A while ago I finished the KI Course Learn the Bible in 24 Hours, and, while I completed the discussion questions and the course review, I have not yet finished the Candidate Research Projects. This series of assignments and the overall courses are a part of my Unschooled Master of Theology Program, so I’m making a point to complete everything required (even if it takes me awhile).
This particular project involves compiling and comparing the different views of the rapture and end time events and corresponds nicely with my preparation for the upcoming dissertation defense I’m to do for my ThD program (my dissertation has been graded, accepted, and hopefully the defense will be scheduled soon – it will be done on Zoom). Even though my dissertation topic was on future persecution of the Church, one important issue brought up was my pre-millennial viewpoint in my project. That being the case, this assignment worked perfectly to prepare for my defense.
So, lets jump in and figure out what all the controversy is about.
What are the Relevant Scriptures?
While preparing for this assignment I listened to several course lectures by Dr. Michael Heiser, and at one point he make the comment that we should not point to a certain reference as the reason for our eschatological views.
On this point, I disagree. I think that is exactly what we should be basing our views on – the Scripture. But, not just any reference will do. I think we need to avoid the often used tactic of proof texting to prove our point or position, as this is a kind of “handling the word of God deceitfully” as Paul describes in 2 Co 4:2. Rather, we should “declare…the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and that “All Scripture is profitable” (2 Ti 3:16) and none is of a “private interpretation” (2 Pe 1:20).
Rather, we should gather the aggregate of Scripture upon a certain topic, and make only tentative conclusions based on such aggregations. As new references are discovered, they should honestly and accurately be included into the collection and our views must subsequently change. Either they will be further supported by the additional references, or the view must be altered to incorporate the new information.
Harmonizing the sum total of references is the only legitimate means by which one can arrive at biblical truth. For there is a single truth of Scripture, the truth intended to be conveyed by the Holy Spirit. We cannot rely solely on the grammatical-historical hermenutic, since the Bible was not written solely by human effort. We claim it is inspired by God, that it is “god-breathed.” Because of this reality, there is but one truth of Scripture, and that is God’s truth.
There is, then, only one actual and viable truth concerning the eschatological narrative. How the book of Revelation and Daniel should be interpreted, and how the events of the end of the world will unfold are singular. It is up to us to “rightly divided the word of truth” (2 Ti 2:15).
So, here are the references I have collected thus far pertaining to the Millennium and the Rapture.
- The Dragon is bound in the bottomless pit for 1000 years.
- The Dragon can no longer deceive the nations until the 1000 years are over.
- He will be temporarily released after the 1000 years are over.
- The martyrs from the end time reign with Christ for 1000 years.
- The rest of humanity (that has died) are not resurrected until after the 1000 years are completed.
- The resurrection of the martyrs (apparently they are resurrected) is the First Resurrection.
- Those who are a part of the first resurrection automatically escape the Second Death (they experienced the First Death).
- After the 1000 year reign of Christ (and the martyrs), Satan is released and he deceives the nations (apparently there are others who are alive at this time).
- These nations are “Gog and Magog” and Satan gathers them for battle (they are apparently a great multitude).
- They attack the believers who are alive at this time, and Jerusalem. But God destroys the nations by fire from heaven.
- The devil is cast into the Lake of Fire (where the beast and false prophet are).
- Immediately after this is the Great White Throne or the Judgment or the Day of the Lord (Rev 20:11ff).
- Jesus laid out for his disciples how things would end for the world and the human race by first warning them to make sure no one deceives them, so there is a possibility to be taken in by false teaching.
- Many will claim to be the Christ, and there will be warns and rumors of wars, but none of these things should concern us, since these are not signs of the end (rather, they are the pattern for a fallen world). There will be famines, pestilences, earthquakes; these are all the “beginning of sorrows.”
- Jesus tells them that they (may them, maybe us, too, or maybe a future generation) will suffer under tribulation, will be killed, hated by everyone because of their faith and Christ’s name. They will offend many, will be betrayed by others and will witness false prophets who deceive many.
- Since lawlessness abounds during this time, the love of many will grow cold.
