "Behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his clothes, so that he doesn't walk naked, and they see his shame." (16) He gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew, Megiddo [Armageddon].
Because of this verse, some pre-tribulation rapture advocates say the thief in the night comes to kill and destroy. Some do not associate the thief in the night with the unknown day and hour. However, such a view does not hold up when all the verses are re-examined. Revelation 3:3, quoted above, directly associates the coming of Christ as a thief with His coming at an unknown hour. Also, the original thief-in-the-night parable, in Matthew 24:43-44 directly equates the timing of the thief with the unknown day and hour. The only possible conclusion is for the thief to be associated with the unknown day and hour, and for the unknown day and hour to be after the six bowls of wrath.
Let’s go back and think about Daniel 12 again. This parable was derived from the background of Daniel 12. In Daniel 12, what is the night? The word “night” is not found in Daniel 12. However, Daniel 12:3 speaks of the time right after the resurrection. It says, “Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the expanse [sky or heavens]; and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Does this time of righteousness not sound like day? Think back to the words of Paul. “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief" (2 Thessalonians 5:4). A time of darkness is a time of unrighteousness. It’s a time of night. So, the time before the resurrection is the night. At the time of the resurrection, Jesus will come to steal his Bride away from the night. From the abomination, there are 1290 days to the resurrection. And there are 1335 days to the rapture. This time of great tribulation is the night. Jesus comes as a thief in the night to steal his Bride. It’s not before the night. It’s in the night.
Jesus said, "I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9:4-5). And now that Jesus is no longer in the world, we are the light of the world. But night is coming when no more work can be done. Night is the great tribulation. During that time the saints will be handed over to the man of lawlessness (Daniel 7:25). So no more work can be done. During that time, the beast will be given power to make war against the saints, and to conquer them. So no more work can be done. He will rule 42 months over every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 13:5-7). This is the night, when no work can be done. But at the end of the 1290 days, Jesus will return as a thief in the night.
During the tribulation, the “man of lawlessness” will rule over every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 13:5-7). But Paul tells us the “man of lawlessness” will not be revealed until the restrainer is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:5-7). Pre-tribulation rapture advocates have argued that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit. This argues against the rapture being “immediately after the tribulation.” But if the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, there is a problem with verses 1-3 of this same chapter (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). These verses tell us that the “man of lawlessness” must be revealed before we are gathered. But if the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, verses 5-7 would argue that we must be gathered before the “man of lawlessness” is revealed. So which is it?
2 Thessalonians 2:1-6 ESV Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, (2) not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (3) Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed , the son of destruction, (4) who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (5) Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (6) And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.
The idea of the restrainer being the Holy Spirit is so ingrained into most pre-tribulation advocates that I saw a video where one well-known pre-tribulation rapture advocate quoted 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, using the words “Holy Spirit” instead of simply, “one who restrains now.” But Paul does not give us the identity of the restrainer. Verses 5 and 6, however, indicate the people at Thessalonica would have known his identity. Was this a new revelation that Paul gave the people at Thessalonica, yet did not record in his letters? Or was Paul simply making reference to an Old Testament teaching?
Daniel 10:12-14, 10:20-21, 11:1-2 teaches us that Michael protects the rulers of the world from the forces of Satan. The angel speaks of Michael, saying that Michael is the only other power who helps him fight the prince of Persia. This vision was given two years after the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon.
The statue of Daniel 2 shows us these changes in world rule. The statue starts with Babylon. Then came the Medes and Persians. When Darius the Mede took power, Michael and this angel took a stand to protect him. After the Medes and Persians we have Greece. As each of the world rulers takes power, Michael and this angel take a stand to protect the rulers. The stand is against the powers of darkness, such as "the prince of Persia." These battles are in the spiritual realm. This is why Paul says the “mystery” or “secret” power of the iniquity, which the restrainer restrains, is already at work (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
Daniel 10:12-14 Then said he to me, Don't
be afraid, Daniel; for from the first day that you did set your heart to understand,
and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard: and I am come for
your words' sake. (13) But the prince of the kingdom
of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but, behold, Michael, one of the chief
princes, came to help me: and I remained there with the kings of Persia
. (14) Now I have come to make you understand what
shall happen to your people in the latter days; for the vision is yet for
Daniel 10:20-21 Then he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? Now I will return to fight with the prince of Persia. When I go forth, behold, the prince of Greece shall come. (21) But I will tell you that which is inscribed in the writing of truth: and there is none who holds with me against these, but Michael your prince."
