Monday, February 18, 2013

What, are you chicken? I double dog dare you to go through the Tribulation!

"Chicken! Bwaawck bwaawck bwaawck!" Children on the playground pretend to be tougher than they are, and taunt others into doing deeds which are in effect, kind of dumb or downright dangerous. Kids don't like to be called chicken, or be to be seen trying to get out of a punishment that all his mates are enduring.

These kind of puffed up playground games are just that, children's games. However, a new kind of game in the sandbox of theology is emerging and that is the 'bwaack bwaawck bwaawck! You're too chicken to go through the Tribulation' game.

Post-Tribulation doctrine believers, or believers who are not sure which stance to take on when the rapture will take place in relation to the Tribulation, level an accusation against Pre-Tribulation believers. They say that we are either chicken, or not a strong Christian, or have some kid of pride to even think we will escape all these things. (but we will ... says Luke 21:36).

Theirs is wrong thinking. It actually is a kind of perverse, reverse pride in itself, something I'll explain in a moment. I'd like to address several of the misunderstandings that a person who thinks these things betrays.

Chris Koelle, Book of Revelation, Graphic Novel
But first, to make something clear, far from being angry or upset that a person isn't fully understanding of the biblical reasoning behind a pre-Tribulation doctrine, I am sad for them. It must be very scary to think that they are going to enter the worst time on earth where billions will die horrible deaths. But in these people who level sandbox charges of an ad hominem flavor, I ask for moderation and patience from you.

Now, in my opinion, a person charging pride or arrogance or chicken-ness in stating one will be removed prior to the Judgments, labors under one or more of the several following misunderstandings. They either-

-misunderstand what pride is,
-misunderstand what the Tribulation is prophesied to accomplish,
-misunderstand the Church Age believer's position before Christ, or
-have a false or superficial understanding of just how bad the last 7 years will be.

First, what is pride? We already know that God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13). We are not talking about the kind of pride we feel about a job well done. The kind of pride God hates is pride that stems from self-righteousness. This is a sin, and God hates it because it is a obstacle to seeking Him. Pride is seeking satisfaction in something we have accomplished, instead of seeking to be weak so He will be strong in us. That kind of pride is giving ourselves the credit.

Having arrived at a doctrine via prayer and diligent study and which is supported biblically is not pride. It is study. As GotQuestions defines biblical study:

"First, through prayer and humility, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to give us understanding. Second, we should always study Scripture in its context, recognizing that the Bible explains itself. Third, we should respect the efforts of other Christians, past and present, who have also sought to properly study the Bible."

I have done these things and I arrived at an understanding of when the rapture will take place. I am comfortable in my understanding and I adhere to it, because it makes sense in the large scheme of things- and by that I mean from Genesis to Revelation. (As a commercial for the bible- Genesis and Revelation are marvelous bookends, one is controlled Creation with a forward-looking redemptive intent and the other is controlled UNcreation with a backward-looking redemptive intent). I have a biblical response to support my Pre-Trib stance.

The second misunderstanding a person often has is a misunderstanding of what the Tribulation is prophesied to accomplish. The pre-church age and the current church age are different. Before the Church Age began (which started at Acts 1:8) God was working through His people the Jews to bring the message of salvation. As the blog Compelling Truth states,

"They were chosen as a nation to receive instruction on Who God is and how to worship Him. Their mission was to embody this knowledge by obeying the laws God gave them and spreading the truth about God to other nations. Since God chose Israel as a nation, His blessings and their obedience were to be on a national scale."

However, the Jews rebelled, and they rejected their Messiah. The mystery then became that Jesus was going to use the Gentiles to bring His message. (Ephesians 3:6, 9, 11). He partially hardened the hearts of the Jews so that they would become envious. (Romans 11:7, 11).

"But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!" (Romans 11:12)

But make no mistake, God will release that hardening when the full number of the Gentiles comes in (Romans 11:25) and then His work with the Jews will resume. From the cross until now, He has set Israel aside in the timeline of things, in a 2000 year pause. This was so that He would build His church. That pause is noted in Daniel's prophetic timeline, a chapter also called the Prophetic Clock and the Seventy Weeks of Daniel.

This was a very broad summary of the complex and wondrous plan of God regarding His people the Jews and His people the grafted-in Gentiles. But understanding that God has a plan for each, and that plan is not the same, is critical to understanding what the Tribulation is due to accomplish. So, what exactly is God planning, and why? The what is mainly contained in Revelation, though parts of what is going to happen are scattered throughout the entire bible (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Joel, etc). The why is in Daniel 9:24.