- Jesus tells them that if those who endure to the end shall be saved.
- The gospel will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all people and then the end will come.
- In verse 15 Jesus states “therefore” indicating because of the previously mentioned things, that when we see the “abomination of desolation” from Daniel (Dan 9:27; 11:31), those in Judea should flee to the mountains immediately: it’s going to be bad. Very bad. It’s going to be worse than at any other time in human history. But, notice he does not say “after this” meaning that the “desolation” occurs directly after the “beginning of sorrows.” That time could last for a few years, a few decades or for hundreds of thousands of years still to come.
- He warns people again that there will be false Christs and false prophets who come to deceive even the elect if possible. I would assume people will be held accountable for being taken under their sway.
- He tells us how he will come back, so we know what to look for and what kind of litmus test we can apply to differentiate between the imposters and the genuine article. “…as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
- He then makes it clear, immediately after the tribulation (the “beginning of sorrows” + “abomination of desolation”), the sun and moon will both be darkened, the stars will fall from the sky, the powers of the heavens will be shaken (I can only assume this means the very foundations of the spiritual realms will be compromised).
- the “sign of the Son of Man” will appear and everyone on earth will mourn, and everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with power and glory.
- He will send his angels with a great trumpet sound and gather together the elect from one end of heaven to the other (why are they in heaven or in the sky? Mark 13 has “from the farthest part of the earth to the farthest part of heaven”)
- He gives the parable of the fig tree so that we will know the time and season of the end: when the fig tree branches are tender and puts out leaves, you know its summer. The same is true for all these things listed above, when they happen, the end is near.
- Jesus then makes a comment about “this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” So, if this references the generation living at that time, then the prophecy has failed and we are all doomed. I have not heard a credible interpretation of this verse yet.
- Jesus makes it clear, no one knows the actual day and hour of the end, no human knows, nor do the angels, not even Christ himself (would this not explain the “generation” reference being wrong since Jesus admits here that he does not actually know when it will occur?). Only the Father knows. I would assume, since God is longsuffering, wanting everyone to be saved, this span of time will continue seemingly without end (2 Pe 3:9) which will be why many will cease counting on his return (2 Pe 3:4).
- Jesus gives us the sign of Noah, as the same will occur at the end that occurred during his day, “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” and without knowledge of the impending doom.
- Curiously, Jesus says “two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill, one will be taken and the other left. Does this mean a rapture, as in the twinkling of an eye (1 Co 15:52) or does it simply mean it can come at any moment? Jesus goes on, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming…Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
- In this account the end will not come “immediately” after wars and commotion. Before all the famines and earthquakes, they will persecute the believer.
- It specifically says the persecution will be a occasion for witnessing to them.
- Instead of the “abomination of desolation” it is the city of Jerusalem surrounded that is the sign to flee Jerusalem.
- These end times are called the “days of vengeance” and are being done so that all things that are written can be fulfilled; the end time events are fulfilling prophecy.
- In verse 36 an interesting reference is made to, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” This sounds very much like a pre-tribulation rapture.
- The harlot and the beast are described and then interpreted for us with Christ defeating them and the whole earth that follows after them, those who are not written in the Book of Life.
1 Co 15:51-53; 1 Th 4:16
- Paul describes a mystery. Not everyone will “sleep.” Now why he used sleep, I do not know. Maybe he was trying to encourage his readers who were distressed at the thought that the resurrection had already occurred. Maybe this was a common euphemism for death. Maybe it really had more theological significance, in that death is more like sleep than it is like our modern idea of death (annihilation).
- Instead of sleeping, those who are still living will be changed, and he describes the sequence of events. It will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. It will happen at the “last trumpet.”
- This “last trumpet” appears to coincide with Rev 11:15 and the sounding of the seventh angel’s trumpet. If this be the case, it is a strong support for a mid-trib position.
- In this event, the rapture is preceded (by maybe a split second) the resurrection. It would be the general resurrection, or the second resurrection of all the dead.
1 Th 5:1-11
- Paul here calls the end times “the times and the seasons” which would correspond with Jesus’ Acts 1:7 reference.