Daniel 12:1 "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book.
God appoints these rulers, whom Michael is protecting (Romans 13:1-7). We are told to obey them. Michael's purpose is to protect the rulers of the world so that Satan does not completely overtake them. In so doing, Michael is protecting us. However, when Christ returns, God's people will rule (Revelation 2:26).
So, when the time comes, Michael will naturally take a stand to protect the new rulers. He will protect us instead of the world rulers. Daniel 12:1 tells us that Michael will take this stand just before the great tribulation. When Michael takes a stand, Satan is free to completely overtake the antichrist. So today, Michael restrains the antichrist. When he "takes a stand" Satan will be free to move against the rulers of the world and the "man of lawlessness" will be revealed or exposed.
Dispensationalists seem to believe that the Holy Spirit is for the Church age and is not for Israel. They often see Pentecost as ushering in the Church age. And the Holy Spirit would leave with the rapture. But the Holy Spirit filled people even in Old Testament times. It simply was not as often as in New Testament times.
There is no Scriptural support for the restrainer being the Holy Spirit. The restrainer is Michael. The Church does not have to be removed before the antichrist is revealed. And Matthew 24:29-31 tells us that the rapture is “immediately after the tribulation.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says that we are not appointed to God’s wrath. This has been a favorite verse that’s been used by pre-tribulation rapture advocates. The argument is that the rapture must be before the tribulation, because we are not appointed to God’s wrath. But actually, this is another verse that proves the rapture is after the tribulation. No one argues the fact that there are Christians during the tribulation. Pre-tribulation rapture advocates call them “tribulation saints.” But are these saints appointed to God’s wrath? No, they are not. We are not appointed to God’s wrath, and neither are they. The rapture is for them as well.
So we must read the verse in context. Paul is speaking of the time when the world is saying “peace and safety.” Then sudden destruction comes on the world. The world experiences a false “peace and safety” during the 42 months when the antichrist rules over every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 13:5-7). There will be no trumpet-plagues or bowls of wrath during the 1290 days. At the end of the 1290 days is the resurrection. Those who are still alive are changed and received spiritual bodies. Then the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out. No one who has Christ will be harmed by this wrath. Here is an Old Testament verse which shows the wrath of God is after the resurrection.
Isaiah 26:17-21 ESV Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth, so were we because of you, O LORD; (18) we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind. We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen. (19) Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. (20) Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. (21) For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.
But are we appointed to the other plagues given in Revelation? Are we appointed to the trumpet-plagues? Are the “tribulation saints” appointed to these plagues? The trumpet-plagues are a warning for the Church that we must overcome sin before we can inherit the kingdom. So for those who remain in their sins during the first half of the seven-years, the trumpet-plagues can be considered as a punishment from God that is given out of love as a parent punishes his child. Christians can be very stubborn in their belief that sins do not matter because of the blood of Jesus. It almost becomes a license to sin. But that’s not the teaching of Scripture. Those who are in Christ must become like Christ and overcome all their sinful habits. We must take up our cross and follow Christ, which means being willing to die for our testimony of Jesus Christ. Most in the Church today are not really willing to die for Christ. The trumpet-plagues, are not God’s wrath.
We are continuing to examine Matthew 24 with the background of the Olivet Discourse in Daniel 12. In Matthew 25:1-13, we read about the parable of the ten virgins. Five are wise, and five are foolish. All ten are waiting on the Lord's return. All ten are Christian. But only five are able to enter into the wedding banquet. Remember that Jesus is continuing to draw from Daniel 12, where only the wise will know the answer to the question. Only the wise will know the day and the hour of the resurrection, and of Christ’s return.
Matthew 25:1-13 "Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Five of them were foolish , and five were wise. (3) Those who were foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, (4) but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (5) Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. (6) But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold! The bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!' (7) Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. (8) The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' (9) But the wise answered, saying, 'What if there isn't enough for us and you? You go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' (10) While they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. (11) Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' (12) But he answered, 'Most certainly I tell you, I don't know you .' (13) Watch therefore, for you don't know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Jesus concludes by saying, "Most certainly I tell you, I don't know you. Watch therefore, for you don't know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." So again, the issue of the unknown day and hour originates in Daniel 12 and is continued in this parable. In Daniel 12, the wise will know the answer to the question. The wicked will not know the day of the resurrection. Five of the virgins are wise and will know the day and hour. Five are foolish and will not know the day and hour. The foolish are not wicked. They are between wise and wicked. They are saved, but they do not inherit the kingdom.
