The Following Paper is a critique of Renald E. Showers book called “The Pre-Wrath Rapture View: An examination and Critique.”
- Chapter 1: The Word Tribulation and Its Concept
- Chapter 2. The Great Tribulation
- Chapter 3: The Significance of the Seals and the Sealed Scroll
- Chapter 4: Observations Related to the Seals
- Chapter 5: Issues Related to the Second Coming
- Chapter 6: Matthew 24 and the Second Coming
- Chapter 7: The Great Multitude
- Chapter 8: The Day of the Lord
- Chapter 9: Second Thessalonians 2
- Chapter 10: The Imminent Coming of Christ
The following is my answer to THE PRE-WRATH RAPTURE VIEW: AN EXAMINATION AND CRITIQUE, by Ronald E. Showers (c)2001.
First, I wish to say that this critique for the most part represents correctly the prewrath view as presented by Rosenthal and Van Kampen. I have read some reviews that consistently misrepresent what we believe on all points, such as by McLean. Showers also presents a very interesting view on the significance of the seals, and the scroll being deed to the earth, which Jesus purchased through His death on the cross. However, this possibility, of itself, produces no difficulty for the Prewrath view. I also admire the godly tone with which Showers presents his case, again unlike some previous reviewers. I only hope my own review can be as godly. Now to the study:
Chapter 1 argues against tangential issues. He argues first that it is okay to call the entire seventieth week the Tribulation Period. I agree with prewraths that this term is nowhere directly ascribed to this time, and personally refer to it as the seventieth week or the seven years. However, I also see his point that it is acceptable to use this term for the entire seven years. We use the terms rapture, Trinity, and others to describe Biblical teachings, even though the terms themselves are nowhere found in Scripture. However, as the seven years already has a term assigned by the Bible to it, the seventieth week, I see no real reason to coin an additional term, which can cause confusion with the Great Tribulation, another Biblical term.
Chapter 2 argues that the Great Trib will last the entire 3 1/2 years of the second half of the 70th week, while Rosenthal and Van Kampen stop this time period with the Day of the Lord at the sixth seal, within that period. He points out that Daniel and Revelation indicate that the Antichrist will reign in Jerusalem for the full 1260 days, and will persecute the Jews the entire time. But it is only insofar as the GT concerns the elect that it is cut short, not as it concerns the rest of the world. There will be some kind of war between AC and the Saints of Jesus, in which the AC will appear to be winning (note that Revelation says he will war against the saints, not just persecute). If this war were allowed to continue, eventually all flesh would be destroyed, but the elect will be removed before this result can happen.
He argues that the term “shortened” for the GT is found in the aorist tense (Matt 24), signifying past action. Thus, he claims, God limited it to 3 1/2 years, for if allowed to continue, it would destroy all flesh. While his view is possible, it is difficult to prove his case on the use of the aorist tense, which does not always refer to past action. The aorist tense is determined largely by its context, and the context here appears to be the sixth seal (Matt:24:22-31), whenever that would be. If demonstrated to be earlier in the week than Armageddon, then Mr. Showers application would be erroneous.
Rosenthal made a statement that Prewrath requires a clear distinction between GT and DOL. This is true only insofar as the GT concerns the Saints of Jesus. As it concerns the time of Jacob’s troubles (Dan 12:1), since Israel is not to be raptured, there is no distinction as far as timing. Thus we can agree that the Great Tribulation and the DOL “will not be TOTALLY separate or distinct from each other.”(p. 35) This does not affect the rapture question.
Chapter 3 presents his case for the significance of the seven seals and the sealed scroll. I have little argument with this chapter, as it does not argue against the prewrath view. But it is interesting to note that Showers agrees with some of the important points in the prewrath view. He agrees that the first four seals apparently correlate to the first part of Matt24. He also agrees that the seventh seal contains the seven trumpets and seven bowls (p.54), which instigates the total bombardment of divine wrath against the domain of Satan and his forces. But he fails to recognize that this is what the Church is promised deliverance from, not generalized earthly judgment and testing as seen in the seals.
Chapter 4 is his observations concerning his case on the significance of the seals. He presents the case that, because it is Jesus Himself who opens the seals, initiating the judgments of the seals, that they are a part of His wrath. But the Church is not exempt from lesser judgment. In fact, one verse declares that judgment will begin in the house of the Lord, referring to Christians. The question is not whether we will be present for any part of judgment, for 1Thess 4-5 is clear that it is the Day-of-the-Lord wrath from which we are to be delivered. We see generalized judgments on earth today, such as the AIDS virus against sexual immorality and drug abuse, which sometimes leaks over to affect the innocent. The seals’ judgments of war, famine and pestilence are, biblically, manifestations of God’s wrath as seen in the OT, as Mr. Showers contends. But they are not condemning wrath, but remedial. God’s DOL wrath, on the other hand, is condemning. The judgments of war, etc, are worked through mankind, whereas the trumpets and bowls are large scale natural disasters or supernatural disasters, as were the worldwide flood of Noah and the fire and brimstone of Lot.
In this chapter Showers argues first that the rise of Antichrist is directly attributed to God, as are the rest of the seals, which is true insofar as explained above. He then concludes “that the events that will transpire when all seven seals are broken will be expressions of divine wrath poured out upon Satan’s domain.”(p.58) So the rise of Antichrist, who is Satan’s creature, is wrath upon Satan? So, the devil’s wrath(Rev12:12) is poured out on himself? Or is he rather released by God to pour out his wrath against Israel and the Saints of Jesus, to fill up the wickedness of unsaved mankind,to purify the true Church and bring Israel to her knees to accept the Lord. I believe the latter is better supported by Scriptural testimony.
On page 65 Showers argues against Rosenthal’s claim that there is no wrath of God in the seals as it obviously involves human activity, and is thus the wrath of man. He explains that God uses warfare as manifestations of His wrath. I have no problem with the basic premise that these are initiated by God, and are judgments as man is released to greater wickedness. However, they are still not the DOL, climactic wrath from which the Church is promised deliverance (1Thess 5).
On page 75 he argues concerning the fifth seal martyrs that they have been witnessing God’s wrath in the seals as they continue to be killed, and they ask when God will avenge them. God responds by telling them he will delay avenging thier blood only until all of the saints who are to be martyred have been killed. He then concludes that “the…way in which the fifth seal will be related to the wrath of God is by its guarantee of further outpouring of God’s wrath after the first four seals. Problem 1: WHY are they asking WHEN God will pour out His wrath, if He has been doing so all along? Showers claims that they have been witnesses to the first four seals, and recognize this as wrath. By his method of reasoning, then, these martyrs should have realized that God was already in the process of avenging them… But God told them to rest a little longer until thier full number was in, then vengeance would come. Problem 2: He makes the common assumption that the souls under the alter consists exclusively of Seventieth week martyrs. But nothing in the text requires that they all be martyrred in this time period. They are martyrs for upholding the Word and having a testimony. While this is similar to the saints in Rev 12:11, there is enough difference to make the connection doubtful. Throughout history wicked men have killed those who uphold God’s Word and testified as to who He is. Won’t their blood be avenged, also? 2Thess 1 says that we will recieve rest from persecutions when Christ appears with His angels to take vengeance. This can be demonstrated at the sixth seal, but nowhere earlier. This argues against Mr. Showers’ complaint.
He argues concerning Rosenthal’s claim that the wrath of God begins with the seventh seal, pointing out the the sixth seal describes supernatural heavenly signs and a great earthquake, causing man to run and hide, declaring that God’s wrath has come. His argument is that the sixth seal certainly qualifies as wrath, as the events are directly supernatural in origination. He adds that Isaiah2:11-22 , writing about the Day of the Lord, describes these same events, thus,” the language of Isaiah’s prophecy signifies that the sixth seal will be within (not before) the DOL wrath of God.” First, Isaiah is describing what will happen in the DOL, but nothing in the passage tells of the first five seals. We agree that this earthquake is directly related to the coming of the DOL. This earthquake, and men fleeing, will happen “WHEN HE ARISES to shake the earth mightily,” and bring in the DOL, not “sometime after He has started pouring out His wrath.” As prewraths agree that the sixth seal is directly related to the DOL wrath, there is no problem!
Showers’ next argument in Rev 6:17 is the aorist tense of “is come.” First he argues that this statement was made by wicked men, and that wicked men normally don’t prophesy; He claims that this is a mistaken cry that it is coming, because they have been under it for some time. His second argument is that, if indeed their cry was prophetic, the aorist tense of the cry indicates a past action, unless something in the context makes it a present or future, and that no such feature exists in the 6th seal. From this he sees two possibilities: 1)Mankind realizes with these events of the sixth seal that they have actually been under God’s wrath and not under a spate of bad luck, or 2) that things are about to get more severe, that there a different levels of severity of God’s DOL wrath.