- Paul’s audience knew full well that the “day of the Lord” comes as a thief in the night (2 Pe 3:10), reminiscent of Mark 13:33.
- Just when humanity is convinced God is dead and there is no judgment or Second Coming, when there is peace in the land and everything seems great, this is when “sudden destruction” will fall on the earth.
- The distinction is made between non-believers and believers, since believers are not in darkness and, subsequently, Judgment Day will not come upon them as a surprise. We, as Christians, are to watch and be sober and not be “asleep” like the rest of the world.
- Again, another provocative reference, in verse 9, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This may or may not reference a pre-tribulation view.
2 Th 2:1-12
- Here Paul is trying to reassure those in the Church that the day of Christ had not already come. They were being deceived by others.
- The Judgment Day will not come until the falling away occurs first.
- Likewise, the Judgment Day cannot come until the man of sin is revealed, and he exalts himself above all that is called God, and he sits as God in the temple of God. This is strong support for a third Temple in Jerusalem.
1 Th 1:10
- Jesus delivers the saints from the wrath to come. More support for a pre-trib rapture.
Re 10:7; 11:15
- These two references are quite interesting. In 10:7, we have in verse 6 a strange statement, “there should be time no longer” but this is being replaced by “there should be delay no longer.” I’m pretty sure the NKJV used to say there was time no longer (otherwise where would I have read it?) But now it shows the newer translation. I’ll have to check my print copy tomorrow. But, the LITV has the “time no longer,”so it is possible I found it here. I used to think this mean time, as a property, would actually cease and we would exist in timelessness reality, and that God also existed outside of time. But, there is no other reference to it in Scripture and this rendering is in question as it is.
- But in verse 7 it states, “in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.” Also, in Rev 11:15, when the angel actually sounds, it states, “there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Both of these sound very much like the fullness of the gentiles having been reached, the mystery of God is finished and the transfer of ownership of the world has been completed at the sounding of the seventh (and last) trumpet. This is further support for a post-trib rapture at the sounding of the 7th trumpet.
2 Pe 3:10
- This passage contends that at the day of the Lord, both the heavens will pass away and the earth will met in a tremendous heat, which is in line with Rev 20:11.
- Dr. Heiser refers to this passage as the pit of dispair, since it is quite ambitious and easily and frequently misapplied. I find it quite interesting that it is directly from an angel, so this is not Daniel’s logic thinking but supernatural logic. Yet, it was given to Daniel so he would understand, and, subsequently, it was given to us through Daniel so that we would understand (2 Tim 3:16). Honestly, though, I don’t think it really matters how this passage lines up anywhere. What is important is that we are called by God to be sober, to watch, to pray, and to look for and even hasten the coming of the day of God (2 Peter 3:8-13).
Rev 1-3; 4-18
- They argue that chapters 1-3 are for the Church and 4-18 are for Israel, since the Church is not mentioned in these chapters. I’m not certain an argument from absence is all that compelling. But it is an argument.
- Here we see Jesus physically ascend “and a cloud received him” and they could no longer see him. While they were staring up into the sky (where Jesus had gone), two men were abruptly standing beside them. They were dressed in white apparel and said Jesus would return the same way he left. This is support for a physical, tangible, terrestrial Second Coming, and not a spiritualized or allegorical one. The same can be said of Daniel’s vision in 7:13-14 and the peculiar statement in Psalm 104:3 about making the clouds his chariot.
Discussion of the Different Views
I’ve always found this topic quite perplexing, a little distressing, and overall confusing, but more than anything else, altogether unnecessary.
I personally have little interest in the different views or interpretations of how the end will come – I simply want it to come, and to come quickly. I want this existence as we know it to end. I want the earth and all that is on it to burn and melt in fervent heat. I want the great white throne to be set up in some space and time dimensionality that is beyond the physical realm and for God to sit in judgment upon all those who have lived on the earth. I don’t want another forty years to live. I want it to end now. Immediately. Enough with all this corruption and brutality and evil, where everything is on the take and wicked and nothing is as they claim and everyone is out for themselves and everything has a sin tinge to it, a foulness that simply can’t be ignored.