This goes back to the New Wine System, as taught in my book titled, New Wine for the End Times. The only difference between the wise virgins and the foolish virgins is the amount of oil they have. All ten virgins are asleep. All ten virgins await the bridegroom, so all ten have faith in Christ. We can assume that all ten believe that Christ was raised from the dead. There is nothing we can do to add to what Christ did on the cross. Therefore, all ten are saved.
All ten virgins have some oil, but the foolish virgins do not have enough. The amount of oil is the only difference between the wise and the foolish virgins. Yet this difference seems to prevent them from getting in into the wedding banquet. They are saved, but they do not inherit the kingdom. What is the oil? If oil is faith in Christ, then we must ask how much faith is needed to be saved. Scripture does not teach that a certain level of faith is required for salvation.
Works are not required for salvation. If you assume the foolish virgins are not saved, then the lack of oil could not be a lack of works. A lack of works does not prevent us from being saved. All ten have some oil. If the oil is works, then how much works are required for salvation?
On the other hand, if we understand that salvation does not necessarily mean inheriting the kingdom, then the parable makes sense. The New Wine System uniquely explains this parable. The New Wine System distinguishes salvation from inheriting the kingdom. In the New Wine System, salvation is a free gift. But inheriting the kingdom requires lots of work.
The oil is works. Right now, we are the light of the world. But Night is coming when no more work can be done (John 9:4-5). As we shine our light, the Holy Spirit gives us more oil. You get oil in your lamps by doing the work that our Father in heaven would have you do. The foolish virgins do not have enough works to get into the wedding banquet. Yet they are still saved.
The wise will know the time of the Lord’s return, so they will be ready when the Bridegroom arrives. They will have oil in their lamps, because they overcome sin by doing the Father’s works. The foolish will not be ready. They are more self-centered, fearful of the great tribulation. They adopt the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine because it’s not in their nature to help others, doing the works of the Father, no matter the cost. Sure, they want to help others. But if it comes to choice between skipping over the tribulation, and trying to keep others from taking the mark of the beast, pre-tribulation rapture advocates pick skipping over the tribulation.
As we do the works of the Father, the Holy Spirit fills us. We do the works of the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is how Christ gets to know us. Those who believe in Christ, but don’t do his works, are those who believe they know Christ, but Christ does not know them. Christ tells the foolish virgins, “I never knew you.”
Only the wise virgins will know the day or the hour. The foolish virgins will not know. That's not to say that pre-tribulation advocates go to hell. The foolish virgins will not go to hell. But they don’t inherit the kingdom either. Jesus is drawing a correlation between those who "watch," in order to know the day and time, and those who get into the wedding banquet to inherit the kingdom. Those who watch for "all these things" (Matthew 24:33), do so with full expectation of going through the tribulation. "All these things" includes the abomination of desolation and the tribulation.
This expectation of going through the tribulation brings holiness. Working to help bring in the kingdom also brings holiness. Working to stop others from taking the mark of the beast produces holiness. Post-tribulation advocates become spiritually prepared to die for the Lord. They know the true meaning of "take up your cross and follow me." Their heart is not set on skipping over the tribulation. Their heart is set on continuing to do the works of the Father until no more work can be done.
Pre-tribulation rapture advocates have also argued that the verb “to gather,” used in Matthew 24:31, has a different meaning from the verb “to be caught-up,” used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The verb in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 means to “take by force; take away, carry off, or catch up.” In John 10:12 the word is used for a wolf snatching sheep. So it is a much stronger word. But does this stronger verb indicate it’s a different event, or does it indicate that Paul was describing the same event with a bit more excitement? It’s easy to show that the latter is the case. We can simply look at another verse where Paul makes reference to the rapture, without using the stronger verb.
Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians apparently caused some confusion. He states that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (5:2). People apparently were saying the day of the Lord had already come, so the rapture could happen at any moment now. In response, Paul writes a second letter. Paul writes:
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him, we ask you (2) not to be quickly shaken in your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us , saying that the day of Christ had come.