Again, Daniel 9 and verse 24 has the specifics:

Credit
"The prophecy contains a statement concerning God’s six-fold purpose in bringing these events to pass. Most scholars believe that we are now living in a huge gap between the 69th week and the 70th week. The prophetic clock has been paused, as it were. The final “seven” of Daniel is what we usually call the tribulation period. Verse 24 says the seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thine holy city, 1) to finish the wickedness, and 2) to seal up the sins, and 3) to reconcile the iniquity, and 4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, and 5) to seal up the vision and prophecy, and 6) to anoint the most Holy."

Note that the main intent is to resume dealing with Daniel's people (the Jews) and the holy city (Jerusalem). The Tribulation focus is NOT THE CHURCH. Of course, all sinners who are left behind in the Tribulation will be part of the effects of His dealing with the Jews, and one of His intents is to stop sin globally, but the part the church plays in Hie eternal plan will have been accomplished when "the full number comes" in. (Romans 11:25).

In one sense, it is prideful to think that the church is the focus of everything all the time. It isn't. We are a special blessing, and we are His bride, but He will return to working with His remnant the Jews during the last 7 years. It is their time, not ours! And that is to the glory of Christ, who will see His people finally mourn the One that they pierced and accept Him as their Messiah! They will come to accept Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). God will restore their relationship with Him (Ezekiel 11:17).

The third kind of misunderstanding a person shows when they charge a Pre-trib believer with pride or  arrogance or cowardice for their beliefs is a misunderstanding of who we are in Christ. As Daniel's verse explains, 3 of the 6 purposes of the Tribulation are to deal with sin. Though I pasted the verse above, here is what the NLT says-

"A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place." (Daniel 9:24 NLT)

However, those in the Church have a position before God: clean. (Revelation 19:8; Revelation 3:4; Isaiah 64:10). He has forgotten our sin. (Hebrews 8:12). They were nailed to the cross. (Colossians 2:14). He remembers them no more. (Hebrews 10:17). Why would He keep us on earth to punish us for our sins when according to Him, our sins are as far from the east as the west? (Psalm 103:12). If He keeps the Church, His Bride, on earth to punish us for our sins, then all those other verses become lies.

“Robe of Righteousness” by Lars Justinen
No, our position before Christ is clean, arrayed in White linens, the robe of righteousness. He is not going to drag His clean and washed Bride through the mud of the Tribulation to punish our sins. Our sins are finished. The sin of the Jews is not.

As an aside, oftentimes people make the mistake of using the word Tribulation as a general term for trials or trouble. The two words are different. Of course Christian people throughout the ages have endured trials or tribulations. But THE Tribulation is altogether different. The word that the Gentiles use comes from Matthew 24:9. In Matthew 24:9 Jesus did say "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake." But the official term for the 7-year time period is "The Time of Jacob's Trouble." (Jeremiah 30:7). It is also known as The Day of the LORD.

Saying that THE Tribulation is the same as general tribulation is like saying that THE Antichrist is the same as an antichrist mentioned in 1 John 2:22. The pockets of persecution Christians have endured since the beginning are definitely not the same as the worldwide testing with a 6-point plan that the entire inhabited world will endure at the end of time. (Revelation 3:10). In the former, glory was brought to Christ via the deaths of the martyrs and the effect was to spread the Word. In the Tribulation/Time of Jacob's Trouble, it is not glory but punishment and the effect is that the saints will be wearied (Daniel 7:25) and eventually overcome. (Revelation 13:7) so that satan's sin will be made full.

As for the perverse, reverse pride in saying that a saved person of His church will go through the Tribulation, John MacArthur spoke to that.

"If a person comes along, and this is popular today, there are a lot of people who...who wanna go through the Tribulation. It's become...got sort of a martyr complex, you know? In a very mechanized society and a...and very high-powered society and a very...a very easy kind of existence, a lot of people would try. They kinda think it's neat to go through the Tribulation, and they see the movie about thief in the night, and they can see themselves running from the beast and all this intrigue; ... sometimes I'll listen to a Christian...those Christian television programs, and they're talking about, "Well, you know, I'm not convinced that we're going to be taken out. I think we may go through it..." you know, and it's all very dramatic. Listen, folks, well, I don't wanna be there. It doesn't sound good to me at all. If I have my choice of being here with the beast, to be in Heaven with Jesus, it isn't even a question."