But, let me comment on each of the main interpretations that have been put forth throughout Church History and in the modern era as well.
I inherited this view predominately from Chuck Missler, but also from my first denominational affiliation, the Southern Baptists, and also the old Independent Fundamentalist Baptists. In the German town I was stationed in for two years, these were the two primary churches available to me, or, at least that I found viable. There were charismatic churches in other parts of the country but not close by and there was the Lutheran Church that I attended once at the neighboring post, but that was very boring.
Mostly my eschatology came from Chuck Missler during those formative years. After that, I never gave the subject much thought, especially since I was so much more involved in issues pertaining to the malformed American Church, and later, in the revealing of the Sons of God, in the peculiarities of the Afterlife, and now in biblical anthropology, Enochian Theology, and Personal Eschatology (death and the intermediate state).
The futurist ideal came easily to me, though I do remember during those early years being hard pressed to ponder a shift great enough in American society where the Church would be truly persecuted and the great falling away could occur. I’m no longer hard pressed.
The 1000 year reign of Christ on earth seemed to fit nicely with the pre-trib rapture, and the narrative was fine. Satan would be imprisoned in the Abyss (most likely Tartarus with the other fallen angels) for 1000 years, only to be released again to deceive the world. I find it fascinating that after a 1000 years of physical rule by Jesus on earth the inhabitants of earth could be deceived. It means they are going to be led astray. Tricked. Lured into a false belief. It’s as if there is never enough evidence for the lost world to believe Jesus is Lord of everything, even being ruled by him for 1000 years!
The first resurrection is of the martyrs who died during the tribulation, and they reign with Christ during the Millenium. Then the second resurrection occurs at the end of the 1000 years, and this includes everyone who has ever lived. Of course, I’m not clear on if those who were alive during the 1000 years lived that long, if death still reigned (logic would dictate that it would), and if anyone living during the Tribulation survived.
At the second resurrection everyone is brought before the Great White Throne for judgment. It is unclear to me if believers are judged here as well as non-believers. Do those who are written in the Book of Life never stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ? Or, is this separate (as Missler claims) from the Judgment of God the Father (Great White Throne)? If not judged, will we be present for the judgment of all the wicked who ever lived? Would we even want to be present to see countless people being tossed into the Lake of Fire?
One thing I liked about the Pre-Millennial view was escaping the Tribulation. I’ve always been Pre-Trib (that is, until recently), though never from actually studying the text. It was a second-hand theology acquired from topical teachings.
I have always found Israel and the Church as distinct groups in eschatology and the biblical account. Paul makes it pretty clear in Romans 9-11 that Israel will be saved. As he states, “that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Ro 11:25). There is a veil in their reading of the Old Testament from the time of Moses until today, keeping them from seeing their own Messiah (2 Co 3:12-16). But, once the last member of the Church is saved by the gospel message, then the veil will be lifted and the Jewish people will see their Christ for who he actually is (Re 1:7; Zech 12:10; 13:6).
Dispensational Pre-Mill sees much of Revelation as future and global. The first three chapters have already occurred, but from chapter 4 to 22, this is still yet to be fulfilled. The same can be said of the beast and the anti-christ (which they do not see as Nero). There is also a preoccupation with taking references literal, such as the 144,000 being from actual Isreal. In this view Babylon is reinstated as the revived Roman Empire (a New World Order), and not only does there need to be an actual Israelite nation in existence at the time of the end, but there needs to be a third temple as well.
I would argue for the third temple, since there is no conceivable way for the anti-christ to stop the sacrifices if there is no temple (which there currently isn’t). This view takes into account the reality that the Old Testament has a multitude of unfulfilled prophecies about Israel as well. If God is to be true, then these will need to be dealt with.
One major argument against any kind of Pre-Millennial view (and actually supports a Preterist view) is the various “coming soon” statements (Lu 21:32; Mark 13:30; Matt 24:34; 16:28; 23:36). These are too often dismissed by pre-mills as to be interpreted as “could happen at any time” or “when it does happen it will happen quickly.” But there is no way to get this from “this generation will not pass away.”
