Prophecy Sign 19: Prewrath Rapture
The Rapture of the Church AFTER the Great Tribulation
I hope I am wrong, but based upon my studies of the Scriptures for 40 years, I do not believe the Church will be spared the suffering of the Great Tribulation. In fact, I believe it is our destiny. During the Great Tribulation, the Church will remain God’s faithful witness to Jesus Christ and the saving power of His blood. We will persevere as the power of our testimony is demonstrated through our filling and total dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of this chart is to illustrate clearly the celestial disturbances happen after the great tribulation and before the day of the Lord’s wrath.
I teach a straightforward reading of the Bible makes clear that there are multiple prophetic events that must occur before Jesus returns. Christ’s return to resurrect and rapture God’s people is not imminent (“any moment”), since discernible prophesied events must happen first (e.g., the Antichrist’s revelation, the beginning of the Birth Pains, at the midpoint the Antichrist will be revealed and commit the abomination of desolation, initiating his great tribulation against the Church and Israel, the apostasy; coming of Elijah; and a cluster of discernible celestial events). In contrast, Pre-Tribulation theory ("pre-trib") teaches that the Rapture will occur at the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week, before (pre) the Great Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th week). They believe that Christ’s coming can occur at any moment and is “imminent.” They define “imminent” as no prophetic event needs to be fulfilled before the Second Coming.
The first appearance of the Lord Jesus in Daniel’s 70th week will occur at the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture refers to the sudden removal of the believing church from the earth. Jesus will appear in the sky and He will be seen coming on the clouds, accompanied by angels, and announced with a shout and the sounding of the last trumpet of God. I teach that the Rapture of the Church will occur after the cosmic disturbances of the sixth seal, but prior to the breaking of the 7th seal and the beginning of the Day of the Lord. In other words, Pre-Wrath theory teaches that the Rapture will occur immediately after the Great Tribulation and before (pre) God’s Wrath (Day of the Lord).
At an unknown day and hour during the second half of the seven-year period, the Antichrist’s great tribulation will be “cut short” by the Revelation of Christ to resurrect and rapture God’s people, and this will be followed immediately by the Day of the Lord’s wrath executed upon the ungodly. The second coming (parousia) is not a simple (instantaneous) event. The second coming is a complex-whole event containing various purposes of God, beginning with the Revelation of Christ in the sky displaying his Shekinah glory and power to the whole world, and resurrecting and rapturing God’s people, followed by the day of the Lord’s judgments (7 trumpets and 7 Bowls) upon the ungodly and Antichrist’s kingdom, restoring Israel to salvation, and culminating in Christ’s earthly reign. (Many thanks to Alan Kurschner for his spot-on synopsis of Pre-Wrath.)
Donnie's Teaching Notes
The sixth seal is the prophetic sign that will be visible to the entire world and will proclaim that the end of the world is imminent. This sign of the end of the age is specifically a sign of hope for Jesus’ disciples, to let them know that God’s judgment, phase one, is at hand. The sixth seal consists of at least six unparalleled cosmic disturbances, indicating that the final period of Daniel’s 70th week - the Day of the Lord (God’s Wrath) - is about to begin. These cosmic disturbances are as follows: (1) Great Earthquake; (2) Solar Eclipse; (3) Red Moon; (4) Stars Fall from the Sky; (5) Sky Splits Apart; and (6) Mountains and Islands are destroyed.
Matthew 24:27-29  For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (everyone will see it).  Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (One vulture circling overhead does not mean much, but a gathering of vultures means that a dead body is nearby. Likewise, one sign of the end may not be significant, but when many of these signs occur, the death of the age and the second coming is near.)  Immediately after the distress of those days (the Great Tribulation) 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' (Cosmic Disturbances)
Revelation 6:12-15  I watched as he (Jesus) opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake (The first sign of the imminent wrath of God – a violent and devastating earthquake. The worst earthquakes in the history of the world will plague the earth throughout Daniel’s 70th week. See Rev 8:5, 11:13,19 16:18.) The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair (The second sign – some type of solar eclipse, causing the sun to go dark for a period of time, or natural effects from ash) the whole moon turned blood red, (The third sign – moon goes dark blood in color and does not give its light)  and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. (The fourth sign – the stars no longer shine and it will appear as if the stars are falling from the sky. Joel 3:15 says the stars will lose their brightness. Before Jesus returns, the natural light sources will be turned off, plunging the earth into total darkness – perhaps even all electricity will give out at this time.)  The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, (The fifth sign – the sky itself will roll up like a scroll, perhaps ‘opening a window’ into the spiritual dimension, causing severe panic) and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (The sixth sign – Due to the earthquake, all the mountains and islands will be moved from their places. This cosmic disturbance is so severe that the entire planet may be knocked off its axis and out of its orbit. Isaiah wrote that “The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls--never to rise again.” See Isaiah 24:20)  Then (immediately following the cosmic disturbances) the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. (The response of all unbelievers, no matter their position, will be to panic run to the mountains and hide. Isaiah wrote that “they shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when he arises to shake the earth.” See Isaiah 2:19-21.)  They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne (God the Father) and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (Once the sixth seal is opened and the cosmic disturbances begin, everyone will recognize that the Wrath of the Lamb is about to commence.)
