by Jack Kinsella
When He was asked, 'what will be
the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?' (Matt 24:3) one of the
first things Jesus said was: "take heed that no man deceive you," but
He warns us not to follow them.
He also warned the Church that in 'the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world' (John 16:33).
That is not to say that the Church plays a role in the time generally referred to as the Tribulation Period. There's plenty of tribulation in the world for the Christian right now already, but Jesus is letting us know its all according to Plan, so don't worry.
I believe the Bible makes it clear that the Tribulation Period is the Seventieth Week of Daniel, the time of 'Jacob's Trouble'.
It is for this reason that I believe the pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine to be correct according to the Scripture.
To follow the flow of Bible prophecy during the final hours of the Church Age, there must first be an understanding that there IS a 'Church Age'.
There are few Christians who deny the existence of a 'Church Age' -- the Bible is divided into Old Testament and New, after all -- most churches acknowledge the Birth of the Church at Pentecost, and so on.
But when it comes to the Tribulation, understanding Bible prophecy and the signs of the times, conflicting doctrines are often preached within the same messages by the well-meaning who solemnly pronounce the conflicts as 'mysteries of faith' -- or they ignore Bible prophecy altogether.
If there IS a Church Age, then there was something before -- and something that comes after. That is the basic premise of Dispensationalism. Dispensational theologians divide human history according to the way God interacted with man at that time, into seven 'dispensations' of God's grace.
The time before the Fall was the Age of Innocence, after the Fall, but before the Flood the Age of Conscience, and so on.
Of interest to us at this juncture are the Ages of the Law and the Age of Grace (Church Age).
Don't get pulled down a rabbit trail, stay with me here. Forget all the clever but somewhat cloudy arguments from those who've 'dug deeper into God's truth' and just follow the simple map for now.
You can always go back later if you get lost. I'm not trying to deceive anyone.
Either there was an age under the Law of Moses that ended with the introduction of the Age of Grace at Pentecost, or there was not. If your Sunday School doesn't teach that, better take another look at your Bible.
The Bible teaches there is a purpose FOR the Church Age. The Jews first, then also the Gentiles.
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in," Paul writes in Romans 11:25.
The blindness of Israel to the coming of the Messiah Jesus is 'in part' and conditional -- 'until the fullness of the Gentiles is come in' to the Church.
I needn't go into exhaustive exegesis -- it is either clearly what God intended to be understood as written, or it is not. Truth needs no propping up -- it can stand by itself nicely, thank you.
Paul pictures the three kinds of spiritual human beings -- Jews, Gentiles, and the Christian redeemed out of each group. There is no fourth option in Scripture. Every human falls into one of these three categories, according to the Scriptures.
What happens when 'the fulness of the Gentiles be come in' then?
According to Daniel, the Dispensation of the Age of the Law was limited to seventy 'weeks' (of years) totaling 490 altogether, starting from the command to rebuild the temple given Ezra by Artexerxes.
Daniel said the time would run concurrently until the Messiah is 'cut off' after 69 weeks (483 years). The seventieth week resumes sometime in the future with the introduction of antichrist.
(See Daniel's 70th Week for more information).
The 'fullness of the Gentiles' is the conclusion of the Church Age. It is hard to see that any other way.
Misunderstanding the Dispensations allows one to end the Church age in the middle of the tribulation with the Rapture. But then there is no sense to Daniel's 70th Week, since it is now just three and a half years.
Set aside all the deep thinking and careful, painstaking calculations and tortured interpretations for now and just look at the obvious, clear and logical flow.
If there IS a point when the 'fullness of the Gentiles is come in' AND there is a point in which the 70th Week of Daniel resumes, then there is a point BEFORE and a POINT after. Just like beginning of the Church Age. There was a point BEFORE Pentecost, and a point AFTER.
Since the Church Age is for the gathering of the saints, and Daniel's 70th Week is set aside for the national redemption of Israel (the purpose specifically given by Daniel FOR the 70th Week) and for the judgment of God against a Christ-rejecting world (the purpose from the perspective of John) why, logically, would the Church Age end with any less definition than it began?
Why would the Age of the Law resume while the Church is still here? What then, is the 'fullness' of the Gentiles? Logically, I mean, following the simple path, not the contorted one that creates so much friction and division.
Ignoring the clear pattern of dispensational truth in the Scripture in favor of something more complicated and therefore, somehow, deeper, appeals to the human propensity for pride. ("I know something you're too stupid to figure out")
But does it make clear sense? Where does it lead?
Christians are exhorted to walk 'by faith and not by sight' but I've heard pre-tribulationalism decried as 'the Great Escape' and its preachers called false teachers who were not preparing the Church for the coming tribulation.
From this perspective, if I don't teach that we are going to go through the Tribulation, you won't be prepared to stand. So you need survival gear, a year's supply of dessicated food, some gold (money won't be any good) and maybe a nice underground shelter.
THEN, you will be 'prepared' for the coming troubles, during which time you'll walk by faith and not by sight when the antichrist is about to kill your children in front of you unless you take the Mark. Uh-huh.
My favorite argument is that Dispensational pretribulationism is a new doctrine first introduced by Margaret MacDonald in 1820. So how come I'm quoting the Bible instead of her?
Regardless of when you think the Rapture happens personally, did you ever notice how MAD people get if you don't agree with THEM?
There is no profit in preaching a pretribulation Rapture and eternal security. I can't sell you dessicated food, gold for the coming catastrophe or even a book on what to do if you get left behind, because if you are saved, you won't need it and you won't get left behind. No money in that.
And if you believe me -- then neither can anybody else. (Maybe that's why they get so mad, who knows?)
We are living in the last days. The signs of the times are all around us. The Lord is coming soon, and when He comes, the Bible says that the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4)
When Jesus ascended into heaven, an angel appeared to the Apostles, (not to the Gentiles) "Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven. " (Acts 1:11)
To the Gentile world at the Second Coming; "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him." (Revelation 1:7)
Unless you have different definitions for the words "every" and "all" then what would Christians be 'wailing about' at the Lord's 2nd Coming? It's what we've been waiting for since His Ascension.
A pre-Trib Rapture leaves nothing to sell to see you through the Tribulation. No motive to deceive. Like the Gospel, it's simple and direct.
First, the 'fullness of the Gentiles be come in' and the Rapture, then the pouring out of God's Wrath on those who make war against the Jews, then the national redemption of Israel at the Second Coming, and finally, the destruction of antichrist and introduction of the Millennial Kingdom.
Simple. In harmony with Scripture.
The only incentive for preaching it is to tell people they need to get saved -- NOW, not later when the antichrist hands them his calling card.
"And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you."