Another issue with Pre-Millennialism is the yoyo effect with Jesus returning for the Church’s rapture, then again for the second coming.
A third argument against the pre-mill view is the tendency of supporters to apply biblical interpretation to current world events (i.e. barcodes, identifying the anti-christ). This seems to be an ongoing issue for the entire Church, since every generation seems convinced they are living int he last days and the end times are just around the corner. Since it has not happened in 2000 + years, there is no reason to assume or predict it will happen any time soon (which itself is a sign of the end – 2 Pe 3:4). I’m personally convinced that we are still living in the times of what will be considered the Early Church, and that there are thousands of years remaining before we reach the “fullness of the Gentiles.” If to God one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day, then there is no telling how many souls he is prepared to offer a saving grace to before he considers the Church complete (2 Pe 3:8-13). The last temple may not be the third, but the fifth or fifteeith. All of the current nations we know of today might end up like the nations before the flood, forgotten and erased from the earth, and new nations and new generations of people might populate the earth who have no knowledge of us or of America. Just like this very land I now camp on as I write this, I have no real idea what life was like for them. The native american inhabitants on this lake died out from small pox before the White’s were even able to settle here. The historical record shows that all camps were erased by disease. Years ago, while out with my cousin, we came upon a point and a canopied area near the water’s edge. He sat down to take a break and just so happened to pick up a large rock sitting next to him. I couldn’t believe it when I realized the rock was an indian bowl.
This event stuck with me for many years after, and eventually led me to doing research on the native americans on this lake during my undergrad. It is fascinating to realize we have no idea, cannot really fathom, what life was like for these people. No conception at all. And this is what it may very well be like for those who come after our civilization. That is, if the Lord does not come back first.
Progressive Dispensational Pre-Millennialism
This is actually a rather peculiar position that I’d not really heard of before. They view the Church and Israel as distinct and utilize the principle”already not yet” for interpreting just about everything. Examples of this would be: Jesus is already crowned and ruling, but his enemies are not yet under his feet. Another would be: we are children of God, yet we are not revealed as Sons of God. They tend to take what is best from post-mill and preterist and pre-mill views and combine them. It is a kind of a hyper, middle of the road view.
I’ve never found the Post-Millennial view to be very convincing. I think it is because of its heavy reliance on symbolic interpretation that steers me away. They argue that the millennium began at Christ’s resurrection, that he will return at the end of the 1000 years after reigning from heaven (no earthly reign or kingdom). They argue that most of the Revelation events have already occurred.
Another major issue I have with this view is their insistence that the millennium is less about Christ’s reign and more about the christianization of the world with the gospel. Humans are, in fact, to bring about the Kingdom through bringing about a Christian world culture that will dominate the planet. Of course, the difficulty here has been that the would should be getting better over time, while, as anyone can see, it is not. Since the inception of the modern era, anti-Christian and predominately pagan culture has swept every corner of the globe. Even now, America, the last holdout, has all but fallen to the radicalization of socialism and perversion. Of all the views presented, the closest we are by narrative is pre-mill. The tragic history of the Church certainly stands as witness against the post-mill view, with the many attempts at theocracy and theonomies, only to have each one fail time and again.
This idea that the new world order is one run by the Church rather than by Satan is laughable. It is, in my estimation, either a reaction to the doom predicted (in that the Christian desires to keep the life they have), or they have been influenced by modern secular psychologies and believe man to be a moral good on the earth, inherently good and only susceptible to external influence, able to bring about their own salvation when God can’t.
It is an optimistic view that, as one Christian told me, paints a picture of doom in the short term only rather than pre-mil where there is just doom everywhere.
It is futile to think that any humans, with the fallen nature inherited from Adam, could establish a theocracy utilizing our own faculties and judgment, and please God. All we do is create monstrosities that brutalize and condemn. The greatest of god governments would be nothing more than Handmaid-like travesties.
