Tribulation

ID #1010

Is there any scripture that would seem to indicate how long the persecution of the church will last before the rapture comes? I was pretrib for many years until a new friend pointed out the discrepancies of the pretrib view and the scriptural sense of the faq_ view. But I am so sick at heart and scared of the years to come that I hope I die before it all starts to happen. Do you think most faq_ people feel this way?

To answer your first question, I have pasted below an excerpt from "PREWRATH > Timing of the Rapture" which explains what the scripture DOES say about "when" the rapture will occur because the rapture signals the end of suffering for God's people:

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Jesus told us in Mark 13:32 that no one knows the day and the hour. But He did say...

Matt 24:32 (NIV) Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. {33} Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. (emphasis added)

We can know His coming is "right at the door." So, we cannot say exactly when during the final half of the 70th Week that the rapture will occur - but according to Matthew 24 it will be sometime during the second 3½ years. Jesus did give us two exciting clues as to when it would happen:

Two Clues...

Matt 24:22 (NIV) "…for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened."

Matt 24:29 (NIV) "Immediately after the distress of those days…"

We can say that the tribulation of the second half of the 70th Week will be cut short for the elect (saints), and that the rapture will take place immediately after the distress of those days. It helps us to realize why the New Testament writers would say, "even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

There is one other important note when placing the timing of the rapture. It will happen before the 1st trumpet sounds.  Now the seventh trumpet sounds at the end of the 70th Week. The fifth trumpet that sounds brings 5 months of torment to those on the earth. So, the trumpet judgments would have to take a minimum of 6 months to happen at the least.  Therefore, presumably the rapture would have to happen at least 6 months prior to the end of the 70th Week for all the other trumpet judgments to fit in.

In the last 3 1/2 years of the 70th week, the rapture could happen in as quickly as 6 months or less, or as much as 2½ to 3 years. The fact that Jesus uses the word "immediately" causes this writer to believe that the rapture will happen very early in the 2nd half of the 70th Week.

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Now, may I encourage you as far as your second question is concerned. Yes, I do believe that persecution is coming for the church. And I certainly don't look forward to it, but, being aware of what the scripture teaches is a major step in being prepared for what is to come. First, I believe the scriptures imply that there is a possibility that we may not even realize we are in the 70th week until the mid-point. Jesus said in Matt. 24 "When you see standing in the holy place the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel..." Apparently, the sign that terrible things are to come is the "Abomination of Desolation" which happens halfway through the 7 years of the 70th week. Prior to the mid-point the world will think the Antichrist is the savior of the world. So, I don't believe Christians will have to suffer for the entire 7 years - persecution will begin after the mid-point. Also, Jesus promises us that "immediately" after the distress of those days that He will return in the rapture to rescue His saints. Now although this doesn't mean we may not have to suffer, I believe it does mean that Jesus loves us and cares for us and He WILL take care of us. The scripture is clear that some will be martyred for the cause of Christ. But we all need to understand that when these things begin to happen and we see with our own eyes the promises of God being fulfilled, I believe we will understand what the first disciples said when they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus.

Now let me also say that Jesus encouraged us in Luke 21:13, Matt 10:18 and Mark 13:11 not to be afraid about how to behave when we are persecuted. For instance:

Matt 10:18 (NIV) On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

So if we are put in the place of having to defend ourselves, I believe we will be given a special PRESENCE and POWER of the Holy Spirit. Also, Jesus promised the church at Philadelphia...

Revelation 3:10 (NIV) 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.

So, there also seems to be the promise of some sort of supernatural protection for God's people. We cannot dismiss the martyrs, so some will suffer, but I believe God's grace is sufficient.  

One more point that is much more speculative - the book of Revelation describes the rescue of the woman who symbolizes Israel.  Rev 12:14 (NIV) The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach.

Now suppose that this eagle symbolizes the United States.  We have been a friend to Israel when seemingly all others have abandoned her.  This would seem to indicate that the USA could escape the brunt of persecution, or at least be a thorn in the flesh of the Antichrist.  This is purely speculative, but it is a possibility.

As God's people we cannot focus on the Antichrist and dread the cleansing of the bride, rather we need to focus on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith - we need to trust in His love for us.

I hope this has been an encouragement to you not to despair on what is to come, but to rejoice in that soon we will meet Jesus face to face!

 

 

 

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Last update: 2012-04-17 05:25
Author: Elbert Charpie
Revision: 1.0

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