A Pre-Tribulation Rapture?

 

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  - Matthew 24:27

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The Book of Revelation does not show a pre-tribulational rapture

by Bill Wong

 

 

 

The Bible is full of prophecies and visions regarding the last days. A pre-tribulation rapture doctrine (the Lord Jesus takes Christians or “the church” away into heaven before tribulation begins) would definitely be considered an end-time event and if it were true, should show up in the Bible. It should especially be present in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible which discusses only end-time events and in considerable detail, leading up to and including the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to restore all creation.

 

But does the Book of Revelation mention a pre-tribulation rapture of “the church”? We will review the verses in Revelation that a pre-tribulation rapture doctrine uses as its evidence and when we study this calmly and objectively, we will find that such an event actually does not exist in the pages of Revelation.

 

 

 

 

Is the Philadelphia Church taken away?

 

A pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is closely related to Dispensationalism, which is a theological belief system that categorizes God’s workings with man according to groups according to time (sequential) and manner. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus addresses seven churches in Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. They believe these seven churches represent seven sequential ages of the church, with the 6th church, the Philadelphia church, being raptured away.

 

The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine cites the following verse about the Philadelphia church as evidence to support their belief:

 

Revelation 3:

10  'Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing,

     that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

     (all Bible verses from NASB)

 

 

If the Philadelphia church is the one which is raptured, then we must always remember it is still followed by the Laodicea church. Please note, however, that despite the Laodicea church being lukewarm and vomited out of the Lord’s mouth, it is STILL considered by the Lord Jesus to be a church.   But should not everyone who has been “left behind” from the departure of the Philadelphia church all be non-believers and not any part of the church at all?   Yet the Bible tells us that the church is still present on earth. The Bible truth that the church is still present after the Philadelphia church has supposedly left tells us that the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is a lie: the church is not taken away at all.

 

Looking into the context of these messages to the seven churches will also reveal the truth that none of these churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are raptured away into heaven at all. The Lord Jesus is essentially warning the seven churches to not be caught unaware and unprepared when He returns. This is highlighted by the fact that the Lord Jesus tells these churches how they have fallen short and must still repent. The Lord is telling them they must overcome, which means they will experience tribulation and must endure it.

 

The Bible even shows us that the Lord Jesus closes each message to all seven churches with this call to be ready and overcome, which means a pre-tribulation rapture must happen before this final admonition from the Lord to overcome.

 

However, to be warned to overcome after we have supposedly been taken away in a pre-tribulation rapture is contradictory and illogical. How can you overcome something that you have not even experienced, since you are supposedly removed from experiencing that thing? What is there to overcome if we are not even present to endure it to overcome it? The Bible tells us what we have to overcome is tribulation – all the churches do. Therefore, either the pre-tribulation rapture does not belong and is not true or the Lord Jesus’ final word to these churches is not true.

 

Please read below as the Bible shows that all the churches have to overcome:

 

 

Ephesus:

 

Revelation 2:

5  'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first;

    or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent.

6  'Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

    'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches To him who overcomes. 

    I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.'    

 

 

Smyrna:

 

Revelation 2:

10  'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison,

      so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

11  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.'

 

 

Pergamum:

 

Revelation 2:

14  'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam,

      who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel,

      to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.

15  'So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

16  'Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

17  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches To him who overcomes, 

      to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone,

      and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.'

 

 

Thyatira:

 

Revelation 2:

20  'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess,

      and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

21  'I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.

22  'Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation,

      unless they repent of her deeds.

23  'And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts;

      and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

24  'But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan,

      as they call them--I place no other burden on you.

25  'Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.

26  'He who overcomes and he who keeps My deeds until the end, ‘to him I will give authority over the nations;

27  and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces’,

      as I also have received authority from My Father;

28  and I will give him the morning star.

29  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

 

 

Sardis:

 

Revelation 3:

2  'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die;

    for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

3  'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent Therefore if you do not wake up,

    I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

4  'But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white,

    for they are worthy.

5  'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments;

    and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

6  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

 

 

Philadelphia:

 

Revelation 3:

10  'Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing,

      that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

11  'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

12  'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore;

      and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem,

      which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

13  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

 

 

Laodicea:

 

Revelation 3:

19  'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

20  'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,

      I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

21  'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne,

      as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

22  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"

 

 

These warnings to the churches lead up to the Lamb opening the first seal – where is there any indication of “the church” being taken into heaven before tribulation?

 

 

 

 

Revelation 3:10 deconstructed

 

Since a pre-tribulation rapture specifically cites Revelation 3:10 as a supporting proof text that the church of Philadelphia is taken away to the heavens and avoid tribulation, let us carefully look at it to see to see if what they think it says is truly so.