Another issue I have with post-mil is their view of Israel vs. the global world. They see “world” in Revelation as “israel” and, thus, are able to interpret away future events yet to be fulfilled. They consider much of Revelation to be poetic hyperbole, like Psalm 6:6 where David says his “bed swims with tears.” It is certainly true this example is hyperbole, but just because the Bible uses hyperbole in no way means that we can discount most of Revelation to appease our own malformed sensibilities.
The best example of this is their interpretation of Revelation 6:14, where the post-mil argues that the mountains are not future events but, like the Preterist, they are that which the Roman workman remove while leveling the road. Likewise, they view Revelation 6:15-16 as Isrealite leaders hiding in caves as supported by Josephus. They see Nero as the beast as identified by the 666.
Despite the blatant allegorical hermeneutic (which gets more people in trouble than it helps), it leads them to interpreting too much of the end time events as spiritual rather than actual.
I’ve actually known some Christians who hold to this view over the years, predominately when serving in the Churhes of Christ. It is a kind of spiritual malaise that allows people to live as everyone else does, since nothing in the Bible is needed and everything is finished and this is the new world and new heaven and the afterlife.
They view the 1000 year period as symbolic, spiritual and not physical, with Christ reigning from heaven or reigning in our hearts, and see the millennium happening, then the tribulation, then the second coming.
Too often they idealize Revelation (if they deal with it at all), and state that the book doesn’t tell you what will happen but describes ideas of how things will happen or the kinds of things that will occur. They state that Revelation reveals nothing specific, but is only generalized teachings.
Invented by Augustine in response to the influence of Greek Philosophy on the Church, as well as an undermining threat of the traditional pre-mil view had on the Roman and Church governments, they opted to focus on the fact that the 1000 year reign is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. Amillenniumism was really a denial of pre-mil rather than it’s own view, as it argued against the pre-mil of the day, stating that the oft quoted OT texts in support are never actually quoted in Revelation. Of course, they fail to note that Revelation 21-22 reference Isaiah 60, Ezekiel 40-48 extensively.
A-mils would are that Revelation recapitulates and recycles the same events again and again (bowls, woes, trumpets, etc).
Full (hyper) Preterism
This steady slide away from a literal interpretative framework ends up in full preterism, where the Christian views the book of Revelation (and all prophecy) as having already been fulfilled.
They would argue that the second coming has already occurred (much like those in Thessalonica – 2 Th 2:2) and there is no literal resurrection, no future resurrection, and no Rapture as described in 1 Co 15:51ff.
They would argue there is no eternal life as described in Revelation 21:4, Isa 25:8; with no more curse (Re 22:3) and no more death (Ho. 13:14. 1 Co. 15:26, 54–58. He. 2:14, 15) and no sorrow. This is not a description I would use for life on earth today. Rather, it is plagued by idolatry, with perversion, with pagan compromise in and out of the Church, and at least seems hell bent on destroying itself.
The historicists are typically Seventh Day Adventist types, who superimpose history onto the biblical timeline, while always ensuring that the end times are current events.
This is just a false view, and typically produces date setters and has led to many disillusioned people. It springs out of the Great Disappointment of the 1800’s and really is not considered a serious view anymore.
It is interesting that this is the Catholic viewpoint, as they see Protestants as the antichrist and reformers saw the Pope in the same light. They would argue that Paul was simply wrong about the Second Coming, a point in which I would agree. There seems to be a kind of coolaid mentality when it comes to the end times, as every generation seems convinced they are experiencing it first hand.
Paul seemed to think that of his generation. There is an argument to be made, given the “this generation will not pass away” statements, that Jesus thought so of his generation. It is the same story throughout history.
Of course, everyone has been wrong thus far (even Jesus).
This leads to discussions, of course, about the Rapture. Is there a Rapture? When does it happen? Are there signs?
Heiser seems convinced that these various views are simply artificial fabrications of human invention, and that there is no way with any certainty to tell the events of the end times. I would, at least partially, agree.
When he asks the question: Are you a splitter or a joiner? I have to come down on the joiner side. He makes a good point with the example of the gospels. When we come to differing texts in the gospels, we attempt to harmonize all the accounts to get at a full picture of the event.