A person who even dares to think that they can withstand a moment of the Tribulation is wildly self-deluded. I say this lovingly but pointedly- the last 7 years will be hell on earth. The Holy Spirit will not restrain men from their evil inclinations. Everything will be happening. Child slavery, perverse molestation, bestiality, violence and gore unparalleled. Demons will chase you, the ground will collapse under your feet, the volcanoes will be going off, and probably Yellowstone's supervolcano too. Half of America will be blown away. Sulfur will rain down from the sky. The sun will burn you to a crisp and there will be no water to drink. You will be cold, hot, hunted, starved, lonely and grossly diseased. And that will be just the first half. The second half will be worse.

Jesus said that it will be the worst time on earth that ever was or will ever be again (Matthew 24:21). You think you can withstand that? Half of the stricken cruise ship Carnival Triumph had a bunch of whiny babies on it that didn't last 3 days before they turned into savages grabbing for the last lobster. You do not want to withstand 7 years of hatred and being stalked tot he death!! You most likely cannot. Most will not. The Holy Spirit will not be indwelling you to aid you in resisting sin, so you will not have His help there. If they are beating up innocents now just to see them bleed, and raping 100 year old women, what do you think they will do when the RESTRAINT is gone!?!?

They are going to tear out your eyes with their fingernails just to hear you scream, and get bored halfway through and wander off to do something worse to the next person.

No, I know I do not want to be here. Yes, I am a chicken. I am scared of all that. Any sane person would be.  Call me chicken, I am. I am strong enough to know my weakness. I am low enough to know my high position before Christ.

I also know that through years of prayer, study, and a contextual understanding, Jesus is going to call His bride home and consummate His long-awaited reunion. We will finally be called Wife!

"Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

If you want to be punished, that's your thang. If you think you're strong enough to withstand hell come to earth, go for it. If you want to fling sand my way, go ahead. But please refrain from extra-biblical emotional remarks because after all, you're the Bride too. We are one in Christ. I love all my brethren, even the ones with a martyr complex ;) And I hope you would love me too, the big chicken ;)

Or maybe, we can simply share what we believe and why from the bible, and love on each other without the sandbox games?

19 comments:

  1. As my grandmother would say, "That'll preach!". Thank you for so concisely writing down the pre-trib position to use to answer my Christian friends when they look at me askance when finding out what I believe regarding rapture. Being a quiet person, I take no joy in debate or confrontation---I lose my 'voice' and can't of verses or reasonings until I'm out of the intense atmosphere. I, too, had to settle in my heart what I believed about the end times and the rapture some years ago. I don't understand the vitriol concerning pre-trib rapture; it is our wonderful hope. Please, may I print this out and keep for future use? God bless.

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    1. Hi Anonymous!

      Sure, print and use to your heart's content!

      These essays also defend pre-trib stance--I hope you may find them helpful too. :)

      More on the rapture will be pre-tribulation, from John MacArthur
      http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2011/01/more-on-rapture-will-be-pre-tribulation.html

      Why the rapture is biblically pre-tribulation. You don't have to wonder!
      http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-rapture-is-biblically-pre.html

      Thirty–Six Pre-Trib Rapture Texts
      http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2009/12/thirtysix-pre-trib-rapture-texts.html

      Why pre-tribulation rapture is doctrinally correct
      http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-pre-tribulation-rapture-is.html

      Rapture in the Old Testament
      http://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2010/05/pre-tribulation-rapture-in-old.html

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  2. Hey Elizabeth, won't some of our brother's and sisters be shocked when we meet them in the air?
    Looking for our Blessed Hope along with you!!!

    Pam

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    1. Hi Pam, shocked and relieved, I might venture to say! It is one case were being wrong will turn out oh, so right!

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    2. Hey Elizabeth, I just had another thought about this. Jer.30:7 talks of the time of JACOB'S trouble which is coming. Maybe those who want to say that the church is the "New Israel" might want to think about that prophecy. They want the promises to Israel but none of the cursings. Fortunately, God doesn't say that anywhere in His Word. Makes me know that being pre-trib, pre-mill, is the right way to interpret the Scriptures. Whew!! Thank you Jesus!!