 

In order to do that, we must establish its correct context, so we must read all that the Lord Jesus says to the Philadelphian church:

 

Revelation 3:

7   "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David,

      who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:

8   'I know your deeds Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut,

     because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

9   'Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not,

     but lie--I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.

10 'Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing,

     that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

11  'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

12  'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore;

      and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem,

      which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

13  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'    

 

 

 

There are three things we should take note of:

 

 

1)   Despite attempts to argue that keeping from the hour of testing refers to a rapture, there is no basis for such an interpretation. It is an example of reading into something what one already believes (pre-conceived ideas bias the interpretation). The plain reading of the Scripture shows that the church will be kept or protected from that which will befall the world, but not taken away into the sky.

 

The correct context and meaning of Revelation 3:10 would be the same as what the Lord Jesus said in His high priestly prayer to His Father in John’s gospel:

 

John 17:

15   "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.

 

 

He explicitly asks that His disciples NOT be taken away, but be kept from the evil one. What can the Lord mean if we are to be kept from the evil one, but yet still be on the earth? The plain meaning must be that we will remain here and endure tribulation – everything the devil directs at us, including death.  The apostles were all killed (except John who was exiled) for the Lord Jesus’ name and that is what we must be prepared to do as well.

 

Please note that the same word ‘kept’ is used in both John 17:15 and Revelation 3:10, which makes this Biblical truth evident: to be kept from tribulation is not to be taken into the heavens in order to avoid it, but to persevere and endure the tribulation, and merit the reward of eternal life.

 

The Book of Revelation shows there are four different ways that God’s chosen is protected, and none of them are a secret appearance of the Lord Jesus to take “the church” up into the air with Him before the Great Tribulation. We will briefly go through them.

 

 

A.

 

Revelation 7 tells us that there is a group of 144,000 (12,000 each from the 12 tribes of Israel) who will be sealed, protected, from harm when the angels are commanded to harm the earth and sea. They will be sealed just before the opening of the 7th seal with the 7 trumpets in chapter 8:

 

Revelation 7:

1   After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth,

    so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.

2  And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God;

    and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,

3  saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads."

4  And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

 

 

And then the list of 12,000 each from the 12 tribes of Israel follow.

 

This sealing of the 144,000 is an actual example of how some of God’s children can be kept “from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”.

 

However, what they are protected from is not the tribulation of the Antichrist.  They are protected from God's wrath upon the world which is different from tribulation which is the wrath of the enemy Satan upon the people of God. We can see this by the fact that the harming of the earth cannot begin until these servants are sealed on their foreheads, which occurs at the opening of the 7th seal with the 7 trumpets. Otherwise, why are they sealed which would be a symbol that they are God’s? They would not need a seal to identify themselves for the angels if they would just be taken away.

 

This is similar to the events of the Passover. The houses with the blood of the lamb are sealed for protection so the angel of death can identify the household and pass over it and not harm any of its residents. The sealed will remain on the earth, but are protected from what will happen (protected from God's wrath, but not protected from the wrath of the enemy Satan by his Antichrist/Beast and False Prophet).

 

 

B.

 

Revelation 12 tells us of two events which deal with protecting God’s chosen. In a vision, we are told of a woman who gives birth to a son who will rule all the nations and this boy is caught up to God.

 

Revelation 12:

1  A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman

2  and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

3  Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns,

    and on his heads were seven diadems.

4  And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth

    And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

5  And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron;

    and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

6  Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God,

    so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

 

 

What happens to this man-child is the closest to the literal interpretation of a pre-tribulation rapture: someone is actually caught up into the heavens.  This man-child being taken up does not only represent the Lord Jesus, but also a select group of people who are likewise described as ruling with a rod of iron:

 

Revelation 2:

25   But hold fast what you have till I come.

26   And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations ---

27   ' He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' --- as I also have received from My Father;

28   and I will give him the morning star.

29   "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." '     (NKJV)

 

 

The Son of God was born without labor pains (the child, verse 7 below), but His brethren who will be raised like Him are born with labor pains (the children, verse 8):

 

Isaiah 66:

7     " Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child.

8     Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.

9     Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?" says the LORD. " Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" says your God.    (NKJV)

 

 

However, as Isaiah 66 shows, we can see that this select group of people is not “the church” or Christians, but is related to Israel herself and comes forth directly from Israel --- they are natural olive branches and not grafted in wild olive branches (today's church or "Christians"). 

