The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church
God's Coming Wrath
Jesus Christ is coming to judge the world (Psalm 98:9), and you don't want to be here when it happens, for there will be a fierce and fiery worldwide devastation.
This will be the great and holy wrath of God, often called the Day of the Lord, and it will be directed at unbelievers who are on earth at the return of Christ. In contrast, Christians living on earth at that time will be supernaturally rescued from this wrath.
Now that we are in the end-times, we can see this Day of the Lord drawing near (Hebrews 10:25). It won't be long before there will be, wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come (Acts 2:19-20).
These dramatic signs will get everyone's attention! With a huge exclamation point they will mark the end of this age, letting the inhabitants of the earth know that God's wrath will soon be poured out upon this sin-infected planet.
The Good News
But the good news of salvation means Jesus will rescue all Christians from this coming world-wide wrath, And to wait for his Son from heaven ‚Ä¶ Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
The means of this miraculous rescue will be the Rapture, for Jesus will return in the clouds, and Christians will suddenly and safely be taken from this earth to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Rapture is also the means of relief, of being delivered from great tribulation.
Sadly, many believers do not want to believe that Christians alive in the end-times, specifically during the reign of the Antichrist, will go through the Great Tribulation for a time, but it is true. But it is also true that the Great Tribulation will be cut short (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-30).
This teaching that Christians won't be here when the Antichrist becomes dictator of the world – and therefore will be exempt from the Great Tribulation – is both wrong and harmful. Many Christians have heard that the Great Tribulation is God's wrath, but this is not true.
The Great Tribulation can't be God's wrath, for the word tribulation is defined as pressure, distress, suffering, and persecution, and is what the Bible says all Christians go through in their everyday lives. Jesus said, In the world ye shall have tribulation (John 16:33), and Luke said, we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). Great tribulation just means great pressure, great distress, great suffering, great persecution, and will affect the Christians still on earth in that last couple of years or so before Christ's coming.
The Great Tribulation will be great because of its severity, for Christians will be killed for their faith, and because of its scope, which will be worldwide: Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake (Matthew 24:9). But who of us should not be willing to suffer and die for Jesus in view of the fact that He suffered and died for us?
The Great Tribulation will be nothing compared to the eternal life and love God has given us, and which we will forever experience and enjoy with Jesus and other believers: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).
What to Expect
Revelation Chapters 6 through 9 serves as a manual of what to expect for believers living on earth during the Great Tribulation.
Revelation 6 tells of great tribulation (verse 9) and signs on earth and in the heavens (verses 12-14). Unbelievers will be abundantly frightened, for they will know that God's wrath will be soon in coming, that they will be damned and doomed, and there will be no escape (verses 15-17).
Revelation 7 then tells of a great multitude in Heaven who will worship God and Christ (verses 9-10). This multitude came out of great tribulation (verse 14), that is, were just raptured from the earth. Finally, Revelation 8-9 describe God's punishing wrath on earth.
This, therefore, is the sequence of coming events: great tribulation, end of the age, rapture, and wrath.
What does all of this tell us? It tells us that the Rapture of the Church will follow the Great Tribulation – which is persecution brought on by the Antichrist – but before the wrath, that is, the punishment brought on by Jesus Christ. It is from this time of wrath that believers will be rescued; but woe to those who reject Christ and the Gospel, those who are left behind on earth to be tormented by God's righteous wrath.
Knowing all of this, let us be active in sharing our faith with a lost and dying world.
Steven J. Hogan has been a pastor-teacher for the past 25 years, and at Hope Bible Church of Tampa since 2003.