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14.8. The Timing of the Rapture

Although there are a variety of views as to when the Church is caught away to be with Christ, we believe the Scriptures indicate a catching away of the saints prior to the Tribulation or 70th week of Daniel (Dan. Dan. 9:24-27).

There are expositors who argue that Revelation supports a pretribulational rapture of the church. They cite the following arguments: (1) the promise of exemption from tribulation that was given to the church of Philadelphia (Rev. Rev. 3:10+); (2) John’s spiritual translation to heaven as [a typological] indication of the Rapture (Rev. Rev. 4:1-2+); (3) the presence of the twenty-four elders in heaven which indicates that the church is removed during the Tribulation (Rev. Rev. 4:4+ff); (4) the absence of any reference to the church in Revelation Rev. 4:1+-Rev. 18:1+; (5) the marriage supper of the Lamb coming down with Christ at His Second Coming (Rev. Rev. 19:7-9+); (6) The complete absence of any statement of rapture in the closing days of the Tribulation.1

Additional reasons for a pretribulational rapture include: (7) the Jewish focus of Daniel’s 70th week in light of the distinctions made between the Church and Israel (Rom. Rom. 11:25-26);2 (8) the imminent coming of Christ for His Church precludes prophetic views3 which hold that events such as the revealing of Antichrist or the signing of the seven-year covenant take place before the Rapture (Dan. Dan. 9:27; 2Th. 2Th. 2:1-4); (9) the Church is everywhere instructed to watch for Christ but never Antichrist (Tit. Tit. 2:13);4 (10) believing sheep (which would have been caught up in a posttribulation rapture) are found upon the earth at Christ’s coming (Mtt. Mat. 25:31).

Notes

1 John A. McLean, “Structure of the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 372-373.

2 “God does not intend the church to be present on the earth for any part of the 70 weeks or 490 years that He has determined specifically for Israel and Jerusalem [Dan. Dan. 9:24-27]. He intends to keep His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem and His program for the church separate and distinct from each other, just as Israel and the church are distinct entities.”—Renald E. Showers, Maranatha, Our Lord Come (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1995), 246.

3 Such as the pre-wrath rapture view.

4 “Such passages as 1 Thessalonians 1Th. 5:6; Titus Tit. 2:13; Revelation Rev. 3:3+ all warn the believer to be watching for the Lord Himself, not for signs that would precede His coming. . . . the object of the believer’s attention is always directed to Christ, never to these portents.”—J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 203.