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Bible Questions with Michael Pearl
Episode 023: Is the rapture of the church before, during, or at the end of the tribulation period? (Part 2)

By Michael Pearl

Episode Transcription:

Michael Pearl:  All right, this is Part Two on our study of the Book of Revelation, answering some of your questions. And we didn't get much into the Scripture last week, so we're going to do that this time. I have here, before me, a passage‑‑Revelation Chapter 3, Verse 10, says, "Because thou has kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which will shall come up on all the world to try them, that dwell upon the earth." That is God's word to the Church of Philadelphia. Which, Bible scholars agree, is representation of the Bible‑believing era that we are in now, that will exist up until the Rapture of the Church.

Now, notice the wording here. He said "I will keep thee from the hour of temptation." Not keep them "through" it, but keep them "from" it. In other words, they will not go through the hour of temptation, which will come up on all the worlds to try all of them. That hour of temptation is the seven years of Tribulation which is going to end in fiery judgment at the Second Coming of Christ.

Now 1st Thessalonians, Chapter 4, Verse 13 is probably the highlight of the verses that speak of the Rapture of the Church. So I'm going to turn to that 1st Thessalonians, Chapter 4, Verse 13. He said, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep."

If you look up the word asleep, you'll find that's the word the Bible uses for Christians who have died. Jesus spoke of Lazarus as "asleep" and they said if he sleeps then he does well, and Jesus said plainly, "Lazarus is dead." So that's a term used for Christians; their bodies are sleeping in the grave, while their souls are present with Him.

He said in Verse 15, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive andremain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent,"‑‑that means go before‑‑"them which are asleep. Vs. 16 For the Lord, Himself, shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Vs. 17 Then we, which are live and remain shall be caught up"‑‑ that word "caught up" in the Latin is the word "rapture" that's where we get the word Rapture‑‑"shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be more with the Lord. "

So what we have there is a description of not Christ coming back on a white horse to judge the dead. It's not Him coming back on a white horse to bring judgment on the Great Tribulation. That's not the story here. It's not Him coming back in wrath and vengeance. It's not the Day of the Lord that he's described.

This is an event that just happens quickly. In the twinkling of an eye, like a bolt of lightning, Christ comes back and no one sees him except the dead in Christ, who rise from the grave. The graves open up; receive them up. The living are caught up with Him to meet Him in the air. So that's the Rapture of the Church.

Now this passage is so different, for instance, from Matthew, Chapter 24, or some of the other passages that speak of the Second Coming. Or, of the Book of Revelation, where he describes the Second Coming; in Chapter 8, and in Chapter 16, and Chapter 19 he describes the Second Coming of Christ. And speaks of Him coming in power and glory, and the nations of the earth gathering together, against the Lord and against His anointed to battle him, and the fiery sword coming out of His mouth and slaying the nations. And the blood being as deep as a horse's bridle. You notice in the painting here, the blood is as deep as a horse's bridle.

So that event, of the Second Coming, depicted elsewhere in the Scripture, cannot be this Rapture, that you see, this "caught up," that you see here, in the Book of 1st Thessalonians.

Now let's look at second passage, beginning in Chapter 5, Verse 1, continuing. "For of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write to you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." So following the Rapture is the Day of the Lord.

Now if you go back in the Old Testament and look up Day of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, Joel said, is a day of thick clouds, gloominess, blackness; he speaks of it as a horrible time. The whole book of Joel speaks of this awful Day of the Lord, God's Day of Judgment, which culminates in his judgment of the nations of the earth, and slaying them in the valley of Maggedo, in the battle of Armageddon. That's the whole period, Day of the Lord, representing these last three and a half years of Jacob's troubles, this Great Tribulation.

He says, "The Day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night." That's a term that's been popularized, "a thief in the night," I think there's a movie that's called that. "He'll come as a thief in the night, for when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them."

Notice the difference between the Rapture and the Day of the Lord. In the Rapture, the saints are caught up to meet the Lord and that's a wonderful and glorious event. In this one, the Lord comes back to a group of people who are saying, "Oh, we're at peace and safety now, " and he says "No, sudden destruction will come upon them, as travail upon a woman with a child, and they shall not escape; but ye, brethren,"‑‑now he's speaking to Christians‑‑"are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."

In other words, the believers won't experience that day when Christ comes back suddenly, unexpectedly, like a thief, who leaves behind destruction and ruin. "Ye are the children of light, and the children of day, we are not of the night, nor of the darkness."

And then he says down in Verse 9, he says, "For God, has not appointed us to wrath." In other words, Christians won't be around to experience this wrath that will take place, that the whole Great Tribulation, particularly the last three and a half years of this seven‑year period, the whole Great Tribulation is a time of great wrath. God is punishing the nations.

For instance, you have here, the sun and the moon being darkened. A star called Wormwood falls and destroys life and fish and things in the sea. One third of the green grass and the trees are all burned up. Locusts come out of the ground, with stingers in their tails, and sting and torment men. And then we have a final battle where the blood runs as deep as a horse's bridle. The sun made seven times hotter, and men curse God‑‑sores are on them, and they curse him for the sores that he's placed upon them.

Then, we finally have this battle where the nations are slain and wiped out. That's a terrible time, a wrath, that God's pouring out. Hunger and death and hell. Men having their heads cut off, who don't conform, who don't receive the mark of the Beast, the Anti‑Christ, who will come and give out his number and reign over the earth.

This is a time of judgment, a time that the Bible said is worse than any time that's ever been on the face of the earth. That means it's going to be worse than the Holocaust. It's going to be worse than the First World War, when the men lay in the trenches, suffering. It's going to be worse than when Jerusalem was besieged in 70 A.D. and some of the women cooked and ate their own babies when they died. This is going to be a horrible time period.

He said the saints won't experience this. He will keep them from that hour of temptation.

So if we rightly divide the Word we find that there's two different aspects to the Second Coming. One of them is going to be the Rapture of the saints, and the other one would be the Second Coming which will occur at the end of the Tribulation.

Now let's read a little bit further here, in 1st Thessalonians, Chapter 5. He says, "For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by Lord Jesus Christ who died for us. Wherefore comfort you one another with these words."

So we'll stop there on that, and take up with another passage. We go to Revelation next time.

Announcer:  If you would like to ask a Bible question, email us at [email protected] or call at 931‑805‑4820.

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