 

The symbolism in verse 1 where the woman is “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;” shows us that the woman is Israel herself who consists of 12 tribes.  Israel is often referred to as a woman in the Bible (some examples: Isaiah 54:4-6; Jeremiah 3:20; Hosea 2:14-16, 19-20) and note the stunning parallel in Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:

 

Genesis 37:

9   Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream;

     and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."

10  So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him,

     "What is this dream that you have dreamed? 

Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?"    (NASB)

 

 

Joseph’s dream uses the same symbols of sun, moon and stars. In this dream he is not mentioned as the 12th star, but we know he is, because he is one of the 12 tribes of Israel and the dream represents the nation Israel which will be descended from the 12 tribes/stars (note also Revelation 7:8 lists 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph).  The sun and the moon represent Jacob/Israel and Rachel.  The woman is Israel and her child is also Israel.

 

Also, the woman cannot be interpreted as the church, because it is the woman who gives birth to the Lord and this other child taken up. No one can ever say that the church gave birth to the Lord, but it is the reverse that is true: the Lord Jesus gives life to His church.

 

It is the woman Israel who gives birth to the child taken up which represents both the Lord Jesus 2,000 years ago and others in the end times, but this end time child is not “the church” --- this child represents Israel, coming forth straight from Israel herself. 

 

 

C.

 

In this same vision in Revelation 12 above, the woman herself is also protected, but she will protected in the wilderness which is a physical relocation.  This woman is Israel and we are being shown that after the woman Israel gives birth to this child in the end times, she has to flee.  This means the birth of the child occurs just before tribulation, but as we have seen in item 'B' above, this child is not “the church”, but comes forth directly from Israel and is representative of Israel. 

 

This child is a select group of Israel who represents Israel (they are all Jews) and are taken up before tribulation, but they do not have a secret or additional appearance of Christ.  They are the firstfruits and 144,000 of Revelation 14 who are not the same as the 144,000 of Revelation 7 discussed in item 'A' above who do have to undergo tribulation.   Please see the article 'God's Salvation Plan in the Biblical Feast Days', specifically the sections about the Wavesheaf Offering, Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets for more information about the identity of this child taken up. 

 

 

D.

 

The Lord Jesus mentions He will protect people from the 2nd death which will be eternal, or in other words, He will give them eternal life. The Lord Jesus expresses this in various ways:

 

Revelation 2:

7   'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches To him who overcomes,

     I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.'

 

10 'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison,

     so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

 

Revelation 3:

5   'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life,

     and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

 

 

 

 

2)   Please notice what the Lord Jesus says in Revelation 3:11, the verse after He mentions He will protect them:

 

Revelation 3:

11   'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

 

 

Why does He warn them to hold fast or else they may lose their crown? The Lord Jesus gives this warning or a variation of it to all seven churches. It would appear that the Philadelphian church is just like all the other churches and is not immune to people falling away and therefore they must be ever vigilant walking in God’s ways. How would a pre-Tribulation rapture doctrine reconcile this? Aren’t all people in this church supposed to be raptured? Why do they have to overcome just like everyone else if they are supposedly not here to go through tribulation?

 

 

 

 

3)   Please notice what the Lord Jesus then says in the following verse 12:

 

Revelation 3:

12  'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore;

      and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem,

      which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

 

 

This time He mentions that the church must overcome in order for Him to make a pillar for believers in God’s temple, write on them the name of God, His father, the new Jerusalem, and His own new name. This is just another way of saying they must persevere and overcome to inherit eternity. The Bible clearly states what all the churches have to overcome to the very end is the same thing: tribulation. But the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine contradicts this Biblical truth.

 

The Lord Jesus’ words, however, make it quite clear that overcoming by the Philadelphia church is required in order for the Lord Jesus to fulfill these promises of eternal life. In other words, the Lord Jesus is saying that eternal life is conditional and the condition is that we must persevere to the very end and overcome tribulation. This, of course, supports what we read in John 17:15 – that we are not taken out of the world, but are kept from the evil one while still on earth (must endure tribulation even unto death if need be), and our reward will be eternal life.

 

Therefore, what the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine actually teaches is that since we will not have to endure tribulation there will be nothing to overcome, which means we will not inherit these promises of the Lord Jesus.

 

Please take a side-by-side look at all the ways the Lord Jesus’ describes His promise of eternal life to believers who overcome. Hopefully we will see just how crucially important it is that we know we must suffer and overcome just as the Lord Himself has, and how dangerous a pre-tribulation rapture doctrine really is.

 

 

Ephesus:

 

Revelation 2:

7   'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches

     To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.'

 

 

Smyrna:

 

Revelation 2:

10   'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison,

       so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

11    'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.'

