How to recognize the mark of the beast
The following arguments are some of the chief reasons why millions of Christians believe in a pre-trib rapture. Many of these same people are unaware that there is another way to look at the pre-trib rapture proof-texts. Hopefully, after taking a close look at the following, many pre-trib rapture proponents will see things differently about the timing of the rapture. While there will be a rapture, the pre-trib rapture teaching, in the end, will show itself to be nothing more than a false hope (and perhaps even a snare) for many who were not prepared spiritually for those days because they thought they would escape rather than face the rough days ahead. It is my hope that many will reconsider their position of a pre-trib rapture after they see some of the chief arguments upon which it is based.
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 1:
God is a loving God and would NEVER allow his children to suffer through the great tribulation. Hence, we will be leaving through the rapture before it occurs.
God has always been and will always be a loving God. In fact, He is love (1 John 4:8; 4:16), but we must NOT misuse this attribute of His or misunderstand that He is also an infinite and eternal God, whose ways and thoughts are not like ours:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:8,9)
Also, remember that God has allowed His most devoted servants to suffer incredibly in this life, even up to the point of martyrdom like John the Baptist, Steven, James and Antipas. Moreover, many prophets of God were killed by Jezebel in her day (1 Kings 18:4, 13). But most noteworthy is how the Father allowed His only begotten son, Jesus of Nazareth, to suffer horribly and then die on the cross for all of mankind. God's love permitted all of that to happen and will also allow for the last generation of saints to face the antichrist.
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 2:
Jesus promised the church the following:
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. (Rev 3:10)
Jesus said, He'd keep Christians from this hour of trial coming on the whole earth. Hence, Christians will be delivered from the tribulation period.
The Greek word found in Rev.3:10 and translated keep you from is also found at John 17:11 and 17:15 and can mean keep through. This is what will happen, if we are the generation of saints to face the antichrist -- we will be kept through that horrible time, that is, as long as we do our part for God to continue to keep us, as the Scriptures declare. See Rev. 13:10 and 14:12.
Also remember that the prophet Daniel went into the lion's den and the three Hebrew men -- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego -- went into Nebuchadnezzar's blazing furnace! God did not keep them from such a severe life or death test.
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 3:
After Rev. 4:1, we read no more of the church. God said to John, come up here, which symbolizes the rapture and the end of the Church age, which means Christians are not going through the tribulation. That verse reads:
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." (Rev 4:1)
While we might not see the word church after the point of Rev. 4:1 in the book of Revelation, we still read of it with the term saints, which comprise the church. For example, we read:
He [the antichrist] was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Rev 13:7)
If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. (Rev 13:10)
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Rev 14:9-12)
So while it is true that the word church is not found after Rev. 4:1, a synonym for it certainly is!
Also, it was to John alone that God spoke the words come up here. To give a symbolic interpretation to any Scripture, which you are doing to say that phrase means the rapture, can lead to many strange, weird and unsound teachings. But those same words come up here are also found in another place in Revelation:
Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (Rev 11:12)
Those words were spoken to the two witnesses of Rev. 11, who were killed by the antichrist and clearly cannot refer to the rapture, as some try to make it mean in Rev. 4:1.
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 4:
Lot was taken out of Sodom before it was destroyed and Noah was in the ark before the flood. Scripture says:
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)
Hence, Christians will likewise be delivered, as Noah and Lot were, through the rapture.
While some might look at Lk. 17:26-30 and see the righteous being delivered (and in part it is referring to that), that passage is primarily emphasizing that the wicked will be destroyed by God's judgment. The wicked people living during Noah's day and Lot's day were oblivious to the immediate danger they were in and continued to live an ordinary kind of life, without repentance of their sins and turning to God. Hence, they were all destroyed when God's judgment came. Notice the rest of the context of that passage:
On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left. "Where, Lord?" they asked. He replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather." (Luke 17:31-37)
The disciples asked where they were taken. Jesus answered by referring to their dead bodies and vultures being gathered there! That refers to the wicked people, not the righteous. Notice the parallel passage in Matthew's gospel:
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Mat 24:37-44)
The wicked were taken away by the flood, which killed them.