Problem 1: It is debated whether this part is a continuation of the cry of man, or an addendum by John. Pentacost, I believe it was, believed it was an addendum by John.If it was by John, it is prophetic.
Problem 2: In the context there is a feature which can modify the aorist, for “who IS ABLE to stand?” is a present tense. Also, Luke 21 says that their hearts melting in fear was a result of the things that are coming on the earth, not because of past events.
Problem 3: To say that they cry out because of past events is illogical. It is clear they cry out because of the signs that have just appeared.
Showers’ last set of complaints are that the DOL is to come as a thief, so if the first six seals are forewarnings of the DOL, it could not come unexpectedly. Second, the DOL will come when the world is crying “peace and safety,” while the prewrath view has it coming when they are hiding in the rocks in fear.
Problem 1: The world won’t see the first five seals as signs, only carefully watching Christians. To the unsaved, it will only appear to be works of mankind, as man naturally evolves to be better, a common misconception based on Darwin’s theory of evolution and New Age religious thought. And as prewraths view the sixth seal as the announcement of the DOL, causing men to hide in fear, it does catch mankind of guard. The heavenly signs and earthquake are like the laser sight of a gun aimed right at the eyes of unbelievers, and they know the bullet is about to come and they cannot move out of the way.
Problem 2: Just because the world cries peace and safety does not make it true. The world is trying to bring about peace, through the workings of the AC government. Part of that is warring against the Saints, who are seen as “religious bigots.” Another part is the murder of the Jews, whose presence and own “religious bigotry” cause so much strife in the world. As all this is going on, and as the AC appears to be winning, Israel on the run and Saints being defeated (Rev 12:6; 13:7). Third, again since we see the sixth seal as the inception of God’s DOL wrath, which will begin manifesting with the seventh seal, it comes upon them while they are still crying “peace and safety.”
Most of the arguments Showers makes in this chapter are based on a failure to understand the unity of a single Parousia, or coming, that includes several interrelated phases. Therefore, I will start with an explanation of this.
First of all, the word Parousia is not the “arrival” or the “approach” of the person. This word is the event of the visitation. To illustrate this, consider a revival meeting. A church may have a revival that lasts several days. At the end of each separate meeting, the people go home, the visiting evangelist goes to his hotel or the home in which he is staying. The next day, when it comes time to meet again, they return. But this is seen as ONE revival, and ONE visitation of the evangelist who is conducting the meeting. Likewise, at Jesus’ Parousia, there will be several phases of His one coming. It should be noted that the word Parousia, in relation to the end time coming of our Lord, always appears in the singular, and is used both for the rapture, and for passages claimed by pretribs to be the Armageddon coming. As additional support for the unity of the Parousia, the seventy weeks of Daniel were pictured as a unit, but we now know that there is a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks. Also, in some prophecies, Christ’s first coming and second coming were pictured as a single event, and yet 2000 years have passed between them. Also, the doctrine of the Trinity uses similar logic, one God revealed in three, eternally existent Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the prewrath position, the word Parousia is used only in direct relation to the sixth seal coming, and is not used in passages that we recognize specifically as the Armageddon phase. Also, the other words translated coming or appearing are used in both types of passages. So there is no evidence based on the usage of these words to support the pretrib dual parousia theory. In addition, no passage of Scripture describes a pretrib rapture, and all passages they claim for their view use inference, reading into the text more that is justified by the context.
Second, there are a number of events related to the coming of Christ that do not make sense if they all occur at one time. For example, Zechariah 14:4 says that Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two, so that Israel can flee to safety. When He comes at Armageddon, He will destroy the beast and his armies with a sword coming from His mouth; one OT passaged describes the result, that men’s flesh will rot as they stand there, their eyes will melt in their head, their tongues rot in their mouths. If Jesus is going to instantly destroy the armies of the beast, why would Israel need to flee to a place of safety (literal transl. of Azel). On the other hand, in the interval between the 6th and 7th trumpets God’s mystery program for Israel is completed (Rev 10:7), and the portion of Israel remaining in their land fall to their knees and give glory to God (v.13). Israel has finally repented, and God can put them in a safe place until the bowls of wrath are completed, and Armageddon has destroyed the beast.
Third, there are significant differences between the event described in Matthew 24:29-31, claimed by pretribs to be at Armageddon, and the Revelation account of Armageddon (19). The only similarity are the presence of angels and the descent of Jesus. Differences: Matt. – clouds, Rev – horse; Matt – trumpet, Rev – nope; Matt – great heavenly signs, Rev. – not a trace; Matt – angels gather the elect, supposedly Israel, while Zechariah (see above) says there is a point where they flee to Azel, unaccounted for in the pretrib view of the second coming, Rev – no gathering of Israel seen, the angels only gather the beast and false prophet, while the armies are slain where they stand; Matt – no hint of Armageddon or armies, Rev – armies gathered to fight. The entire effort of pretribs to make these passages the same event are basically based on the presence of Jesus and a wish. Logically they are separate, but again remember that there is only one Parousia.
Pretribs argue that the reason Jesus didn’t mention the pretrib coming in Matthew is that it would have confused them. First of all, much of what Jesus told the disciples was not understood until later, so that is not a logical excuse. Second, it would have been a logical place to explain it to prevent confusion, if a pretrib rapture was a fact.God certainly knew the confusion that would arises in the world in the current age concerning this topic, and it is logical that He would have had Jesus explain the dual Parousia, if such was the reality of the matter. Jesus was speaking privately to His disciples, not publicly to Israel, so that would not hinder Him from explaining the details to His disciples.When they asked Him about His Parousia, the only Parusia He mentioned is that which follows the signs of the sixth seal.
Now to some of Mr. Showers’ specific complaints. He points out that Prewraths rightly see that after the meeting in the air we will be with the Lord forever (1Thess 4:17), but that the Church will remain in heaven during this period. “If the church will go wherever Christ goes, and if Christ will go back and forth between heaven and earth several times, then how will the church remain in heaven during that span of time?” First, some prewrath adherents have suggested that Christ will remain in the earthly sphere the entire time. But this doesn’t really solve the supposed problem, but creates apparent new ones, for the wedding feast is supposed to take place in heaven, for which the groom will be present; and the Bema-seat judgment of believers must take place. Furthermore, John 14:1-3 says that a place is prepared for us in His Father’s house, in heaven, and that we would be brought with Jesus there (if this is taken literally), so Jesus must be in heaven after the rapture, for if He is hanging about on or above earth, then the same argument would place us there too. Also, in the Armageddon passage, He is said to descend from heaven on a white horse. I should note that Christ remaining on earth is not really a problem either. The example that follows momentarily applies just as easily to this view as to the multi-phase view, solving the problem of the Church staying with Christ. The second problem of heavenly events that will precede Armageddon pose no problem either. First of all, Jesus may have the ability to be in more than one place at once. Second, God and heaven exist outside of time as we know it, so one moment of earthly time can be all the time Jesus needs in heaven to judge a billion or more saints, and have a wonderful wedding celebration. While I hold to the multi-phase view, the single-phase view is no problem either.
Having Jesus go back and forth is not the problem Showers imagines. When a husband and wife are married, they are to stay together forever…that is God’s plan. But this does not mean that the wife follows her husband to work, to every room in the house, to the golf course, etc. This is a normal figure of speech used in similar manner even today, meaning that there will be no divorce. I mean, the Bible also says that faithful saints will rule the earth with Christ; does this mean we will all sit in His throne room at all times, or will we be about the earth, doing the work associated with the responsibility? The latter makes more sense. So there is room for physical separation in this verse (1Thess 4:17).
Showers asks how the DOL can come as a thief, unexpectedly, if it is preceded by the signs of the sixth seal. He points out that Rosenthal stated the unsaved will have no sense of impending doom until the DOL arrives, but then states that the heavenly signs will be a signal for them to hide in the rocks from God’s wrath as a precursor to the DOL. ANSWER: As I’ve said before, since the sixth seal signs brings the DOL upon the earth, there is no problem. The Bible does not say it will be business as usual after the DOL appears, only before. There will be a point when mankind realizes that God’s wrath is upon them, and God wants them to know as soon as it happens. Scripture says that the DOL wrath will humble the ungodly, and this could not happen if the AC is still gaining ascendency in the hearts of man during part of this time. At the sixth seal we see God letting the world know that His day has now begun, and they flee in fear. No problem.