Why would we not do that with the end times as well?
More importantly, though, this falls on the importance of our view of Scripture. Do we hold the Bible to be innerrant? If not, we will say just about anything and twist Scripture to fulfill our own presupposition. This is seen time and again in liberal theologies, where the Bible is used to support feminism or lesbianism or wokism, etc. These are contrivances and have absolutely nothing to do with the actual text. But, people are bent to force the Bible to say what they want it to say (2 Pe 3:14ff).
Heiser states it’s not self-evident to harmonize, but I would disagree. This an established hermeneutic, taking the whole counsel of God, rightly dividing the Word.
There is one ultimate reality and that is Jesus’ interpretation of the Bible, his interpretation of how the physical dimension was created, how it is sustained, and it is his view on how all this will end that is important. Let God be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).
Those who hold to this view are typically Pre-Mil as well. They see no signs to precede the rapture and state the Church cannot suffer God’s wrath (Luke 21:36; Ro 2:3; 1 Th 5:9; 1:10).
It is a fascinating view that I recently have found quite acceptable. This view states the rapture occurs midway in the Tribulation. 3.5 years into it exactly. This comes from the seventh trumpet in 1 Co 15:52 and Re 11:15 and 1 Th 4:16 as well as Daniel 7:25 and Mat 24:15.
I, personally, have long viewed the “last trumpet” mentioned by Paul as the seventh trumpet in Revelation. This not only harmonizes these references, but also provides opportunity for the Church to be raptured before the wrath of God begins.
I used to think I was post-trib (translated: just a rebellious pre-trib), but recently recognized mid-trib as a closer approximation to my view. Post-trib simply refers to the rapture and the second coming happening together and that the Church will go through the entire 7 years of tribulation.
Post Trib Pre Wrath Pre-Mill
This is an interesting view, a kind of hybrid version of post-trib and pre-trib. Instead of the rapture happening at the 3.5 year mark it can happen at any time after the 3.5 year mark but before the wrath of God is poured out onto the world. It does seem curiously similar to mid-trib, so not sure why they need yet another view. Maybe it was to sell a new book!
Then, of course, there is the view that I have claimed for many years, that I first heard Chuck Missler allude to – the pan-trib view. This view states that none of these views really matter all that much since everything will “pan out” in the end anyway. It is an oversimplified way of saying none of these interpretations really matter, stop bothering me.
Which View I Align With?
Each view brings their own presuppositions to the text and, in the end, most if not all interpret “eisegetically” rather than exegetically, or letting the text speak for itself. Then again, there is no clear picture or formalized or single doctrine alluded to that clearly points one way or the other.
I do find it very interesting that Paul and other believers were struggling with this same issue: some were saying the rapture and second coming had already passed them by, others were shocked and said that couldn’t be, and Paul had to jump in to set the record straight. Sound at all familiar?
What we can’t do, if we want to be honest in how we handle the Bible, is gather a collection of references that simply make your view stronger while ignoring or allegorizing away references that don’t. We need to take the whole of Scripture. As already mentioned, this is a favorite (in fact, it is the entire corpus) of progressive theology, built upon what feels right with the Bible wrapped around it (as seen in anti-capitalism or feminist theology).
Personally, I don’t have a great interest or fascination with eschatology or end time issues like the tribulation or the rapture or the millenium. In fact, I’m a little concerned about what we will find on the other side of death, to be completely honest. Will it be as we think? Will there be sin in heaven? Will we have the capacity to sin? Will our standing in “heaven” (whatever that even means) be based on our works, on our faith, or on both? Will there be, as Missler states, many who are quite surprised at what we find? Will there be jobs, money, aspirations? Will there be autonomy? Secrets? Even the ability to keep them without everyone knowing what we’re thinking? Will there be grace any longer? If I commit a sin in heaven, will the Lake of Fire still be an ever present reminder and threat? What are we going to be doing for the Millennium while reigning with Christ if pre-trib is the right view? What will we be doing for eternity to come? Will it pass the way time passes today? Or will there be a perpetuality to heaven that we cannot even comprehend? Will time truly be no more?