 

 

Pergamum:

 

Revelation 2:

17    'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches

        To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone,

        and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.'

 

 

Thyatira:

 

Revelation 2:

26   'He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, ‘to him I will give authority over the nations;

27   and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces’,

       as I also have received authority from My Father;

28   and I will give him the morning star.

 

 

Sardis:

 

Revelation 3:

5    'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life,

      and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

 

 

Laodicea:

 

Revelation 3:

20   'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,

       I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

21    'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne,

       as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

 

 

 

The messages to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are meant to apply all the time, right up to His return. The context of all the messages is to repent, persevere and overcome to inherit eternity. Why would the Philadelphia church be any different? It is not.

 

The Lord Jesus commands all seven churches to overcome unto death and inherit eternal life. The Bible truth is the church must endure tribulation and overcome it, not escape it by being taken away from it. The keeping from the hour of testing in verse 10 cannot mean a rapture, but instead it means God’s protection. Not just possibly from events or plagues that may befall the world, but especially to overcome in the spiritual battle, so we never lose faith even to the last breath despite all that happens. So that though we may die physically, we may still live forever.

 

 

We must overcome adversity in rock-solid faith, not run from it.

 

 

This is the Christian message.

 

 

In this world we will have tribulation, but we are encouraged, because our faith is in Christ who has overcome.

 

John 16:

33    "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace In the world you have tribulation,

        but take courage; I have overcome the world."

 

 

We will live even after we die.

 

John 11:

25    Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,

26    and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

 

 

And therefore we do not fear death:

 

Revelation 12:

11    "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony,

        and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

 

 

 

 

Revelation 4:1

 

Many pre-Tribulation Rapture advocates use Revelation 4:1-2 to support their view that Christ will come to take away all Christians before Tribulation begins.

 

Revelation 4:

1   After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard,

     like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things."

2   Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.  

 

 

However, this is just another example of how personal bias and preconceived ideas are read into a passage.


There are three reasons.


 

Firstly, how is this tied into the entire body of Christians? This is only talking about the apostle John. Extensive spiritualizing and completely arbitrary application to the entire body of Christ is used to make it look like a rapture of any kind. But the simple matter is it is only applied to John.



Secondly, we must pay attention to what Revelation 4:1 actually says.  After the revelation of the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3, chapter 4 begins with the apostle John being told to “come up here” for what reason?  So he can be shown what will take place in the future – “I will show you things which must take place after this”.  John is merely being shown the things that were, the things that are and the things that will be.


 

The third problem is that even when it applies to John, it does not mean a literal taking away into heaven. What is the meaning of being “in the spirit”? If it is read without bias, the meaning of “in the spirit” is evidently a spiritual or mental experience, like a vivid vision in a dream or other trance-like state, or supernaturally seeing what God wants you to see. The very term “in the spirit” is telling the reader that it is a spiritual event or journey being taken, not a physical one.

 

Here are other examples of being “in the spirit” in the Book of Revelation:

 

Revelation 1:

 10    I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,     (KJV)

 

Revelation 17:

 3     So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast,

      full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.   (KJV)

 

Revelation 21:

10    And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem,

       coming down out of heaven from God,   (ASV)

 

Comment: The context of three examples in Revelation show that being “in the spirit” is a spiritual or mental experience; why would Revelation 4:1 be any different?

 

 

Ezekiel 37:

1  The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Jehovah,

    and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.  (ASV)

 

Ezekiel 40:

 1  In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month,

     in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the LORD was upon me;

     and He took me there.

2   In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain;

     on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.   (NKJV)

 

Comment:   Note that how God shows Ezekiel things which must come to pass in the future is the exact same way the apostle John is taken away in the spirit. Yet we know, and therefore never say, that the prophet Ezekiel was taken away into heaven and shown these things. This is because we know that is what prophets do – they are given the ability to tell of future events – Bible prophecy. The way prophecy is relayed to a prophet is by God giving them vividly realistic visions, dreams or this knowledge directly into their minds by divine inspiration. This is true for all prophets. Just because we do not think of John as a prophet, we must not forget he wrote the entire Book of Revelation which is full of prophecies!  

 

 

In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 the apostle Paul speaks of a situation about a man who is caught up to the third heaven, and he states clearly that he did not know if it was a physical ascension or a spiritual or visionary one. This would indicate it is more than likely a powerful vision and a spiritual journey, because his mind and senses cannot register or even tell the difference.

 

2 Corinthians 12:

2   I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know,

     God knows--such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

3   And I know how such a man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—

4   was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.  

