Saturday, April 2, 2011

2 Important Questions About the Tribulation

       I have had some feedback regarding my post "Fear and the End-Times" that I would like to address in this post. It relates to the questions of whether or not Christians will be living on earth during the Tribulation and whether or not the Holy Spirit will still be on the earth during the Tribulation time period as well.

       I would like to address the question of whether or not Christians will be living on earth during the Tribulation first. There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether the Bible teaches a pre-trib or post-trib rapture, however the Bible is certainly very clear about this issue. Where has all this confusion come from? Let's just say it's in the devil's best interests to keep Christians from focusing on and preparing to endure the Tribulation. If he can keep us thinking that we will escape the events of the Tribulation, his goal of deceiving and neutralizing us as God's chosen instruments will be that much easier to accomplish. The Bible is quite clear about how great the deception in and leading up to the Tribulation will be.

"And then MANY will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray." – Matthew 24:10-11

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons"  1 Timothy 4:1
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (Jesus’ Return and the Rapture] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition [the Antichrist]"  2 Thessalonians 2:3

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  Matthew 24:24

       Regarding the question of whether or not we as Christians will be living through the events of the Tribulation, the Bible is quite clear on this issue as well.

"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, 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. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He 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, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

This passage is quite clear that the rapture cannot occur until the Antichrist is revealed, which will happen at the midpoint of the Tribulation!

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
                                                                                        Matthew 24:29-31

This passage is quite clear that the rapture of believers will not occur until Jesus' 2nd coming, with a loud trumpet call. It is also clear that these cosmic signs (sun & moon darkened & stars falling from the sky) correspond with the 6th Seal Judgement in Revelation 6 which occurs during the second half of the Tribulation).

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a
flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

This passage of Scripture is also quite clear. The rapture of believers (along with receiving resurrection bodies) occurs at the last trumpet.The only trumpets mentioned in Scripture are during the 2nd half of the Tribulation (Revelation 8-9)

"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."  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Again, it is clear that Scripture equates the rapture of believers with a loud trumpet call which, according to Scripture, can only occur sometime after the midpoint of the Tribulation.

       As far as the issue of whether or not the Holy Spirit will be on the earth during the Tribulation, there are numerous passages that shed light on this question.

The Day of the Lord

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."  Joel 2:28-31

This passage is clearly talking about the 2nd coming of Christ, speaking of the outpouring of the Spirit during the Tribulation.

The Bible also talks about the greatest salvation harvest of all time that will occur during the Tribulation.

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands . . . And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."   Revelation 7:9+14

The Bible is clear in numerous passages that the conviction of the Holy Spirit is a required element for the repentance and salvation of souls. So if there is to be a massive soul harvest in the Tribulation, it is clearly necessary for the Holy Spirit to still be on the earth at this time.

People often refer to the following passage as proof that the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth during the Tribulation.

 "And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way."  2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

The problem with this passage as it is commonly interpreted is that it never specifically identifies this "restrainer". One viewpoint on this restrainers identity regards Israel. Because the events of the Tribulation relate to and involve the nation of Israel so centrally, this restrainer could be the Archangel Michael, who is listed elsewhere in Scripture as "the great prince who protects your people", in Daniel 12:1.

       I think it is abundantly clear that if we take the Bible at its word, that Christians will be living through the events of the Tribulation and the Holy Spirit will not only be on the earth during this time period, but He will be moving in such a way as has never occurred in all of history.