I personally prefer already fulfilled prophecy, since it provides some certainty in its own validity. Unfulfilled prophecy really has the same power as a really good guess (until it is fulfilled).
As for the view of the millennium or the rapture that I most closely ascribe to, I would have to say, at least at this moment in time, I would ascribe to a pre-mil, mid-trip position, simply because I think the Scripture is clear that the Church will not endure the wrath of God (pre-mil) and that the rapture happens at the last trump (mid-trib). I’m also convinced that Israel is separate from the Church (Ro 9-11) and those who are saved will watch the unfolding of the Day of the Lord from the air, at Christ’s side.
More pressing an issue, though, than how this will all take place, is when. As already mentioned, every generation has been convinced they were living at the end of days, and yet, life continues on as before. Humanity continues its inevitable slide into depravity while Christians either stand in amazement that the Lord has not yet returned, or get swept up along with the cultural demise.
I’m about 95% convinced that we are still living in a time that will be known in eternity as the Early Church era, along with the last 2000 years we know of as Church History. I think the Plan of God is much, much greater than we can possibly even imagine, encompassing so much more than we have ever expected or would want to include if left up to us. The alternative, of course, is that Jesus was not resurrected and died and was buried and never rose from the grave. If that is the case, as Paul concluded, we Christians are to be most pitied, for we have thrown our lives aways on a lie.
My hope is, of course, that I am wrong and that Jesus will return immediately. Until then, though, I take the advice of my Lord and King, “Watch and pray, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Mat 24:42; Mark 13:33ff; Rev 16:15) that I might be counted worthy to escape all these things (Luke 21:36), being sober (1 Th 5:6; 1 Pe 5:8), living at peace with everyone (Ro 12:18).
Until my next assignment….
- Missler Eschatology Videos
- Hieser, Michael. Prophecy and Eschatology Course 1-6.
- Winger, Mike. Various Eschatology Podcast Episodes
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Sacred the Circle:
There was a knock at the door.
Campbell got up from the chair and crossed the small distance so he could open it.
A young man stood in the doorway, probably in his early twenties.
Campbell could tell he looked a little disheveled.
He had deep rings around his eyes, as if he hadn’t been sleeping much, and he kept checking the hallway in both directions, as if half expecting someone to be stalking him.
“Hey,” Campbell said.
The kid was stumbling over his own words.
Campbell leaned out into the hallway, checking to make sure there was no one else listening.
This guy wasn’t the only one who was becoming paranoid.
There were two students hanging out at the foyer, near the stairs, but the rest of the floor was clear.
“I’m sorry,” the kid said. “Must be the wrong place. I’m mistaken.”
He started to leave.
“Wait,” Campbell said, putting a hand out. “Hold on a second.”
The kid paused.
“What’s your name?”
He fidgeted with his collar.
“I know it sounds crazy, but – ”
“You’re not crazy, Lloyd,” Campbell said, grinning.
“Did you – ? ”
The kid paused, as if unsure if he should continue.
He looked back toward the stairs, then at Campbell.
“Did you know I was coming?” he finally asked. “I mean, that’s not possible, but, were you expecting me?”
Campbell chuckled to himself.
“What’s so funny?” Lloyd asked.
“Well – ”
Campbell pushed the door open all the way so Lloyd could see inside his dorm room.
The entire room was full of them, students, non-students, ranging from what looked like eighteen to even a few middle-aged men, scattered about the room, sitting wherever they could find a comfortable spot.
Lloyd’s mouth dropped open.
“I wasn’t really expecting them, either,” Campbell said. “So, I hope you don’t hold it against me when I tell you, I had no idea you’d be showing up here. Do you care to join us, anyway?”
Buy my book Sacred the Circle to find out what these men are hearing from the supernatural realm. Will they answer the questions tugging at them? What are the visions saying? Who are the Multitude? Why are all these men being brought together? By whom? And why, above all else, are they being convicted….to pray?
But, trust me when I say, you’ll be white knuckling this one with every turn of the page!