 

 

And again, the Bible tells us this:

 

Numbers 12:

6    Then He said, " Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.

7    Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house.   (NKJV)

 

 

In light of all we have read so far, we can see the view of a pre-tribulation rapture is being forced into the reading and understanding of Revelation 4:1-2.

 

The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine nevertheless still tries to use Revelation 11:11-12 to prove it must be a physical taking up of John in Revelation 4:1-2.

 

Revelation 11:

11   But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet;

       and great fear fell upon those who were watching them.

12   And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here " Then they went up into heaven in the cloud,

       and their enemies watched them.    

 

 

However, they miss the all-important element of context. What happens to the two witnesses is undeniably physical in nature, because they have been witnessing on earth and killed.   Then they come back to life and stand up before their enemies and are lifted into heaven, where an earthquake follows.

 

Compare this to John telling us in Revelation 4:2 that he was “in the spirit”. Please note that after the angel tells him to come up here, then he is immediately “in the spirit”. The use of “in the spirit” in context indicates it is not a physical lifting up to heaven, but once again that these things John sees in Revelation are powerful visions.

 

Therefore, Revelation 11 cannot be used to uphold Revelation 4, because if one looks at both without bias, the reader will see that one is spiritual and a vision – Revelation 4 (where 2 Corinthians 12 lends credence as well), and one is physical – Revelation 11.    

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:  Jesus says Revelation tribulation applies to all believers

 

Upon careful and objective study of the Revelation verses the pre-tribulation rapture uses to support its beliefs, we find that the Bible does not teach that we are taken away from tribulation at all. Instead, the Lord Jesus warns the body of Christ to always be on guard and must overcome to receive the promise of eternity in the New Jerusalem. And to overcome something, we must actually undergo it in order to overcome it. What we must overcome is tribulation and that means we must experience it, endure it and overcome it.

 

As the Lord Jesus has suffered, so shall we:

 

John 15:

20   Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.'

     If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.         (NKJV)

 

 

However, the Bible makes it absolutely clear to all Christians that to be ready means to suffer and die in the name of Christ.

 

The protection from God that we receive enables us to withstand the attack of the enemy which is a spiritual attack and not a mere physical one:

 

Ephesians 6:

  10   Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

11   Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

12   For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers,

     against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

 

 

This spiritual attack begins with knowing that we will have to endure through tribulation --- and then prepare for it.

If we do not, when Satan the enemy wages war against the body of Christ during this soon-coming time of trouble, we will be dead on arrival to the battlefront.

 

 

The Lord Jesus said the entire Book of Revelation is for His body - all believers:

 

Revelation 22:

16    "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. 

         I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."

 

 

Now why would Jesus say Revelation (and all the tribulation within it) is for His body if we are supposedly "gone" in a pre-tribulation rapture?  Obviously, He would not say this if we were really gone.

 

 

He only says this because His people will NOT be gone/taken away from tribulation, but must endure it.

 

   

This means everything within its pages apply to all believers during the end-time tribulation. 

 

This would include suffering and dying for God's Word and our testimony:  

 

Revelation 6:

9    When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain

      for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.

10   And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true,

      until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? 

11   Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer,

       until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

 

 

It should be noted that those who have died and are asking for God to avenge them is speaking in present tense ---- those who have done them wrong are still dwelling on the earth.  Also notice that there will be more believers who will be added to their number and die during the tribulation; this again shows that dying as loyal saints occurs throughout the end-time tribulation.

 

 

This is evidenced again in the next chapter; there will be a vast multitude of saints who have gone through tribulation and have made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb of God:

 

Revelation 7:

9    After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues,

     standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

10  and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

 

13   Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”
14   And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”  So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation,

      and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

 

 

It cannot be made any more clear that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will have to endure through the tribulation to come and be prepared to die for our God and His Christ. 

 

 

The question is:  Will we be ready for it?

 

 

We must always remember that Jesus said if He has suffered, so will we (John 15:20). 

 

The darkness is coming fast and we must gear up for this spiritual battle.

 

The Lord Jesus tells us the Book of Revelation is meant for us!   Are we part of His body or not?  If we are, then let us face up to the Bible truth that His body will, and must, endure the tribulation that is fast approaching.  Let us not ignore Jesus' words and imagine we will be taken away.

 

The reward for winning this spiritual battle is not physical safety from tribulation, but eternal security beyond the tribulation we must endure:

 

John 11:

25      Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  (NKJV)

 

 

We must be prepared for the tribulation to come – your eternal life depends on it.

 

 

 

 

Please see related articles ‘The Example of Job’ and ‘Soldiers of Christ’, and the article topic ‘The Signs of the Times’.