Showers next complains that prewraths have the AC ruling for 1290 days, while Scripture gives him 1260. But we see the seventh trumpet as occuring at the 1260 day mark, in which rulership of earth is picked up officially by Christ (Rev11:15-19). The thirty days described by Daniel is the AC’s attempt to stop Christ from kicking him out, while Christ is bringing the full force of His wrath on the ungodly in the bowl judgments. In the end the AC’s attempts are rendered useless, without even the appearance of a chance. During the seventieth week, while he is allowed to rule, he seems to gain ground against the saints and Israel; but in these last thirty days, the saints and Israel are both out of his reach and there will be absolutely no appearance of possible victory for him. The world’s armies will desperately gather to try to stop Christ from kicking them into the Lake of Fire, but Christ will come, speak a word, and everyone will rot where they stand.
******* I’ve got a question for Showers and pretribs: How do you reasonably explain the 30 days and 45 days on top of the 1260 described by Daniel (Chapter 12)? I have never seen this addressed in pretrib literature, although I suppose I could have missed it in the 50 some odd books I’ve perused and studied.******
Showers points out that Van Kampen has the AC rendered useless, paralyzed, and handcuffed at the rapture coming based on a Greek word in 2Thess2. He then asks how AC could be useless if he is still able to prompt the rulers of the earth to gather to fight Christ at Armageddon. First, it is debatable whether this reference in 2Thess refers to the rapture phase or the Armageddon phase, and either way it is tangential and does no harm whatsoever to prewrath if it is Armageddon. Second, if by chance it does refer to the rapture coming, I can see the AC losing much of his allure if the Church suddely disappears as they had warned, and the heavenly signs announcing God’s wrath has the effect Revelation 6 says it does. While the unsaved world who have been following his lead will largely continue to do so, it will be because they somehow see him as thier only hope to victory over God, now that God has shown forth His wrath.
Showers next complaint concerns the Jehoshaphat campaign. Van Kampen presents the idea that there will be a gathering in the valley of Jehoshaphat to destroy the Israeli resistance shortly before the sixth seal coming. How, he asks, can the DOL come upon the unsave unannounced if this precedes it? Again a simple answer: because they are unbelievers. They are not familiar with end time prophecy because they don’t believe it, and so logically don’t read or study it. Only those who are familiar with these prophecies have a chance to see what is happening. Furthermore, those who have willfully rejected the Gospel will be sent strong delusion by God that they continue to believe the lie—so those unbelievers who have had some exposure to prophecy will be deceived by God Himself into not seeing it. Whereas Believers are of the day, not of the night, and should be aware of the signs, it they are watching and ready. (On a side note, not all prewrath adherents believe that this is a separate battle from Armageddon, and it can be reasonably explained as further Armageddon passages and not do prewrath any harm.)
Showers’ first complaint that is not already covered is that the Bible says the heavenly signs come AFTER the tribulation of those days, while Van Kampen changes it to WHEN the tribulation is cut short. He insists that we must change the Scripture to make it say what we want. ANSWER: This is a very serious charge, if true, for the Bible several times warns about changing God’s Word. But the fact is that this is not a problem. The moment the sixth seal is opened the great tribulation of those days as described in Matthew is amputated, while after the sixth seal is opened the heavenly signs appear. To be after does not require a gap of time; after a person slips on a banana peel, they fall…falling is a result of slipping, which is why we say a person slipped and fell to the ground. Likewise, the seal is broken, which cuts off the great trib insofar as it concerns the elect, then the signs appear and Christ removes the Church. No problem!
He then points out that Matthew 24 does not describe the effect these signs have on the population, while the 6th seal does. But with the other correlating points this is not really necessary. Besides which Luke 21:25-28, which is clearly a parallel in thought concerning the Coming of the Son of Man in clouds with great glory, provides the parallel of fearful men.
Showers complains that the sixth seal disturbances are not the only cosmic disturbances of the seventieth week (cf. 4th trumpet, 5th trump, 4th bowl). Read again Matthew 24:29,30. Does it say “cosmic disturbances” or does it describe cosmic disturbances. Then look at the 6th seal and the other cosmic disturbances. Which is a match? You can’t use entirely different descriptions to make a point, especially when there is one that so closely matches! Showers next complains about the Jehoshaphat campaign. He points out that this army has gathered to attack Jerusalem before the sixth seal coming, and that Scriptures indicate Christ will fight against them when He comes. He then points out that the signs of the sixth seal say that everyone, including military, will be fleeing as a result of the signs. Who then would Christ fight? ANSWER: At the Jehoshaphat campaign, Christ will lead Israel’s armies to victory. Jesus appears within minutes after the signs of the sixth seal, while the armies are still fleeing. In fact, Christ’s appearing is part of what causes them to flee, for they cry “hide us from the FACE of Him who sits on the throne…” And when Christ appears, the armies run while Israel chases them down and defeats them. The only time I see in Mr. Showers’ book where he seems to misunderstand the prewrath claims is in this discussion on page 98. Here he says that the cosmic disturbance of Joel 3 cannot be the same as the sixth seal because of his claims I just refuted, which means there must be another like disturbance in addition to the sixths seal. He then suggests that this is the disturbance in Matthew 24. Firstly, prewraths see all three of these as the same event. Secondly, Revelation, which is a detailed account of the seventieth week, only describes these signs one time. Thirdly, the prewrath understanding provides a perfect place for these signs that is clearly laid out, while other views have difficulty finding this balance.
Then there is the complaint that if the armies of the world are destroyed at this Jehoshaphat campaign, then who would be left to fight at Armageddon. ANSWER: Just because all nations are represented in this battle does not mean their entire armies are there. Each of the nations send selected units to attack Israel. Why would they see a need to send their entire force to attack, as they see it, only the Israeli resistance. The armies of the world surely add up to several million members, and logically, in their minds, a few hundred-thousand at most would be needed to quell this rebellion against AC’s rule with ease. … Leaving the rest of the armies to fight against Christ at Armageddon.
While Zechariah 14 is fresh in our minds, let me point something out that I noticed. This passage actually shows all the phases of the Parousia under the prewrath understanding. (vv 1-2) We see the Day of the Lord and the Jehoshaphat campaign. (v4,5a) The seventh seal phase within the DOL when He stands on the Mount of Olives. (v. 5b) He returns with His saints, or holy ones, at Armageddon. (vv.6-8) The millennial reign.
Showers argues that the parable of the wheat and tares, and the parable of the dragnet, focus on the final judgment of unbelievers as they are removed from the midst of the just, while prewrath adherents claim that the rapture before God’s wrath is the topic. Let me state here that these parables could be related to the final phase of Christ’s coming at Armageddon and the sheep and goat judgment, while the good wheat and fish enter the Millenium; these parables are tangential and another interpretation other than that presented by Rosenthal and Van Kampen will do no harm to the prewrath position.
Another argument he raises concerning the parable of the tares is that nothing in the householder’s statement shows that the tares were set aside until the wheat was put into the barn, then they were burned, a view which would allow the prewrath rapture to be taught in the parable. In reply, neither does it say they were burned first, so both sides must argue from silence. The prewrath view can provide a logical defense though. It makes sense that the wheat would be put in a safe place so they don’t catch fire while the tares are being burned. Rosenthal presents the additional support that it was part of the standard farming practices in those days to gather the wheat into the barn before burning any tares. And as for the gathering of the tares before the wheat, this could refer to the time of testing (cf. Rev 3:10), in which mankind must make their final choice with whom they stand, Christ or Antichrist. While this interpretation may be correct,and my position is that it is, let me again reemphasize that this could also be an Armageddon / sheep&goat judgment parable and would do no harm to the prewrath view. Showers presents several other arguments against the usual prewrath interpretation of these parables, but I will not address them as the question does not affect the prewrath view one way or the other.
