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Problems with the Prevailing Views of the Book of Revelation
by Greg Baker
2/03/2010 / Prophecy
As a young pastor just getting started, I was filled with ambition for the Lord and a desire to build a strong work. Naturally, as most preachers do eventually, I turned to Revelation since I knew that most people were instinctively interested in the prophetic book.
I began teaching a year long series of Bible Studies on this most fascinating book. I didn't really run into problems until I came to Revelation 4:1.
Revelation 4:1 -- After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
For most of my church life and, indeed, through my Bible college years, I was taught that this verse marked the Rapture in Revelation-as, undoubtedly, many who are reading this have been. Now, I happen to believe that all Scripture agrees, and that Scripture ought to back up Scripture. I didn't just want to gloss over the verse based on what I had always been taught. I wanted to back it up.
I wanted to prove it Biblically! But I could not.
I struggled...oh, how I struggled with this. I called pastor after pastor asking for their input, advice, material, and teachings as I sought additional scriptural proof that Revelation 4:1 was the rapture. The more I talked to people, the more confused I got. It seemed that nearly every preacher I talked to had a different idea of what the verses mean exactly. Many disagreed with each other which did not help me at all. I pointed out the verses that confused me, listened to their explanations and came away shaken at how often I felt even more confused than helped.
You see, there are basically FOUR Rapture positions that a person can take. They are:
Pre-Tribulation Rapture - The Rapture of the saints before the seven years of Tribulation.
Mid-Tribulation Rapture - The Rapture of saints halfway through the Tribulation period.
Post-Tribulation Rapture - The Rapture of saints after the seven years of Tribulation.
Preterist View - That all of Revelation has already occurred and that the Rapture is symbolic.
I found significant problems with all four of the prevailing beliefs!
Let me break down some of the problems that I had. An honest evaluation of these verses will reveal clearly the problem with ALL of the views. Some of the objections tend to point to one or the other of the prevailing beliefs, but when put to their rivals, I never got a satisfactory answer.
Objection #1 - The disciples asked Jesus three questions at the beginning of Matthew 24. The typical Pre-Trib belief says that these were answered in a different order than they were asked. If so, where, pray tell, did Jesus answer the first question about the destruction of the Temple? This question bothers all but the Post-Tribulation View.
Objection #2 - The verses that describe the Rapture in Matthew 24 are those between verses 29 and 51. Most agree on this. Why then does the 'Great Tribulation' appear in verse 21-before the Rapture? This seems to lend weight to the Post-Tribulation View.
Objection #3 - If the Rapture is described starting in Matthew 24:29, why then does it say, "Immediately following the tribulation of those days?" Even a cursory study of the scriptures tells us that the 'tribulation' of verse 29 is the same 'great tribulation' of verse 21. How can the rapture follow the Great Tribulation? Doesn't this give credence towards the Post-Tribulation View?
Objection #4 - Matthew 24:34 tells us that Jesus told His disciples that their generation will not pass until ALL these things were fulfilled. Doesn't this give credence more towards the Preterist View?
Objection #5 - If Revelation 4:1 is the Rapture why then does the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12-17 so closely parallel-almost word for word-the description of the Rapture in Matthew 24:29-51? Doesn't this lend credence to the Mid-Tribulation View?
Objection #6 - If the Rapture happens in Revelation 4:1, why then does Revelation 7:9-14 tell us of a multitude that no man could number that was saved out of the Great Tribulation? Does this not lend credence to the Mid-Tribulation View?
Objection #7 - Is it not true that several men of God have had similar experiences to John in Revelation 4:1? Men like Ezekiel who had the experience twice, Elijah was carried into heaven in a whirlwind, and the two witnesses in Revelation 11 had nearly identical experiences. Could not Revelation 11 (the two witnesses who are called up with a trumpet) be the Rapture of the saints? Would this not lend credence to the Mid-Tribulation Rapture view?
Objection #8 - If the Rapture happens midway through or after the Tribulation, why does God repeatedly warn us that we need to be ready for His coming-a coming that will be so unexpected, so quick, as a thief in the night? If we see signs of the Tribulation, then will we not know that the Lord's coming be soon? It can't be as a thief in the night when the thief tells you that he is coming in the next seven days, is it? Doesn't this lend credence to the Pre-Tribulation View?
Objection #9 - If the seals are part of the Tribulation, then why do the martyrs in the fifth seal believe that God has yet to begin the Tribulation of man? In fact they are told to wait for a season until more Christians are killed. Why do they think that the Tribulation has not yet started? Does this lend credence to the Preterist View?
Objection #10 - If the Tribulation is a time for God to show vengeance for a world that has rejected Him, His people, and His Word, why then would God allow the Christians to suffer through any part of that? Does not 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9 tell us that the Christians will have no part in the wrath mentioned-the Tribulation? Does not this lend credence to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view?
These are just a few of my objections. I would raise one of these objections, listen to the counter argument and be amazed at how they twisted the scriptures to say other than the simple clear meaning of the verses. I was astounded, and extremely disappointed.
You may ask, "So, which one of the Views do you hold to?"
The answer, by the strict definition of each of the prevailing views, is: none of them!
Interestingly enough, there was a common thread between all the views: That the definition of 'The Tribulation' did indeed refer to the seven years of chaos mentioned in Revelation. When I realized that, I actually studied the term and discovered that the definition, Scripturally, is not accurate. According to Scripture the seven years mentioned in Revelation is more accurately called 'The Day of the Lord'. It seems that in all but two or three instances, the term 'tribulation' is applied to Jews and Christians, including all five instances in the book of Revelation itself.
Studying prophecy Biblically changed my entire view of Revelation. It actually became easy to study. Things were in order. Things made a whole lot more sense. I challenge you to study prophecy by first making sure in your own mind that these terms, 'The Tribulation' and 'The Day of the Lord' are accurate according to Scripture.
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