"There Will Be a Great Tribulation"
Sane and Sensible Perspectives on the Last Days
Without question this is the topic of primary concern among Christians who look into the Last Days. Will the Church--will believers--go through the terrible events of the Great Tribulation? Or, will the Rapture take us out of here before things get too rough? Some would say, "Yes, Don't worry! Jesus loves us too much to let that happen. He will come before the Tribulation and take us all away." Others, tell us that although Christians will go through some of the Tribulation, they will be safely removed before the worst of it arrives.
But on what authority do they make these claims? Jesus said exactly the opposite! Isn't He our highest authority? Then, truly we need look no further than His Words. As it happens, He spoke plainly about the timing of the events of the Last Days and typically, He didn't pull any punches. So, please set aside any pre-conceived time tables (and any fears or desires that you may have) and listen afresh to His great teaching about the End Times given on the Mount of Olives during His final week on earth.
21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. 27 “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. 29 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. 30 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. 31 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 24:21-31 ESV
The pre-tribulation rapture teaching depends upon a “secret” taking away of the elect by which only they the Lord who has come for them. Those who are “left behind” on the earth do not see the Lord during this “pre-tribulation” coming. They only see the absence of the ones who have been taken away. In this way, the elect escape the entire seven years of tribulation, or half of them for those who believe in a mid-tribulation rapture. But, how does this match up with what Jesus says in His teaching on the rapture? Shouldn’t His teaching be the one we listen to?
There are at least two obvious points of major contradiction:
1) First, there is no “secret” rapture. According to the clear words of Jesus, everyone on earth will see Him when He returns. Not only will His coming be like lightning which lights up the entire sky, but all of the tribes of the earth—all people everywhere—will see Him.
2) Second, the rapture doesn’t come before the tribulation! According to Jesus, the rapture takes place after the “great tribulation”—a tribulation which will not be surpassed by any (supposed) other tribulation that might come later than this one He describes. In this passage, the rapture of believers is clearly the gathering of the elect from the earth (“the four winds”) and from heaven to meet Him in the air. Note, however, that this only happens after the “loud trumpet call” which everyone will hear. How can this be anything other than the “final trumpet” of ___ and Thessalonians ?
Signs of the Second Coming
Timeline of Events
When Is the Rapture? (A brief review of the main scriptures)