On page 118 Showers argues that the example of Noah does not show what prewrath adherents claim. “In the Rapture, the saved will be taken from the earth, but in the rescue of Noah and his family, they were not taken from the earth. Instead, they were left on the earth to go into the next period of history after the flood.” ANSWER: Problem 1, this fact is not stated as part of the illustration, so it is stretching the point. I agree that Noah was put on the ark to populate the earth after the flood, but Jesus does not use this point in His illustration.Nor does the example of Lot have a similar parallel to tie it to Armageddon and the Millennial Kingdom (Luke 17:28), which must be considered alongside the example of Noah. Instead, His point was that the world was business as usual until the day that Noah entered the ark, then were destroyed. Christ’s focus was not on the reason Noah entered the ark, but on what happened to the unsaved afterward. This illustration is used in relation to Christ’s coming as described in Matthew24. If this takes place at Armageddon, as most other rapture theories maintain, then we are left with the unavoidable conclusion that it will be business as usual right up until Armageddon. Have you ever read what will happen in the trumpet and bowl judgments, meteors destroying 1/3 of the sea, fire from heaven burning 1/3 of vegetation, all water turned to blood in the bowls, etc.! This does not even begin to fit; it is like trying to put a 12 inch block in a 1 inch hole!! And who are those who are represented by Noah entering the ark? The use of two parables where the righteous are delivered then wrath falls (Noah and Lot, Luke 16) demonstrates that this is part of the illustration. If He was not including a deliverance of saints at the same time in the illustration, Jesus could just as easily have said that it was business as usual as in the days of Noah, until they were suddenly taken by the flood, with no reference to “the day” Noah entered the ark. And what other group can be illustrated as being taken to a safe place while wrath is poured out? That is the whole basis of pretrib, midtrib, prewrath, and even some forms of posttrib rapture theories! And let’s not forget that the context of this illustration is in Matthew 24 and the gathering of the elect at what is clearly the sixth seal which precede the DOL wrath (Joel2:31). Pretribs must argue until they are blue in the face against this relationship, for it is one of the strongest evidences for the prewrath position, with posttrib a distant second place.
In Matthew 24:39-41, two different verbs are used to describe those who are taken and those who are left. Those who are taken by the flood of Noah uses the word “airo,” which simply means, “to take.” The individuals in the field, bed, etc. who are taken uses the word “paralambano”, which means “to take with or alongside.” This second word is used in John 14:1-3 in relationship to Christ coming to “recieve us to Himself.” Showers arguement is that the presence of two different verbs does not necessarily mean it is two different events of taking, in this case wrath and the rapture. He then presents a case that suggests that the ones “paralambano” are taken by angels in wrath to the Lake of Fire. IF… we ignore the context in which this is written, his case is valid. But the fact that this is in relation to the coming described in Matthew 24:29-31, and is surrounded on both sides by warnings to be ready for Christ’s coming or face the consequences, suggests that the rapture and following wrath is in mind. When we consider the illustration of Noah discussed above, the suggestion is firmed up. When we add to that the fact that it is elect that are gathered by angels in v. 31, and that “elect” is always used in Scripture for God’s people, in the NT almost always for the Church, and NEVER for the unsaved, we are left with two possibilities, the rapture of the Church or the gathering of Israel after the seventieth week is complete, for this gathering. And since the example of Noah adds the important information that it is business as usual until this gathering, followed by wrath, by the obvious implication of the case above this cannot be at Armageddon. This leaves us with the inescapable conclusion that this gathering is the rapture, as we are taken to Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Showers next argument is again based on the wheat and tares, which I discussed earlier. This is totally tangential when we see the unity of Christ’s single Parousia.
His next argument is that because the heavenly signs and earlier event are from OT prophecies, that that proves that this gathering “relate(s) exclusively to the nation of Israel, not to the Church.”(p. 125) But this logic is faulty in that the Church was an unknown entity at the time of these OT writings. If we use his logic, then the death of Jesus has nothing to do with the Church either, for they are OT prophecies which are applied to Israel!!! Of course, we know that Christ died for all, including the Gentiles, and that those who believe upon Him are saved and part of the Church.
His next argument is that Jews are also called elect, not just the Church. This is true in the OT, although only once or twice in the NT. But just because they are called elect, does not prove they are the elect in Matt.24. Remember our case about Noah.
His next point is that the elect are gathered from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” He points to several OT passages that tell of Israel being scattered to or gathered from the four winds, which refers to the four cardinal directions. His case here creates the first serious difficulty for the prewrath case, …IF we can’t also make a case supporting our position…. but we can. In Revelation 7:1-3, within the context of the sixth seal as is Matt 24:31, four angels holding the four winds and to whom it was granted to harm the earth and sea are told to wait until the 144,000 are sealed. Within this same context (vv. 9-17) we see a great multitude appear in heaven from the midst of the Great Trib. Then note that the first four trumpets harm the earth and the sea. Apparently, the first four trumpets are also the four winds, just as the last three trumpets are the three woes (8:13). Thus the gathering of the elect is from the wrath contained in the first four trumpets. So, as you can see, prewrath can make a very strong case for the sixth seal rapture based on the four winds. In addition, Mark 13, which directly parallels Matt 24, says literally that the elect are gathered from the farthest parts of earth TO the farthest parts of heaven, the Greek word containing the idea of movement or direction. This pictures perfectly the rapture, and ties in with Rev 7 where the great multitude has just appeared in heaven in the context of the heavenly signs of the sixth seal. NO PROBLEM!
On page 127 he points out that Israel will be gathered after Armageddon by the sound of a GREAT trumpet (Isaiah 27:13), and that Matthew 24 describes a (literally) great trumpet at the gathering. This could be a possible connection, although there is a trumpet at the rapture which could reasonably be tied to this with all of the other evidence piled up. This connection of Mr. Showers is, at best, only a weak point.
On page 129 Showers says, “Matt 25:31-32 refers to another gathering of people at Christ’s Second Coming with His angels,” a gathering of Gentiles at the sheep & goat judgment. His argument is as follows: because this group of Gentiles consists of both save and unsaved that are gathered for this judgment, and because the unsaved are never called “elect,” this gathering cannot be of the elect as in Matt 24:31. Yet both gatherings are in conjunction with Christ’s second coming with angels. Since the gathering in Matthew 25 consists of all Gentiles, saved or unsaved, so the gathering of elect must consist of all Jews, saved or unsaved.” His view has a couple of weak points. First, Prewrath sees the Parousia as a single event which manifests in several phases. The first phase is when Jesus appears in glory with His angels at the sixth seal as described in Matt 24:29-30. Showers admits that the sixth seal precedes the trumpets and bowls, and no passage unabiguously places these same exact signs again at Armageddon, which is the key to his argument. Eventually, as part of Christ’s single Parousia, the sheep and goat judgment will take place. A few individuals will repent and be saved following the rapture to enter the millennial kingdom, assuming they survive the outpouring of wrath. Likewise, some individuals will refuse the mark even if they don’t become saved in the traditional sense, as some men will rebel against the AC’s authority, perhaps as a result of the angel who warns not to take his mark(Rev 14). The sheep and goat judgment is not based on faith in Christ, but on the treatment of Jews and, perhaps, saints during the 70th week. Those who aided Christ’s “brethren” and are not disqualified by taking the mark will enter the millennial kingdom. I agree with Showers that if pretrib were true, these two gatherings must be as he says,…but the position held by prewraths is equally valid under their system of interpretation.
Showers next argument is by comparing Matthew 24:30-31 and 1Thessalonians 4:15-17, and pointing out that there are more differences than similarities. But prewraths compare more: first, they include Matt 24:29 with 30-31, and the parallel thought in Luke 21:25-28; second, they add Rev 6:12 – 7:17, the sixth seal, as it matches Matthew; to this most add Revelation 14:14-16, the first of two harvests. Again, Showers admits that the sixth seal must precede the trumpets and bowls. When just a couple of passages claimed by prewraths are added to the mix, we find they match on virtually every point: we have Jesus appearing in glory (implied in sixth seal), descending, clouds, a trumpet, a gathering of elect (appearing in heaven in sixth seal), mention of the four winds, which can be shown as deliverance from trumpets (see above). If some of the other passages are added, even more correlation can be found, and eventually no contrast remain between the Matt 24 event and the rapture event at the sixth seal. In contrast, in Matthew Jesus is seen only in clouds, while at Armageddon all theories agree He comes all the way to earth on a horse, being mutually exclusive. This was more fully developed in Chapter 5. You cannot take only a part of the key passages in our thesis and prove your point!
One of his points in the above argument needs to be separately explained. His first contrast is that 1Thess describes dead saints being raised, while Matthew says nothing about dead saints when Christ sends the angels to gather the elect. The answer to this is quite simple…the saints are still elect after they die; nothing changes the fact that they are chosen ones (definition of elect) of God. A ridiculous assertion oft raised by pretribs. His points 13 and 14 are equally silly.
Showers first argument critiques Van Kampen’s claims that the great multitude in Rev 7 must be resurrected saints rather than spirits of those slain during the great trib. Van Kampen’s argument is that because they wore robes, waved palm branches in their hands, and stood before God’s throne, they must have resurrection bodies. I agree with Showers that this does not “prove” they have resurrection bodies, and he presents a solid case attesting this. However, neither does his argument disprove whether they have resurrection bodies.
