To define yesterday’s end-times theological definitions questions:
- Pre-Tribulational is a term that places the I. Thessalonians 4:16-17 Rapture beforeThe Tribulation judgment on earth.
- Remembering that the Bible does not provide chronologies the way that Western minds like to think, this is our educated position on the Rapture since it seems to align best with Scripture, especially since The Tribulation is a judgment on the wicked lost, noton the Church.
- Mid-Tribulational places the Rapture at the ½ way mark of the 7 years Tribulation, delineating between The Tribulation (the first 3.5 years) and The Great Tribulation (the last 3.5 years).
- Post-Tribulational adherents believe the Church gets raptured at the end of The Tribulation. Their argument is that the Church is not special and shouldn’t avoid judgment. Also, they do not see a difference between meeting Christ in the air (I. Thessalonians) and Him arriving on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). They see these as both one event.
- Premillennial refers to the Tribulation occurring beforethe thousand year Millennial Reign of Christ.
- This is our position since the it appears to line up best with Scripture.
- Postmillennial believes the Millennial Reign is not a literal reign, but an era wherein Christ reigns through the increase of the Gospel. Christianity will increase, and then this period, which occurs beforeThe Tribulation, will usher in the Rapture. This is the view of many covenantal theologians and Presbyterians, though not all.
- Amillennial is a growing camp that does not believe there’s a literal Millennial Reign at all. It believes the Kingdom age started with Christ’s resurrection, and that we’re in the Kingdom age now awaiting His return to bring us into our eternal state.
- Preterism is the view that all of the prophetic judgments and events in the Book of Revelation occurred during that time in the reign of Nero, and much of biblical prophecy was fulfilled by the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. by Titus.
- Hank Hanegraaff, the well-known radio personality, has switched over in recent years to this view.
- We reject this view as it does not line up with much of Scripture, though dual fulfillment of prophecy (fulfillment in one age and then in a second age) is plausible, the idea that almost all end-times prophecies are complete just doesn’t line up well.
Thus, we hold to a Pre-Tribulational Rapture which occurs in a Premillennial fashion (before the Millennial Reign of Christ), and that scores of end-times prophecies have yet to be fulfilled.
Could we be wrong?
Here’s how I see it:
God is in charge, so yes, humans can be and often are wrong.
- g. If The Tribulation begins and the Church is still here, then by default I’ve just become a Mid-Tribulationalist. However, if 3.5 years passes and the Church is still here, then by default I’ve just become a Post-Tribulationalist.
But, we do the hard work of studying the Scripture to understand what God has laid out for us to know. And, since He clearly told Noah that He would judge the earth with water, we know definitively that He has clearly told us that He will judge the earth someday with the seal, bowl, and trumpet judgments of Revelation. The difference? He stated that He would judge the earth with a Flood in 120 years, but has not given us a timeframe of when He will return to commence His final judgment. As such, we read the biblical signs of the times, but mostly look forward to His glorious appearing.
- Matthew 24:44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Our response should be to trust that He is in charge of the details and to be about our Father’s business just as Jesus was while He was on earth. While Jesus was walking the earth He taught on prophecy, but always with the Gospel message of His coming Kingdom as the focus. That’s why Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek first His Kingdom.
An ancient 18thCentury or older hymn (it can be found in some very old hymnbooks though the author is anonymous), calls for us to make a decision to follow Jesus:
Come to the ark—come to the ark,
To Jesus come away;
The pestilence walks forth by night,
The arrow flies by day.
Come to the ark—the waters rise,
The sears their billows read;
While darkness gathers o’er the skies,
Behold a refuge near!
Come to the ark—all, all that weep
Beneath the sense of sin;
Without, deep calleth unto deep,
But all is peace within.
Come to the ark—ere yet the flood
Your lingering steps oppose;
Come, for the door which open stood,
Is now about to close.
- Have you formulated any particular beliefs about end-times prophecies? ______________________________________________
- If so, where do you land (Pre-/Mid-/Post-Tribulational, Pre/Post/Amillennial, Preterism, and so forth)? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Most importantly, do you fully trust that God will take care of the future? __________________________________________________
- This is not as easy as “yes” or “no”. John the Baptist had a hard time while imprisoned, and asked Jesus if He was really the Messiah. Old Testament prophets sometimes had a hard time maintaining their confident faith when things didn’t work out the way they expected. And, the Jews rejected Jesus since He didn’t fit their preconceived notions of Who and What the Messiah would be.
- Do you have areas where the future scares you? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Or, is the future often “out of sight, out of mind”? ___________________________________________________
- Reading the story of Noah, and realizing it’s much more than a cute children’s story, how does God’s detailed instructions and provision encourage you today? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Does His intimate care for Noah also encourage your faith with regards to His future judgment on earth and protection of His church? ____________________________________________
- What have you learned about the story of Noah so far that you were not previously aware of, or that you never saw in this part of Genesis before? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________