Note that there is complete consistency in the Bible as to WHEN these signs will occur; the cosmic disturbances will occur immediately “after” the Great Tribulation, but “before “the great and terrible Day of the Lord begins.
Joel 2:31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood (Cosmic Disturbances) before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (The Day of the Lord)
25 "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.
26 Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
This cosmic disturbance is the last prophetic sign that immediately precedes the Rapture of the Church. Believers who are alive on Earth at this time and have survived the ongoing, relentless onslaught of Antichrist, will be longing for this key cosmic sign. Why? Because when this sign appears, the persecution of God’s elect by Antichrist will be “cut short” or terminated by the Rapture. Believers will have great joy and expectancy knowing that when these cosmic disturbances occur, our “redemption is drawing near.”
THE PREWRATH RAPTURE
Donnie's Teaching Notes
The first appearance of the Lord Jesus in Daniel’s 70th week will occur at the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture is the gathering together of all those who have died in the faith, and all believers who are alive at the time of Jesus’ return. Jesus will appear suddenly in the sky and resurrect all dead believers, and remove all living believers from the earth. He will be seen coming in the clouds, accompanied by angels, announced with the shouting voice of an archangel and a blasting sound of the trumpet of God. At that moment, all believers, dead and living, will be caught up into the air to be with Him. This event will be as conspicuous as lightning flashing from the East to the West.
THE PREWRATH RAPTURE
Donnie's Teaching Notes (continued)
I believe and teach that the Rapture of the Church will occur after the cosmic disturbances of the sixth seal, but prior to the breaking of the 7th seal and the Day of the Lord. This doctrine, developed by Marvin J. Rosenthal, is referred to as the "Pre-Wrath" Rapture. See The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. The essence of the Pre-wrath Rapture is that the return of Jesus Christ will occur AFTER the mid-point of Daniel’s 70th week, AFTER the revealing of the Antichrist in the temple, AFTER the persecution of the Saints in the Great Tribulation, AFTER the cosmic disturbances and the breaking of the 6th seal, and immediately BEFORE He unleashes His wrath during the Day of the Lord on the ungodly world. Until such time we are to be patient and persevere.
In contrast, my friends who subscribe to the Pre-Tribulation theory ("pre-trib") teach that the Rapture will occur at the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week, before (pre) the Great Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th week). They believe that Christ’s coming can occur at any moment, and is “imminent.” They define “imminent” as no prophetic event needs to be fulfilled before the Second Coming.
I believe and teach that there are several prophetic events that must occur before Jesus returns. Is the Rapture imminent? That depends. It is one thing to speak of imminence and mean that the Rapture could occur in our lifetime once we see the specific signs that will precede Jesus’ Second Coming. It is quite another to define “imminent” as meaning Christ could return at ANY moment, and there are no signs that need to happen before He returns.
The Pre-Tribulation and Pre-wrath theories also differ in another essential way concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Pre-Tribulation theorists believe in a "two-stage" return of Christ. Specifically, pre-tribbers argue that Christ will return once to rapture his Church at the beginning of Daniel's 70th week, and then a second time at the end of Daniel's 70th week for the Battle of Armageddon. Pre-Wrath believes in one Second Coming of Christ, which will occur at the end of the Great Tribulation. Once Jesus returns, he will remain on the Earth and be present during the Day of the Lord. How do we know this? Scripture frequently uses the Greek word "Parousia" to refer to Jesus’ Second Coming, which means “to come and to stay, a continuing presence.” Jesus will come to rapture His Church, and then remain on Earth throughout the Day of the Lord. We do not know all the details of where Jesus will be or what he will be doing during this time period. However, we are told that the 144,000, who will be God's witnesses during the Day of the Lord, will "stand with Him on the Mt. of Olives and follow the Lamb wherever He goes," implying that Christ will remain on Earth. (See Revelation 14:4 and Zechariah 14:3-4.)