Showers next argues against Van Kampen’s claim that the great multitude of OT and NT saints is a separate group from those martyrred during the great tribulation seen under the altar of the fifth seal, and are not raptured with the rest of the saints but until the start of the new millennium. He goes on to say that this prewrath interpretation must be true in our system, for we cannot have this group(the multitude) come out of the Great Trib by martyrdom rather than by rapture/resurrection. If by martyrdom, they would come individually rather than all at once, while the prewrath view requires that they come all at once. He also points out that prewraths recognize the fifth seal martyrs as saints, and the prewraths acknowledge that they cannot explain the reason for this distiction in which some saints are not included in the rapture. His third point is that all who come into saving knowledge of Christ become part of the Church, and Scripture is clear that all believers will go to heaven at the rapture. Fourth, Showers contrasts the fifth seal martyrs with those who are resurrected at the start of the millennium (Rev 20:4), which verse is the reason Van Kampen thought the fifth seal martyrs would not be included in the rapture. Showers is essentially defending the post-rapture revival required by the pretrib view. ANSWER: It is possible that the fifth seal martyrs will not be raptured at the sixth seal, although that case is difficult to reconcile with the promise to the Thessalonians that all would go together. But there is room in the prewrath view, as explained already, for some to come to repentance following the sixth seal rapture. The saints describe in Rev 20:4 can be these individuals, showing the grace of God to include them in His kingdom. This way the fifth seal martyrs get raised at the rapture, as seems logical, and Revelation 20:4 gets fulfilled. Showers himself argues that the AC will continue to have authority into the DOL, with which prewraths agree, and this passage does not say that they were in the Great Trib as it concerns the Church in Matthew, only that they were beheaded for professing Christ and refusing the mark of the beast. Those who are killed do not appear alongside the great multitude who appeared in heaven in the context of the sixth seal, for they are not resurrected until later. Furthermore, nowhere is it hinted that the great multitude consists solely of martyrs, as the pretrib view requires, so such claims are based soley on their rapture position rather than on clear, solid exegesis. On the other hand, prewrath can show actual direct Scriptural evidence that this multitude are the raptured elect saints based on the proximity of the sixth seal signs in Revelation and Matthew. As an additional point, Revelation 20:4 does not necessarily require that this group of martyrs is resurrected at this time, although the context seem to imply it; it simply states that those who were martyrred by the Antichrist will rule alongside Christ during the Millennial Kingdom. This can be true regardless of whether they were actually resurrected at the sixth seal, or not until this point in the narrative.
Showers next argues that the text of the great multitude implies that all had to have lived during the great trib, for they came out of its midst. This is one of the silly arguments pretribs raise against prewrath, probably because they know deep down that they don’t have much of a real case, and are grasping at anything and everything they can use to try to muddle the issue in the minds of seeking Christians. “Why so harsh a judgment to call this silly?” you ask. Because, if they are raptured and resurrected during the time of the great trib., they meet Christ in the clouds of the earthly sphere (1Thess4) before transferring the the heavenly dimension… they have come out of the Great Trib. Revelation does not say that they all lived in the great tribulation, but that they showed up in heaven out of that time period.
Showers then argues that the great multitude appears from the midst of the great trib. while the elect are gathered after the great trib is cut short. This, they say, is an irreconcilable contrast. Actually, its not. As I stated earlier the Great Trib is cut short by the act of Christ opening the sixth seal, and the rapture is within the time of the sixth seal. A gap of minutes is hardly cause for a controversy. In fact, one verse says the Church will be saved away from DOL wrath, and another uses ek, from the midst. This difference is straight from the Greek…does this cause a problem to pretribs, who also argue that the Church will not see wrath? No.
Showers next discusses the phrase “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation,” noting that the phrase “come out” is in the present tense. He presents a lengthy argument that essentially concludes the the present tense indicates that the number of the great multitude is continually being added to in the context. I will just state that Greek scholars have been divided on this, and while the case Showers makes on this phrase is exegetically possible from the Greek, it’s timing in relation to the evidence of Matthew 24 provides the information to allow this to be a completed gathering. There is not nearly enough strength from just the presence of this present tense verb to prove either case.
His final argument of this chapter is based on the fact that John did not know the answer to the question as to who this group of people were. If they were the Church or OT saints, Showers argues, and since John personally knew some of each of these, and would also have been present in the crowd since he was looking into the future, why didn’t he see them and recognize who they were? Okay Mr. Showers, here it goes: Take all of the people currently in the United States and group them together. Now take the couple of hundred people you know well enough by sight and mix them in randomly, and you do not know where. And now you have about 1 minute to locate someone you know out of this 250,000,000+ people. Sound practically impossible? You’re right! Second, the fact that the elder asked John if he knew them suggests that he might have been able to. He could not have logically recognized them as the so-called tribulation saints, for that pretrib theory is based on what he is seeing, as there is no other passage in Scripture that shows such a group having been taught to the disciples. John is known as a very humble man; he didn’t even give his own name in the Gospel he wrote, instead referring to himself in unabashed wonder and amazement as the one whom Jesus loved. He has just seen a huge number of people in heaven that outnumbers the angels before God’s throne, which he ventured a guess on the number. He may have suspected who they were, been so astounded and shocked at the numbers, and been uncertain of his thought. I know that if I had lived in a day when the whole earthly population numbered only 250,000,000 or so, and I had never seen a crowd larger than perhaps 500,000 (being generous) during the Passover feast in Jerusalem, I would faint dead away at seeing perhaps a billion saints standing before God.. It would be in perfect character for him to ask rather than to venture his own uncertain guess. And having been told that they have come out of the great tribulation would remind him of another group who he had been taught would come out of this time, the elect in Matthew 24. He had his answer!
This is Showers chapter on the Day of the Lord. His first argument is the prewrath claims that there is only one DOL referred to in Scripture. He then argues that some of the past judgments on Israel, such as the Babylonian captivity, were referred to as the DOL (Ezek 7:19 and others). Not all prewraths believe that all references to the DOL are end time prophecies. However, the ones that we list a key passages are, such as Joel 2 and 3. We are pretty much at agreement with Showers and others on which passages are for the 70th week. We only differ on when it starts.
I will briefly explain the prewrath view. Joel says the sun will grow dark, the moon appear as blood, and the stars fall BEFORE the DOL. This matches exactly the sixth seal, which Showers admits precedes the trumpets and bowls. The sixth seal says that man recognizes this as God’s coming wrath, and in Revelation God’s wrath is never mentioned in conjuction with any events that precede the sixth seal, but only in events following it. Third, the strongest Hebrew word for wrath, ‘ebrah, is used only in conjuction with the sixth seal or events clearly after the seal, while milder terms, used for disciplinary anger, are used for events associated with the seal judgments…and the Church is subject to discipline from God. 1Thess 4&5 seems to establish a clear relationship to the rapture and the DOL, for believers are of the day so that this Day should not overtake us as a thief, for we are not appointed to wrath, but to deliverance. This will answer several of his arguments in this chapter.
Showers argues against Rosenthal’s claim that DOL wrath is always characterized by God’s wrath against man, not by man’s wrath against man. (In other words, God does not use the nations to bring DOL wrath.) On this point, instead of quoting Scriptures that show the DOL wrath is used of nations bringing wrath on Israel, all he does is quote theological works in which they also make this claim. Mr. Showers, while it is certainly okay to support a claim by showing that other scholars hold it, you will not convince me unless you provide Scriptural testimony; I base my doctrine on Scripture, not on theologians.
He next discusses the Hebrew words translated as wrath. He quotes a single OT scholar who apparently, from the brief quote, believes that ‘ebrah is actually a weak word, claiming that the other three are “probably” the stronger words. He secondly contests the idea that the DOL wrath is only against the Gentile nations and not against Israel. Regarding the former, one scholar is not enough to convince me. I notice that he does not deny that the word ‘ebrah is only used in the context of the DOL. If this word is only used in conjuction with the DOL, which will bring wrath only paralleled by the great flood and the destruction of Sodom, how can he claim that it is the weaker word for wrath, when the other words are used also for wrath expressed through warfare and other disciplinary anger outside of the DOL? Also, I have no problem with ‘ebrah coming on Israel, too, for they will still be largely unsaved/unrepentant during the trumpets of wrath, which are early manifestation of God’s ‘ebrah. However, they are exempt from God’s completely unrestrained ‘ebrah in the bowls, for by the seventh trumpet they have humbled themselves in repentance, and are given a path to Azel before the bowls are released on the earth. Thus this passage provides no problem for the prewrath premise.