      Pam

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    3. A very good thought, Pam. You're right, it is the time of Jacob's trouble! And then reading the promises that come in the verses subsequent, how the Lord will bless David their King and restore them to a rest and quiet where no one shall make them afraid (which is a prophecy future because that condition has never happened)....and after all, the title of the passage is "Restoration of Israel & Judah"

      Thanks for turning our attention to that important passage :)!

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    4. My pleasure. God showed it to me.:)
      Maranatha!

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  3. Chicken? Yep, me too!
    ~Birds of a feather, and all that...A point to note is we do not try to minimize the tribulation that many Christians do endure all over the world today...martyrs are being tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus as I write this...But The GREAT tribulation is what is on the horizon. Something that the Bible says there is NO comparison to. So when a post tribber tries to say that it is the wrath of antichrist that the Christian must suffer through...The Great Tribulation is the wrath of GOD not Satan...Satan's wrath (as bad as it is)does not bring judgment. And the Christian is not under judgement (Christ already took our judgement upon himself.)
    For more info about the 'Bema judgment' of the Christian Look Here:
    http://bible.org/article/doctrine-rewards-judgment-seat-bema-christ

    (I respect your wanting to peruse links first Elizabeth, so I will leave that to you to include or not)
    ~God bless~ Lisa

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    1. Hi Never Forsaken,

      Thanks so much for sharing- the comment AND the link! it is a good one, and also good to be reminded that Christians are not under judgment. It is a simple truth- the Tribulation is judgment, which Church Age Saints are blessed to scape thanks to the blood of Jesus and His resurrection, hallelujah!

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  4. Excellent article Elizabeth and yes i dont think many realise just how bad its going to be here on earth through the Tribulation period, Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

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  5. Excellent post as usual. In regards to those who believe in a post tribulation being scared. I think some aren't because they believe God is going to put them in a safe location, to protect them. I've heard this preached. They are clearly showing a lack of understand of the scriptures. It's sad. :(

    J.L.

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  6. I am happy to be a big ol' chicken! The minute I read that the Tribulation would be the worse time that the earth has ever seen, well that was enough for me; I don't want to be anywhere near it. Also this is the first time that I am hearing some Christians don't believe in a pre-tribulation stance. I wonder why this is even questioned when the bible makes it so clear and would anyone want to go through it? Again, I guess that is the chicken in me :) Great write up as usual Elizabeth.

    Marrell

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  7. Even Jesus Himself asked God to take away the cup of suffering from Him. The tribulation is not summer camp. lol It is your worst nightmare come true.

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  8. Another wonderful post with lots to think about! When I was reading the recent post about the Ural meteor damage it left me wondering what it would be like during the Tribulation. Apparently 10,000 rescue workers were sent to the area. That meteor shower was not even that bad compared to what will come at the end times, along with everything else. And people in those days are unlikely to have any help as systems and society crumble, and people’s real hearts are exposed. Without God’s Spirit in the world I don’t think there will be much love towards others. I am praying earnestly that God will awaken more people to see reality as it is and turn to him while it is day. Bless you, Elizabeth in this blog it is a real pleasure to read.

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  9. I never was good at taking double dog dares....

    Great exposition, Elizabeth, as usual!

    Kim

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  10. Love your blog Elizabeth! I have been going through a tug of war as of late. We go to two different churches from time to time. Our main church is very far away so when I don't get up early we go to the one that is just a hope skip and jump from our home. That is on Sunday morning then each Sunday night we go to the far away one. Silly I know but we just love church. Anyway, the two pastors don't see eye to eye. One believes we are going to be here for the trib then the rapture...apparently sees it as a one time event. The second pastor says we are out of here before the trouble starts or gets really bad that is like you say...clearly trouble has started already. I am a mess basically. lol I believe this then I believe that so what I am doing is reading the bible. And I am really truly trying to pay very close attention to what I am reading like never before. I understand your point and that is what I want to believe. Our regular pastor says Matthew 24:29 is his go to verse that says all these terrible things will happen then the Son in the clouds. I don't know! Right now I am in Psalm 120 so I am not there yet but to have these two so far apart on the truth is upsetting to say the least. You have given a good argument backed up with Scripture. I personally don't see it any other way except when I watched this movie called After The Tribulation from some pastor out in Tempe, AZ. So as you can see like I said before I am a mess here. Again, thank you so so very much for your blog. I read it each night, I have learned so much and I read it to the hubby. Take care.