The Greek word used for “gathering” in this verse is the noun form of the verb used in Matthew 24:31 for “will gather.” It doesn’t have exactly the same Strong’s Concordance number because one is a noun and the other is a verb. But the spelling in the Greek is almost identical, and the meaning of the two words is identical, except that one is a noun and the other is a verb. To say that Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 are different events because they are different verbs simply does not hold up when 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 is also considered. Paul was simply describing the same event with more excitement.
Let’s look at it another way. The event of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is called the rapture. The event of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 is the same event, and therefore can also be called the rapture. Since this event uses an almost identical word in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 as in Matthew 24:31, the event of Matthew 24:31 can also be called the rapture. The event of Mathew 24:31 occurs immediately after the great tribulation, according to verse 29. Therefore, we must either conclude that this post-tribulation event is the rapture, or we must conclude there are two rapture events.
The pre-tribulation rapture event itself is a kind of doubling down. As we have seen, in Matthew 24:29-31, the Son of Man appears in the clouds and sends out his angels with a loud trumpet. They gather the elect from the four corners of the earth. If they knew the words of Jesus, no doubt these words would came to mind when the church of Thessalonica read Paul’s letter about the rapture. But the claim is that in one way or the other, the elect are gathered twice. They simply put a different label on it, calling it the “glorious appearing,” at the end of the tribulation.
But what about the resurrection? Does the resurrection happen twice? When Paul describes the rapture, he tells us “that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (verse 17). In other words, the resurrection is before the rapture. Thus, the question should not be whether or not the rapture is before or after the tribulation. The real question should be whether or not the resurrection is before or after the tribulation. In other words, is it a pre-tribulation resurrection or a post-tribulation resurrection? Revelation 20:4-5 tells us that the first resurrection is after the tribulation.
Revelation 20:4-5 I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as didn't worship the beast nor his image, and didn't receive the mark on their forehead and on their hand. They lived, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (5) The rest of the dead didn't live until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
The first resurrection is after the tribulation, and the rapture is after this resurrection. Thus, the rapture must be after the tribulation. This is an easy proof of Scripture for a post-tribulation rapture. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be any real proofs of Scripture for a pre-tribulation rapture. So what do pre-tribulation advocates do? They double down. They say there are two resurrections and the second of these two is called the first resurrection. Actually, some claim that both resurrections should be considered to be a single resurrection and that the first resurrection takes place in stages. Some even include the resurrection of Jesus as the first stage of the first resurrection.
John clearly speaks of a resurrection that includes those who refused to take the mark of the beast. He calls this the first resurrection. In that context, it’s doubtful that John would have called it the first resurrection if he had understood it to be the second of two resurrections. And to make the first resurrection be three resurrections that take place in stages, in my opinion, is a real stretch and is taking the words of John out of the immediate context of those who refused to take the mark of the beast.
There is another problem that presents itself with this doubling down of two resurrections. Will Old Testament saints be included in the pre-tribulation resurrection or in the post-tribulation resurrection? Most pre-tribulation rapture advocates say the Old Testament saints are not resurrected until the post-tribulation resurrection because the pre-tribulation resurrection is only for the Church. Others use Daniel 12:1-2, which seems to argue for a post-tribulation resurrection, as an argument for Daniel himself being resurrected after the tribulation. This is extended to include all the Old Testament saints.
The problem with this view is in who will be attending the wedding banquet. The Church is seen as the Bride of Christ, even by dispensationalists. So the wedding banquet is for the Church. But Matthew 22:1-14, Luke 14:16-24, and Matthew 25:1-13 show that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be at the wedding banquet, and they are considered to be part of Israel, and not the Church. To resolve this, dispensationalists double-down on the wedding banquet and say there are two wedding banquets. The first is called the “marriage of the Lamb” and the second is called the “marriage supper.” In his book titled, “Things to Come,” page 237, J. Dwight Pentecost writes (underline emphasis mine):
B. The place of the marriage can only be in heaven. Inasmuch as this follows the judgment seat of Christ, which has been shown to be in the heavenlies, and it is from the air the church comes when the Lord returns (Rev. 19:14), the marriage must take place in heaven. No other location would fit a heavenly people (Phil. 3:20).
C. The participants in the marriage. The marriage of the Lamb is an event which evidently involves only Christ and the church. It will be shown later, according to Daniel 2:1-3 and Isaiah 26:19-21, that the resurrection of Israel and the Old Testament saints will not take place until the second advent of Christ . Revelation 20:4-6 makes it equally clear that the tribulation saints will not be resurrected until that time also. While it would be impossible to eliminate these groups from the place of the observers, they cannot be in the position of the participants in the event itself.