Showers next argument is concerning how long the DOL will last. Rosenthal and Van Kampen believe it does not include the Millennium, while he presents a case that it does. First, whether or not the MK is part of the DOL has no bearing on the timing of the rapture, as the Church is caught up before it begins, regardless. I think Showers’ goal in discussing tangential issues such as this one is to add to the evidence of prewraths consistently misinterpreting Scripture, which, as we’ve seen, he’s failed to do. Not all prewraths believe the DOL is limited to the period of God’s wrath, just as not all pretribs believe that it necessarily includes the MK. I personally lean toward the same view as Showers, that the MK is included in the DOL.
His next problem with prewrath on the DOL is that prewraths don’t understand that there are two kinds of the DOL in the end time, a broad meaning that covers a part or all of the seventieth week, and a narrow sense which is Armageddon, when “Christ returns in His glorious Second Coming with His angels.” He points to Revelation 16:12-16 where the armies of the world are gathered in Israel, then points to Joel 3 and Zechariah 14 which says that the armies of the nations will gather in Israel when that day is near. First, no single passage of Scripture shows both of these supposed Days in a single context, where it is obviously stated that two separate events are in mind. Second, I know of no passage where it refers to the Days of the Lord; I see the days of vengeance, but no “the Days of YHWH.” It is always referred to in the singular, as in, “in that Day.” Pretribs seem to have a problem with seeing two where there is only one, two parousias, two DOLs, because only then is their theory defensible. This is the only way they can say that the signs of Joel, and the coming of Elijah (Malachi 4:5),and the gathering of the nations armies (Joel 3; Zechariah 14) that must precede the DOL does not really precede the DOL, for it is the supposed “narrow” Day, not the “broad” day which they must precede. Oh! and as for the armies that gather when the Day is near, you will recall that there is a battle called the Jehoshaphat campaign, which culminates at the sixth seal (Joel 2 & 3 Rev 6:12-17), and Jesus comes with angels at this time (Matt 24:29-31; 2Thess 1), as well as at Armageddon (Rev 19). On a side note, I believe this battle is led by the 144,000 as the portion of Israel who the Lord leads to victory, and that is how they come to follow the Lamb whereever He goes(Rev 14:4). —- This, incidentally, is support for the position that Christ remains on earth following the rapture, which is at the same time as this campaign, for Revelation 14 pictures the 144,000 following Christ after the rapture.
Showers then turns again to the examples of Noah and Lot. He points out that in neither passage(Matt 24 or Luke 17) is the rapture of the Church specifically mentioned, and that we must base our view soley on the divisions of the 70th week, the significance of the sixth seal, the timing of the DOL, and the relationship of the rapture to the coming of Christ in Matthew 24. His second point is that Christ is illustrating the suddenness of God’s wrath when Christ comes out of heaven, which happens to parallel the day that Noah was shut up in the ark, not the deliverance of the righteous before God’s wrath. He then compares the various groups of those taken and those left, and that Noah entered the ark under His own power, and Lot actively left Sodom under his own power with the assistance of angels, wheras the individual taken from the field, etc. is in the passive voice, meaning they are taken by others. He then refers to chapter six where he presented, and I have already answered, other supposed problems.
ANSWER: In Matthew 28 Jesus gives the Great Commission to the disciples, just as He spoke privately with them at the Olivet discourse. Strangely enough, He didn’t mention the Church here, either, so perhaps this was just an addition to the Jewish dispensation. NOT! Just because Jesus did not mention the Church by name in the context does not mean the teaching does not directly apply to the Church; we do have mention of elect in Matthew, which is a term used for the Church in the NT. And he says there is no mention of the rapture in either passage, but that is because he refuses to see the rapture in Matthew 24:31, which is the context to which the example of Noah refers. And third, a plain reading of Scripture establishes all of the things to which he said our interpretation of Noah and Lot relies. Concerning Showers’ second point, the fact that Noah chose to enter the ark and Lot had to leave Sodom on his own volition, well, Christians choose to receive salvation when God offers it. Note that, while Noah entered the ark on his own two legs, he was shut up in the ark by YHWH (Genesis 7:16), he didn’t close the door himself. We thus see that God secured Noah’s deliverance from the flood, just as He will secure ours before the DOL wrath. Note also that angels helped Lot and his family to leave Sodom…likewise we see angels gathering the elect together to Jesus. There are so many obvious parallels that you have to choose to be blind not to see them or to deny them. And as for the passive voice of the individuals being taken, as the angels gather us at our Lord’s direction there is no problem. We have had eight chapters of absolutely no problems exept the imaginary ones raised by Showers; a plain and simple reading of the text and a little simple logic answers every one.
This chapter concerns Showers arguments in 2Thess 2. He first explains the background of this important passage, and makes several correct observations. He notes that the Greek construction of 2:1 “indicates that this coming of Christ and gathering together of the saints to Him “are two parts of one great event.”…Thus, Paul was referring to the coming of Christ that would involve the gathering of the saints to Him….We can conclude that the real issue at stake with the Thessaolonians was not the FACT of Christ’s coming to rapture the church but the TIME of that coming and, therefore, the relationship of church saints to the judgment phase of the Day of the Lord.”(pp 174, 175)He then explains the prewrath view that that Day (the coming of Christ and our gathering at the DOL) must be preceded by the great apostacy and the revealing of Antichrist. Van Kampen & Rosenthal present the idea that this is related to the signing of the covenant offered by the Antichrist with many (Daniel 9:26-27). They additionally tie this event with Antiochus Epiphanes about 170 B.C. They also identify the revealing of Antichrist with the Abomination of Desolation, and include the fact that the DOL will not begin until sometime within the second half of the seventieth week. This coming associated with the DOL must follow the apostasy and the revealing of Antichrist, supporting the prewrath rapture.
Regarding the apostasy, Showers argues that because Paul did not identify it, nobody can be certain to what it refers, and thus Rosenthal’s suggestion that it refers to the covenant is uncertain. Second, the verb translated “come” merely says that this will happen at some point in the future, and does not indicate how long afterward before Christ’s coming can occur; thus it may only be the very beginning of the apostasy rather than the several years hypothesized by prewraths. Next, Showers emphasizes that this is THE apostasy in the Greek. He argues from various theologians that (1)this indicates that it is worldwide or universal in scope, distinct from limited apostasies in the past; (2) That this apostasy is a sudden event, not over a period of time; (3)That this is apostacy in the absolute sense, implying that it will be complete, it will not be diluted with a mixture that results from existence together with what isnot apostasy, and it will be free from external restraint or limitations. He then establishes that the word apostasy is defined as rebellion against God, which is a characteristic of the unsaved. What follows is his theory as to the significance of the apostasy, which we will look at shortly.
ANSWER: I agree that Rosenthal’s view that this is Israel is uncertain (although I do not discount the possibility). I see another possibility that is better supported in the context. Matthew 24:10 tells us that many will be offended and betray one another. As this portion of Matthew 24 is in the second person, addressed to the disciples in private, this suggests that this warning is for the Church and not Israel. The word “offend” is the Greek word “Skandalon,” which means to fall or turn away because of offense. The prewrath view understands this time as the great tribulation approaches to be, in part, a time of testing and proving who the real Christians are. As persecution increases drastically against those who name the Name of Christ inside the 70th week, many professed believers will be offended as they realize that they must endure part of the seven years, and fall away, rather than continue to trust Christ in a world where such restricts their lives severely. It is sad to note that these scandalized church members will, when the pressure is on them, prove that they have chosen to reject Christ by betraying fellow church members. I do not know of any other time in history where this has taken place on any large scale, but this apostacy will take place anywhere where Christianity was tolerated or encouraged. Thus we meet the criterion that this apostasy is worldwide in scope. Also, note that this places the apostasy just before the revealing of the man of sis, the same as the skandalon and Abomination in Matthew.
Second, the uncertainty of Rosenthal’s view, and the fact that the language does not say how long after the apostasy before Christ’s coming, are not evidence against his view. All it shows is that he may or may not be correct in his assertions. Also, Showers claims that because it is THE apostasy, it will be a sudden event, not a gradual development. Here is the same problem as taking statements that because we are told to watch for the coming of Christ, that means it could come at any moment with no prophecy requiring fulfillment first….IT SAYS NO SUCH THING! Showers is reading meaning into the text which is not there. That is like saying THE fair is a sudden event, when it takes a couple of days to completely set up, and lasts for several days. I agree that the apostasy is rebellion against God, and in Matthew 24 we see this fulfilled.
