Whenever I get a chance to discuss the various views of the end-times, I always begin by mentioning the importance of unity in the body. I know some good folks who love the Lord who hold other views. Our end-time view should not cause us to break fellowship. That being said, I am personally 100% convinced of the pre-tribulation rapture. Here are 7 reasons why:
1. We are not appointed to Wrath (1Thessalonians 5:9)
This and many other verses clearly say we are not appointed to wrath or that we will escape the coming wrath. The entire tribulation period is God’s wrath. Jesus is opening the seals at the beginning and by the 6th seal judgment, the inhabitants of earth clearly state they know that it is God’s wrath (Revelation 6:15-17).
2. Departure Before Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3*)
Scripture teaches a great falling away from truth in the end-times (1 Timothy 4:1,2 Timothy 4:3), but the Greek word in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 literally means “departure.” Strong’s concordance says the root word aphistémi means: to lead away, to depart from (Usage: I make to stand away, draw away, repel, take up a position away from, withdraw from, leave.) Another reason I feel this is referencing the rapture is that by saying a great falling away “must occur first” then that detracts from the doctrine of imminency (the consistent scriptural teaching that the rapture could happen at any moment).
3. Jewish Wedding Traditions
All of the symbolism related to end-time events mirrors ancient Jewish wedding traditions. Jesus used that tradition in his teachings. In ancient Jewish (specifically Galilean**) wedding traditions, the groom would leave the father’s house, travel to the desired bride’s home, pay a great price for the bride, have his offer accepted or rejected, become legal bound if accepted, and go back to the father’s house to prepare a place for his bride. At a specific time known only to the father he would send the son to fetch the bride. The groomsmen would announce the grooms arrival, then the bride would be lifted up on a seat to be carried away with the groom. The two would enter the wedding chamber for 7 days then there would be a great wedding feast after the marriage was consummated. Space does not allow, but every single one of those details lines up with the order of key first-coming and second-coming events. Here is one key passage: John 14:2-3—In My Father’s house are many mansions (ie. custom-built living spaces); if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (**There is a great film that unpacks this beautifully called: “Before the Wrath”)
The clearly taught doctrine that the Lord could return at anytime without any preconditions. This can only be true of the Pre-trib view.
5. Our Blessed Hope
Titus 2:13 calls the rapture our “blessed hope.” It is what we’re looking forward to. Nowhere does scripture tell us to prepare to endure Hell on earth. Every instance of the Lord’s return is painted as something we look forward to with joyous anticipation. Most believers in the tribulation period will be martyred. That is not a “blessed hope”.
6. Old Testament Types
Two judgments clearly prefigure the final time of God’s wrath on earth: the flood of Noah’s day, and the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. In both cases, God removed the believers prior to judgment. There are many other types and figures that point to this pattern as well.
7. Rapture Designed to Encourage
In the main text on the rapture (1 Thessalonians 13-18), Paul concludes by saying, “Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18)”.
There are many other reasons and verses I could include, but I wanted to present a few of the most compelling. The reason I felt led to share this is because we live in a time where there is much confusion about the rapture. So much so, that most Christians of my generation have settled for the least common denominator—that Jesus will return someday. As beautiful as that fact is—it could have been summed up in one Bible verse. Yet 1 in 30 New Testament verses are about the Lord’s return, 23 of the 27 books of the New Testament give the topic prominence, and the final capstone of Scripture (800+ verses in 22 chapters) is all about the chronology, nature, and purpose of future events. Let’s commit to studying God’s word and let truth guide us where it may. You just might be surprised how sure you can be!