Additionally, if the Church were to escape the entirety of Daniel's 70th week, there would be no point in God giving the Book of Revelation to John in order to prepare the Church for this period of trials.
1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18 – CLASSIC RAPTURE TEXT #1
While Paul was with the Thessalonian believers he taught them that Jesus was coming again. However, when some of their loved ones died before Christ’s return, they mistakenly thought that these believers had missed out on the Rapture and the resurrection of the dead. Paul writes to inform them that this is not the case;
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, (They were confused concerning the status of those believers who died before the Second Coming. Paul is writing to correct their thinking) or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope (Paul did not want them to needlessly grieve about any loved ones who have died in the faith because they have a great hope awaiting them).  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. (Paul explains that not only believers who had recently died, but all believers of all ages who die before the Lord’s Second Coming, will be physically resurrected to meet the Lord in the air when He returns)  According to the Lord's own word (Probably referring our Lord’s words in Mt 24), we tell you that we who are still alive (Those still living at the end of the Great Tribulation), who are left till the coming of the Lord (Gk = Parousia. Which refers to the Second Coming of Jesus when He sends His angels to gather the elect. See Mt 24:29-31.), will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep (both the dead and the living believers will all be caught up – raptured- together).  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 (No amount of explaining can make this passage a “secret” rapture. It’s a glorious event that includes a shout, the voice of an archangel and God’s heavenly trumpet blast.), and the dead in Christ will rise first (both N.T. and O.T. elect).  After that, we who are still alive and are left (believers alive on the earth during the Great Tribulation) will be caught up (raptured) 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. (No one who has died in the faith will miss out on the Rapture and the blessings of God’s kingdom.)
After describing the Rapture, Paul answers the obvious question of the church, “When will this Rapture happen?” Paul explains that it will take place immediately before the Day of the Lord begins.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-11 LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3  Now as to the times (the period of time until Christ returns) and the epochs (the events associated with Christ’s return), brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. (They completely understood that no one knows the exact time of Christ’s return and no one knows when the events associated with Christ’s return will begin.)  For you yourselves (the saved) know full well that the day of the Lord (The Day of the Lord = God's Wrath) will come just like a thief in the night. (They also understood completely that the Day of the Lord would arrive “like a thief in the night.”)  While they (the unsaved) are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them (the unsaved) suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they (the unsaved) shall not escape. (Jesus’ Coming will be totally unexpected and unanticipated by the unsaved. The Day of the Lord will be a total surprise to them. Jesus’ Return will be like a “thief in the middle of the night” to the unsaved. For them, it will be sudden because they will not be looking forward to it and clueless about any warning signs. They will be caught off-guard and they will not escape the Day of God’s Wrath!)
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11  But you (the saved), brethren, are not in darkness, that the day (The Day of the Lord) should overtake you like a thief; (On the other hand, Jesus will not come as a “thief in the night” to the saved.)  for you (the saved) are all sons of light and sons of day. We (the saved) are not of night nor of darkness; (the Day of the Lord is a time of darkness)  so then let us (the saved) not sleep as others (the unsaved) do, but let us (the saved) be alert and sober. (The saved will not be surprised or caught off-guard by Jesus’ return and the Day of the Lord because we will be looking forward to and anticipating His Coming. The generation of believers living in Daniel’s 70th week will know the prophetic warning signs indicating we are living in the end-times. We will not know the exact hour or day, but we will know the general time period of the Lord’s Coming.)  For those who sleep (the unsaved) do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk (the unsaved) get drunk at night.  But since we (the saved) are of the day, let us (the saved) be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. (Faith, Hope and Love should characterize the lives of believers. See 1 Cor 13:13)  For God has not destined (appointed) us (the saved) for wrath (While the Church will not escape the persecutions of the Antichrist, the Church is clearly exempt from God’s wrath contained in the Day of the Lord. The Word of God is unmistakable in this teaching. God’s wrath falls only on those who refuse to believe in the Lord Jesus. See Rom 1:8, John 3:36, Rom 5:9, and 1 Thess 1:10.), but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (Referring to our complete deliverance at the Rapture),  who died for us (the saved), that whether we are awake (living) or asleep (dead), we may live together with Him (the Rapture).  Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
As helpful as this passage is, this first letter still did not completely answer all their questions. The Thessalonian church was still disturbed because false teachers had told them that the Day of the Lord had already begun. To correct that error, Paul wrote a second letter and revealed two specific events that MUST precede the Day of the Lord; first the Apostasy must come and second the Man of Sin must be revealed.