Here is what Showers suggests for the apostasy within his pretrib scheme: At its beginning, the apostasy of 2Thessalonians 2:3 will be a worldwide or universal rebellion against God’s rule. Before the beginning ot the seventieth week, the Holy Spririt’s work of restraining lawlessness will be taken away from the earth when the church is raptured to heaven. When the church is raptured, all saved people will be removed from the earth. Instantly, the total human population on the earth will change from a mixture of saved and unsaved coexisting to unsaved only. All of those who were not in rebellion against God’s rule will be absent from the earth. All of those who were in rebellion against His rule will be left on the earth. Thus, as a result of the rapture, a sudden worldwide or universal apostasy will occur. He then compares this favorably to the four criteria listed above for the apostasy.
Quite the curious and imaginative scenario. First of all, “apostasia” is related to the Greek word “apostasion,” which is used as a writing or bill of divorce. Thus apostasy carries the idea of becoming rebellious rather than still being rebellious, just as a person becomes divorced, but is not in a divorced state prior to his marriage. But Showers claims that the still rebellious are left on earth, creating the apostasy. Furthermore, Matthew describes a falling away because of offense that meets this central idea of becoming apostate. While I am far from an expert at Church history, the little bit I know is that the early Church generally held a person as apostate who has fallen away from the true doctrines of the Church, not who has never claimed to be Christian. Second, this “apostasy” of Showers would last all of – oh, let’s be generous and say 15 minutes. As soon as the shock wore off a little and the unbelieving spouse, neighbor, coworker, or whatever realized what had happened, there would be a great revival.Thus the rapture would not initiate further rebellion, but a restoration. If Showers can claim that the word THE makes it a sudden event, with equal validity I can say that this word makes it too significant to be a fifteen minute event, followed by the exact opposite of an apostasy – a revival. The logic is the same, and his view is without support. In addition to suddenness, the idea that there is only complete apostasy, with no mixture of that which is not apostasy on earth, is reading more meaning than really exists. That is one of the major weaknesses of pretrib, that they must constantly infer things that are not there.
Showers next argument concerns the word first, and sees two ways this could be interpreted. He admits that the prewrath understanding that the apostasy and the revealing of the man of sin come first is possible. But he also suggests that this verse could be saying that the apostasy must precede the revealing of AC, not before the DOL occurs.The subject of this passage is the coming of the Lord and our gathering in relation to the DOL. His view makes this passage teach that “…the DOL has not yet come. Now don’t be deceived for the apostasy must come before the revealing of the man of sin…” The problem is that the subject of the passage is not the apostasy or, in spite of the space allotted it, the revealing of AC; Thus all the rest of this passage must be interpreted with this firmly in mind. The alternate possibility is not possible in the light of the topic Paul is discussing.
After agreeing that this may teach that the apostasy, etc, must precede the DOL, he adds that this does not, in itself, prove that the rapture must follow those events. Showers points out that some pretribs believe that the apostasy and revelation of AC can take place very quickly between the Rapture and that the DOL start at the beginning of the 70th week (perhaps even all on the same day.) This belief is held because these pretrib adherents recognize that the rapture is clearly associated with the timing of the DOL in this passage and 1Thess 4 & 5. Showers then presents another view that this passage may mean that the apostasy, etc., will take place immediately within the beginning of the DOL – at the very beginning of the DOL, the apostasy will take place first, and immediately thereafter the man of sin be revealed. He states that both of these create problems for prewrath, but cause no problem for pretrib. ANSWER: The problem with the first argument is that Joel describes unmistakable cosmic signs that will appear BEFORE the DOL, which prewraths can associate with the sixth seal and demonstrate follows the revealing of AC at the Abomination of Desolation (Matt 24; Rev 6). Pretribs cannot show a passage of Scripture that relates this to the beginning of the 70th week, and so must drum up two DOLs. This problem was discussed earlier. His second guess is related closely to the hypothesis discussed above concerning the apostasy, and the same problem major problem applies – context. Also, the heavenly signs also create problems for this view.
In his second critique of the prewrath view in 2Thess 2, Showers addresses the identification of the revealing of the man of sin. His first argument is that Paul does not specifically state what this revealing would be, that he did not say that the Abomination of Desolation is the revealing only that the AC would do these things. Second, he argues that the apostasy and the revealing could come at the same time, rather than sequentially, or that the revealing could occur immediately after the apostasy, which “conflicts with the prewrath view teaching that the apostasy will come at the beginning of the seventieth week.”(p185)His third argument is that all of the things AC is said to do, sit in temple, declare self as god, etc., use active verbs in the Greek; on the other hand, his revealing uses passive verbs, meaning that someone else reveals him. Prewrath assert that it is his actions that reveal him, while the passage says that something else reveals him.
ANSWER: I partially agree with his first point, for Paul did not say AC will be revealed BY the following description, only that he would DO the following things. However, neither did he give another event the reveals him; the fact that this information is provided as to what he’ll do may be what Paul was saying would show forth who he is. Prewraths can infer the meaning from actual, existing information, while pretribs can only speculate. And when we look at Matthew 24, we find a scandalized falling away before the revealing, which provides a clear parallel in thought to support our understanding. Second, when the AC commits the Abomination of Desolation, he will not announce himself as the man of sin, but as God. God has told us beforehand that this would characterize the AC, so it is God who has revealed who he is by telling us what we would see him do. Thus the passive verb for the revealing in association with the active verbs of what the man of lawlessnes will do. This answers Showers’ next three points concerning this event, as well.
Showers next, in a lengthy discussion, tries to demonstrate that the AC will be revealed by earlier action, showing that the first four seals will probably be recognizable, particularly the first seal and the signing of the 7 year covenant. First, these events would only be recognized be watchful believers who are expecting to see this covenant, for most of the unbelieving world is unfamiliar with end time prophecy except a few minor details, and pretribs believe the Church will be gone at about this time, give or take a couple of days. Also, this would be a progressive knowledge, as the unfolding events confirmed suspicions. On the other hand, the revealing of the man of sin strongly suggests that this will be a clear event of some kind rather than a progressive revelation. I realize that a pretrib rapture at the time of this covenant would reveal the true nature of it to professed believers who are left behind, and they would start a revival and bring this knowledge to light; but this has its own problems.
How many would, in their right minds, choose to follow the AC following this pretrib rapture, which would demonstrate to the world that God’s Word is true and will be fulfilled. If 250,000,000 people suddenly disappeared off the face of this earth (about 25% of those who profess Christianity), including infants and young children of believers, the rest of the world would know this was fulfilled Scripture from professed believers who were left behind, and from those raised in the church who had left it; thus arguments that the AC would come up with some explanation that would satisfy most cannot hold water. The rapture would make absolutely clear the truth of the AC, and while some might choose to follow him in hopes that he can really defeat God that they might continue to rebel against God, many would not. There will be no skeptics or athiests after the rapture. Furthermore, if the rapture takes place first, mankind, including those who choose to follow the AC anyway, would not be deceived when the man of sin sits in the temple and declares himself God – but 2Thess says that most of mankind will believe him. But in the prewrath view, when he is revealed by declaring himself as God in the temple, some people will refuse to worship him among, even the unsaved, and will not take his mark, even if they don’t have saving faith in Christ.While most will believe him, particularly those who willfully rejected Christ in the past, there is no amazingly fulfilled prophecy of a prior rapture to hinder most of the unsaved world from choosing the AC. Those who survive the DOL wrath and have not taken the mark will enter the Millennial Kingdom. These points essentially answer all of the other problems Showers has with the prewrath interpretation of the revealing of the man of sin, although other points could be made.
Showers’ next discussion is the restrainer of the mystery of iniquity. He agrees with prewraths that Daniel 10 shows the archangel Michael as the defender of Israel, and that 12:1 reveals something that will happen at the midpoint of the 70th week. He first argues that the restrainer is probably not Michael. He first asserts that the in the 70th week Satan and his forces will begin their final and greatest attempt to totally annihilate Israel, and that Michael will be required “to go into full action to prevent that total annihilation.” Prewraths say that Daniel 12:1 teaches that the AC will stand still, rather than stand up, and Showers agrees that the word ” ‘amad” can have this meaning, but that it also can mean to arise or stand up. He then quotes a Hebrew lexicon which says that in 12:1 it especially means “arise, appear, come on the scene.” Showers then points out that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) translates this word as the middle voice form of “anistemi,” which always means to arise; this is used to contrast the noted scholar of Israel, Rashi, who thought it means stand still. His next argument is that the context describes Michael as “the great price which STANDETH for the children of thy people,” using a form of ‘amad; his assertion is that this emphasizes why Michael will arise at the middle of the 70th week, to protect Israel from total annihilation.