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    1. Hi Kelly,

      I am so glad you're reading the bible and learning more directly from His word. The Lord also raised up good men in former times and present times also, who wrote good commentaries and have put up good sermons. I'd trust anything by John MacArthur, Steve Lawson of First Baptist Mobile Alabama, Don Green of Truth Community Fellowship, Phil Johnson of the GraceLife Pulpit. In former times, Strong's Dictionary and Barnes Notes are also wonderful

      It is really hard, I know, when the church you feel doctrinally aligned with is far away. We are supposed to commit to a church and that means committing to the fellowship of believers- people. It's hard to serve our brethren when we're far away, but then again it's hard to sit in the pew and listen to things that the Spirit in you may be at odds with. It's a tough thing.

      John MacArthur has a good series on church-going here

      1. http://www.gty.org/Blog/B130114
      2. http://www.gty.org/Blog/B130117
      3. http://www.gty.org/Blog/B130118
      4. http://www.gty.org/Blog/B130121
      5. http://www.gty.org/Blog/B130123
      6. http://www.gty.org/Blog/B130124
      7. http://www.gty.org/Blog/b130128

      Membership is more than attending, it is serving, submitting, identifying, being loyal to, etc. That is what each of those essays above explore.

      Which church are you a member of? Committing to one church means you're voluntarily identifying with one body. The pastor is told in scripture that he is going to be judged more harshly because he is responsible for the leading of and discipleship of his flock. (James 3:1)

      On the other hand, people are going to be judged by what they say about the pastor, and how they respond to his leadership. The pastor's testimony about the members of his flock is going to come into play at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (Hebrews 13:17)

      If you attend two churches, to whom do you submit? How will the pastor know how to guide you? In attending two churches but not committing to either, you're actually making it harder for your pastor on Bema Awards day.

      Now, as for preaching post-tribulation, I have two things to say. First, a literal interpretation. For those who say we will be here through the Tribulation, then to be caught up and immediately return with Jesus (AKA the boomerang effect 1 Thess 4:17 and Rev 19:14), there is one big problem. If Jesus catches away His bride and immediately returns with them, who is left on earth to separate into two groups as sheep and goats? (Matthew 25:31-46). They're already separated.

      End part 1

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    2. Part 2

      Second, though many pastors say that the timing of the rapture is a "non-essential" and at least as it impacts salvation, it IS. However, I think proper exegesis on this topic is crucial for Christian living post-salvation.

      Paul and Peter and Jesus urged us to live a certain way with the knowledge that the Son of Man is returning and suddenly. If He is to return prior to the Tribulation, there seems to be one set of life-standards. (Godly living, encouraging, not forsaking assembling...) However, if we are to go thru the Tribulation, there would be another set of warnings, encouragements, and instructions. If a pastor believes this, he should be gleaning and mining the bible to unearth all the information he can so as to prepare us for this trial. I mean, it IS the biggest trial anyone on earth will ever go through, Jesus said!

      The reason pastors don't do this is that there are no instructions for the church, no revealed preparations we are supposed to make. Yet are we to believe that Jesus makes NO preparations for His Bride through the worst time on earth there shall ever be? This same Jesus who told us how to live down the minutest detail left absent verses on how to get through the Tribulation? Hmmm. Not hardly. That is because after chapter 4 in Revelation, the church is not mentioned on earth again, and we see the church starting in ch. 5 in heaven.

      I think that it's important to sit under a pastor who correctly interprets the timing because it reveals he is properly interpreting the bible and is also demonstrating a proper understanding of the bigger picture of what God is doing from Genesis to Revelation.

      But the timing of the rapture, as imminent as it is, is only a small part of holy living. I also think it is important to commit to a church that is nearby so that service and ministry becomes more immediate. I'd say to keep praying, settle on one church- and this will reduce your tug of war. Make a commitment to resolve these things in your heart thought the strength of the Holy Spirit and appeal to Him for how to proceed. He will help you. That is what He's there for :)

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    3. Elizabeth, I'm with you on the Rapture being an essential. I believe that how you interpret the Bible is directly related to what you believe about the end time events. Pastors take Matthew 24:40 and make it about the Rapture when it, chapter 24, is all about the events before the Second Coming. That is just one example of how putting the Church where it doesn't belong can be confusing.
      As far as being a church member, it is really, really hard to find one that doesn't confuse. I've been praying and searching along with others who feel this way. It is very difficult.

      Pam

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