2 THESSALONIANS 2:1-17
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2  Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (Greek = Parousia. Many futurists teach that the coming of Jesus can take place at any moment and no prophesied event must take place before He returns. This view is known as “Pre-tribulationalism.” Nowhere do the scriptures state that the coming of Christ will take place before the tribulation.) and our being gathered to him (The Rapture), we ask you, brothers,  not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. (False Teachers were saying the Day of the Lord was already in process. To correct that error Paul revealed two specific events that must precede the Day of the Lord. First, the apostasy must come. And second, the man of sin must be revealed.)
TWO EVENTS PRECEDE THE DAY OF THE LORD
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day (the Day of the Lord) will not come until the rebellion occurs (Greek = The apostasy or the falling away from the faith. The first event the Church is to look for is the falling away which will involve both Israel and the Church. Concerning Israel, it will begin with the nation signing the 7 year covenant of Death with Antichrist and will occur at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. Concerning the Church, we are warned against falling away from the faith as the Antichrist will deceive many with signs and wonders followed by unprecedented persecution which he will inflict upon the saints of God. Paul specifically points to the middle of week as the most recognizable event signaling the end times.) and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (This is the second event that precedes the Day of the Lord.)  He (the Antichrist) will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple. (This is the Abomination of Desolation, which is the height of all apostasy, and it occurs in the middle of the week, when the Antichrist sets up an image of himself in the future rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and proclaims he is God. See Mt 24:15, Dan 9:27, 11:42-45. This event triggers the Great Tribulation. See Mt 24:21-22)
2 Thessalonians 2:5-10  Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?  And now you know what is holding him (Antichrist) back (Something or someone is restraining the Antichrist from coming forth. Some propose this is the Church, but the Church is feminine and the Restrainer is masculine in v. 7. It can’t be the Holy Spirit, He will still be active on the earth after the Antichrist begins his reign. Mt 10 confirms that H.S. is active and will give us the very words we should say! It can’t be government, because the Antichrist will control the government of the world. It is probably Michael the Archangel. See Dan 10:12-14, 21, 12:1. Michael was the restrainer of evil in the Old Testament. Apparently, Michael will arise or stand aside and cease from his normal ministry of protecting Israel when the Antichrist proclaims himself God, thus permitting the Great Tribulation to occur.), so that he may be revealed at the proper time. (Antichrist will be openly revealed when he proclaims himself God in the temple.)  For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work (the spirit of Antichrist was already at work in Paul’s day.) but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he (Michael) is taken out of the way. (Michael will continue to restrain evil until the Antichrist is openly revealed at the Abomination of Desolation. At that point, Michael is “taken out of the way” and he will cease from hindering Satan and the Antichrist for a short period of 3 ½ years. During this time Antichrist will rule the entire earth and will be allowed to pour out his unrestrained wrath upon the nation Israel, and the Church. The apostle Paul clearly had Daniel 12:1 in mind when he wrote this verse.)  And then the lawless one (Antichrist) will be revealed (When he proclaims himself to be God in the temple and will rise to power for 3 ½ years.), whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.  The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, (Satan will perpetuate a massive deception upon mankind.)  and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
2 Thessalonians 2:11-16  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion (God himself will send a massive deception. This doesn’t sound like a massive revival occurring after the Antichrist is revealed or like the 144,000 are converting the world.) so that they will believe the lie (It’s amazing what people will believe once they have rejected the truths of Jesus Christ. The lie is that the Antichrist is God, the Protector and Deliverer of Israel! The ultimate blasphemy is the worshiping of the image of the beast in the temple. This is the Abomination which causes the Desolation of Israel.)  and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called you to this through our gospel,that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:50-58 – CLASSIC RAPTURE TEXT #2
1 Corinthians 15:50-58  I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery (a secret part of God’s plan that is unrevealed until this point in time. The mystery is that there is one generation of believers who will not experience death; they will be raptured.): We will not all sleep (Die. The believing generation living at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming will not experience death), but we will all be changed (glorified, transformed, caught up into the air at the Rapture)  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet (The Rapture will occur with the sounding of the “last trumpet” of God. This trumpet has 2 purposes: 1. To call God’s people home. 2. To call his angelic armies to war. God Himself sounds this trumpet, not one of the angels, so it is not to be confused with the trumpet judgments in the Book of Revelation. See 1 Thes 4:16 and Zechariah 9:14-16. This “last” trumpet is not to be confused with the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15. The sounding of God’s trumpet will start the Day of the Lord). For the trumpet will sound (The Rapture occurs at the last trumpet that God sounds announcing the outpouring of His wrath during the Day of the Lord. See Joel 2:1), the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (Those living and the dead in Christ will both receive glorified, immortal bodies, through the Rapture.)  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
 "Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.