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 5:
Finally, notice that Jesus will come at an hour we do not expect him, Mat. 24:44. If He was coming at some time other than pre-trib, we would know when He was coming. Hence, the rapture can happen at any moment and must be pre-trib.
There are other Scriptures that must be examined besides the one saying that He will come at an hour we do not expect Him, such as the following one:
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. (Mark 13:24-27, KJV)
According to this Scripture, the gathering of the elect from earth to heaven (the rapture) cannot happen until first there is a radical change in the way we currently view the sun, moon and stars -- which means it cannot happen before this event occurs! Furthermore, that change will occur after the tribulation, according to the Lord Jesus.
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 6:
In Luke 21:36, Jesus taught:
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
So we will escape the horrible things that will happen on the earth through the rapture.
What the saints will escape, according to that verse, is what comes after the rapture, which is the wrath of God. The saints will be delivered from the wrath of God, but not from the antichrist during the tribulation. Again, the tribulation is not the wrath of God.
(The next pre-trib rapture argument is similar to this one.)
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 7:
The tribulation is the wrath of God. The saints are delivered from the wrath of God, according to various Scriptures, so the rapture must happen before the tribulation.
It is true that the saints will be delivered from the wrath of God, but it is not true that the tribulation is the wrath of God. There are no Scriptures to back that up. Furthermore, the wrath of God begins at the overlapping point of Rev. 11:18 and Rev. 6:17, which is after the tribulation. The saints will go through the painful things cited before that point, but not the wrath of God. Notice those Scriptures:The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great--and for destroying those who destroy the earth. (Rev 11:18)
For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand? (Rev 6:17)
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 8:
The church will depart before the antichrist is revealed:
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (2 Thess. 2:7,8)
If we back up to the beginning of the chapter we read at v. 3 the following about the day of the Lord or the gathering of the saints to heaven (the rapture):
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, (2 Thess. 2:3, NASB)
Very clearly that verse contradicts the pre-trib interpretation of verses 7 and 8, because two events must precede the gathering of the saints to heaven (the rapture): (1) apostasy and (2) the revealing of the antichrist. In other words, verses 7 and 8 can't be the rapture, for the event stated there happens before the rapture. Take a close look at verses 1-3:
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, (2 Thess. 2:1-3)
How then should we view verses 7 and 8? What will be taken out of the way BEFORE the antichrist is revealed? It has to be the restraining power of the Holy Spirit, since the saints will be here to face the antichrist, as shown in this chapter and elsewhere in Scripture.
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 9:
I'm going up before the tribulation. If you want to stay around you can but I'm leaving.
All Christians will leave the earth at the point of the rapture, regardless their position on the timing of the rapture. In fact, even the Christians who believe there will be no rapture will also go up at that point in time. So no one is getting out of here through the rapture merely because he wants to go!
PRE-TRIB RAPTURE ARGUMENT NUMBER 10:
The rapture is mentioned at 1 Thess. 4:16-18. After it is mentioned we are told to "encourage" each other with those words. If we had to go through the tribulation that wouldn't be encouraging, but instead discouraging!
If we start reading a few verses before v. 16, we can easily see what we are to encourage other Christians about:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
According to that passage, Paul didn't want the Christians to grieve like the rest of (unsaved) mankind, who have no hope. The encouraging truth stated there is that living Christians will be with their departed loved ones who died in the Lord once again. The reunion will occur at the rapture. The unsaved people, on the other hand, have no such hope. Again, in contrast, Christians should not grieve like the rest of mankind. Hence, we can encourage one another with these words.
Many fine Christians have only been presented one view of the rapture and that has been the pre-trib rapture view. It may come as a surprise to them to learn that the Bible really teaches a post-trib rapture. Though this truth may be disturbing, please know that it is always best to know the truth. Christians living in the final generation will have to face great persecution and hardships. They must not take the mark of the beast or they will lose their salvation. Sadly, many Christians will fall away (Matt. 24:9,10 cf. 2 Thess. 2:3) during the last generation of this age. To overcome the devil, note the following Scripture:
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Rev 12:11)
Many will overcome by dying martyrs at that time (Rev. 7:9-17) and that will occur before the rapture (Rev. 20:4-6).
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