In this connection it seem necessary to distinguish between the marriage of the Lamb and the marriage supper. The marriage of the Lamb is an event that has particular reference to the church and takes place in heaven. The marriage supper is an event that involves Israel and takes place on the earth . In Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 14:16-24; and Matthew 25:1-13, where Israel is awaiting the return of the bridegroom and the bride, the wedding feast or supper is located on the earth and has particular reference to Israel.
In the gospel of John, Jesus says the resurrection is on the last day (John 6:39, 6:40, 6:44, 6:54, and 11:24). Are both resurrections on the last day? Are there two last days? I haven’t heard of anyone doubling down on the last day. The only explanation that I could find goes back to this notion that the resurrection is to be seen as a single resurrection that takes place in stages. So somehow, this single resurrection that takes place in stages all occurs on the single “last day.” I didn’t really understand it myself.
So what did Jesus really mean when he spoke of the “last day?” Personally, I always go back to Old Testament Scripture in order to interpret New Testament writers. They were writing in the context of their own Bible, which for them, was the Old Testament. So we can continue to interpret these things in the context of Daniel 12. Daniel 12:11 says that from the abomination there are 1290 days. 1290 days until what? By the overall context of Daniel 12, it would be 1290 days until the resurrection in Daniel 12:2. So in that context, the “last day” would be the last of the 1290 days. The resurrection will happen on the last of the 1290 days. Then, the rapture takes place 45 days later, at the end of 1335 days from the abomination.
Daniel 12:11-13 And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. (12) Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. (13) But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days."
Daniel is told that he would rest until the end of the days. By immediate context, the end of the days would be the end of the 1290 days. Again, this means the resurrection is the last day of the 1290 days. That’s why Jesus refers to the resurrection as being on the “last day.”
What about the coming (Parousia) of Christ? Does it happen before or after the tribulation? Generally speaking, there is a definite article (“the”) before the Greek word for coming, which is Parousia. This generally indicates there is only one future coming of Christ. It’s THE coming of Christ. Verses which associate the assumed pre-tribulation resurrection and rapture with the coming of Christ are 1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Many would also associate the coming in Matthew 24:37 and 24:39 with the pre-tribulation rapture because the sudden destruction that took place in the days of Noah is associated with the unknown day of Christ’s return. On the other hand, verses which clearly refer to the coming at the end of the seven-year period include Matthew 24:27 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9. So pre-tribulation advocates must double down on the Parousia as well.
If there is a pre-tribulation rapture, then Matthew 24:43-44, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, and Revelation 3:3 would say that the thief in the night is before the tribulation. But Revelation 16:15 shows us the thief comes after the sixth bowl of wrath, and before Armageddon. Does the thief in the night come twice? We covered this topic in section A7. Some pre-tribulation advocates associate the thief in the night with the unknown day and hour. Others associate the thief in the night with the “glorious appearing.”
If you believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, you must believe the gathering of the elect would have to happen twice, angels are in the clouds twice, the resurrection happens twice, thief in the night is twice, the coming (Parousia) of Christ would happen twice, and the wedding banquet happens twice. Does Scripture ever teach that Christ returns twice? (Acts 1:11, Col. 3:4, 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:23, 2 Thess. 2:1, 2:8, 1 Tim. 6:14, 2 Tim. 4:1, 4:8, Titus 2:13, Heb. 9:28, Rev. 22:20) Does Scripture teach that any of these events really happen twice?
That’s a lot of doubling down. And most of these doubling of events are never mentioned when trying to present reasons for the pre-tribulation rapture. Instead, the list of reasons given in section A2 are used. And as we have seen, all of these reasons involve either taking verses out of context or making assumptions that are not directly supported by Scripture. And even if these reasons were taken as valid, they don’t have the solid weight of Scripture verses such as Matthew 24:29-31, Revelation 16:15 and Revelation 20:4-5. These verses are side-stepped by doubling down. There must be some very strong emotional reasons why otherwise honest Christians insist on a pre-tribulation rapture. The mere suggestion that the Church will go through the great tribulation often brings surprise and avoidance. Could it be they know they are not ready to take up their crosses and die for Christ?