I will begin by answering these points, before I go to the next set of supposed problems. First, it does not make sense that Michael, who is pictured as defending Israel throughout history as her national defender, has been sitting down on the job taking it easy, so that he can be said to stand up at this time. Some of the early church fathers said that the great tribulation is to be without restraint, and Daniel was told that the purpose of this time of Jacob’s trouble is to completely shatter the holy people (Israel) (12:7). I’ve got a question for Showers: “Did Satan hold himself back in previous beast empires, and in such times as the Nazi holocaust and Stalin’s murdering millions of Jews?” The great tribulation is said to be significantly more severe than any other persecution in history. It makes more sense that Michael has been restraining even until now, and that he will back off at the midpoint of the 70th week to allow Satan, through his beast, to “shatter” the power of Israel. I mean, does Satan somehow suddenly become more powerful, that he is able to overwhelm Michael and his forces, so that he can bring the worst persecution ever on the Jews? Revelation 12 tells us that Michael and his angels prevail against Satan, who is cast to earth, and allowed to vent his rage. By casting him to earth, probably by trapping him into demon possession of the AC, Michael has put some controls on the AC, so that he must operate directly through his beast. Michael then stands back so that Satan can vent his rage on the earth without restraint, and the devil knows he only has a short time in which to excercise freely his rage on the earth against the people of God.
Showers quoted a Hebrew lexicon, which said ‘amad in Daniel 12:1 means especially to arise. But this statement is an opinion of the scholars, for the meaning of the word is determined by its context. In Daniel 10 Michael is pictured as already defending Israel, and in 12:1 he is said to do something. Daniel is reminded who Michael is, the one who stands to defend Israel, so his standing as defender is being contrasted with what he does at this point, that is his ceasing to withhold. What Daniel is told is, that because Israel’s defender stands still, there will be the greatest time of trouble for Israel in history. This verse describes cause and effect, “Michael shall ‘amad, and trouble shall come.” Showers also quotes from the Septuagint, which apparently indicates the meaning arise, rather than stand still. I do not know enough about Greek to answer concerning middle voices, moods, tenses, etc.,although I am a little suspicious of such hairsplitting as it suggests that only learned scholars are able to understand God’s word, so he might be right about the meaning of the Greek word. But remember that the Septuagint is a translation, just as the English is, and thus subject to inaccuracy on words which have a wide range of meaning, as does ‘amad. Jewish scholars of the same time period often believed that Messiah would come and destroy the nations, but ignored the fact that the DOL would bring suffering to Israel as well as to the Gentiles, before He came. Early in Christ’s ministry, the disciples thought that Christ would overthrow Rome, until He corrected their faulty eschatology. So, while the Septuagint is a good Greek translation of the Hebrew, that does not mean it is a perfect translation.
Going back to Mr. Showers’ arguments, he next presents his case that the restrainer in 2Thess 2 is probably not Michael. (1) The restrainer restrains “lawlessness,” while Michael restrains enemy attacks against one nation, Israel. (2)2Thess uses the neuter gender participle (WHAT restrains), as well as the masculine (he is taken), while the Greek word translated archangel in only in the masculine. (3)Michael is said to stand still, while the restrainer is taken out of the way.
ANSWER: (1) The mystery of iniquity is a term for the AC, and the spiritual forces behind him, Satan. How do I know? This phrase contrasts with the mystery of godliness in 1Timothy 3:16, “God was manifested in the flesh…” Satan is continually trying to bring about the destruction of God’s people, Israel, and Michael is continually restraining him, thus the mystery of iniquity is already at work, but is being restrained from fully manifesting. When the restrainer is removed, the AC, the man of sin, Satan’s antithesis to Christ, will be revealed, and the mystery of iniquity will come full force upon the earth. (2)It is not necessarily a problem that the neuter and masculine are both used of the restrainer. This verse just says that we know what is restraining AC, and he will be removed out of the way before the AC is revealed. It may not be perfect English, or even perfect Greek, to state it this way, but don’t read too much into it. Prewraths can directly tie the restrainer with the activity of Michael by taking both passages at face value. (3) First, I agree that the restrainer is “taken out of the way.” But do you mean to suggest that Michael acts in Daniel 12:1, whatever that action is, on his own authority, or is it by God’s authority? Certainly, if Michael stops restraining the enemies of Israel, it would be done by God’s authority and in God’s timing, thus he can be said to stand still by command from God, “he is taken out of the way.”
Next, Showers defends the view that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit. Part of his argument is point (2) above, as he points out the the Holy Spirit is referred to in both the masculine and the neuter. I cannot argue with this point other than to say that prewraths can offer a reasonable explanation, as I have done above. Then, defending his claim that identifying the restrainer has basis in Scripture, he turns to Genesis 6:3, where God said,”My Spirit will not always strive with man.” This word comes from the Hebrew word which means to govern or rule, in whatever realm. One of the responsibilities of government is to restrain lawlessness, thus the Spirit of God is said to restrain lawlessness. Thus, as the Holy Spirit restrains lawlessnes in the world, the only one who has authority to remove that restraint is God. He next states correctly that the Holy Spirit restrains sin in Christians (Rom 8:2 and others). He then points out that the man of sin is literally the man of lawlessness, and the this man will be the epitome of human lawlessness. He then argues that lawlessness that was already at work was being restrained until the ultimate expression of the lawlessness is revealed at the right time. He then comes full circle that, because God’s Holy Spirit has the function of restraining humanity’s lawlessness, and the AC is the ultimate expression of that lawlessness, it is apparently the Holy Spirit that prevents the AC from being revealed.
First, let me state that even if the restrainer is the Holy Spirit and not Michael, this does not prove the pretrib rapture theory, for the revealing of the AC is apparently associated with the Abomination of Desolation in the text, which is in the middle of the week. Also, if the Holy Spirit stops restraining, it is specifically the mystery of iniquity, the AC that is being restrained, not lawlessness in general, and I doubt that Showers can demonstrate that the Church’s existence somehow restrains the appearance of the Antichrist. For example, look how close Hitler came to winning, before he was finally stopped and turned back. The only reason he lost is that he made the mistake of fighting both Europe and Russia at the same time. Also, it cannot be demonstrated that it was, strictly speaking, Christianity that stopped him. Second, when we look at how the Holy Spirit restrains iniquity, it is only in the hearts of those who choose to listen to Him. He calls, some people obey. He does not restrain the wickedness of mankind in general, who do what they want regardless of what He or the Church says. Thus, even if it is the Holy Spirit restraining the “mystery of iniquity,” the man of sin, this does not require the removal of the Church at the same time.
But Showers has to argue in a roundabout way to make his point that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer in 2Thess. He says that the Holy Spirit strives against, or governs man, that governing includes the idea of restraining, that the AC is the ultimate expression of lawlessness, thus the Holy Spirit restrains the coming of the AC. He cannot point to any verse that directly describes the Holy Spirit as directly acting, or ceasing acting, at this point, so must argue from inference. On the other hand, identifying this restrainer as Michael has a direct connection in Daniel 12, where it can be understood that he ceases defending Israel so that the time of trouble can come, and Revelation 12, where Satan is cast to the earth and allowed to vent his wrath for a short time. Pretribs have the greater onus to defend their view.
Showers raises one more set of questions he thinks are significant in 2Thess. He points out that the Thessalonians were upset because they thought the DOL was already upon them. How could they think they were in the DOL if God’s wrath was not being poured out on them? Logically, they thought it was the DOL because of the persecution they face from unbelievers. They not only understood that the DOL would be characterized by God’s wrath, but also by persecution of those who professed faith in Christ. Because Paul was their source on teaching concerning the DOL (1Thess 5), he had apparently taught them this. This teaching of Paul is significant because of the fifth seal martyrs,and the first four seals are the beginning of birth pangs in Matthew 24 in the first half of the seventieth week before the Abomination of Desolation. Thus because the first half of the 70th week will be characterized by persecution of believers, and Paul apparently taught that the DOL would be characterized by persecution, Paul taught them that the first half of the 70th week is part of the DOL.
This case makes two assumptions, first that Paul taught the Thessalonians that the DOL will be characterized in part by the persecution of the Saints, and second, that the error of the Thessalonians thinking was that they were already in the DOL. Both of these are inferred, but are not necessarily true. Paul was only able to stay in their city for a couple of weeks before the Jews chased him out, and Paul taught them concerning a great number of doctrines, so he may not have had time to give a full treatment of the DOL as it relates to the rapture. This lack is what allowed the deceivers to convince some of the Thessalonians that this persecution was that associated with the DOL.
Second, I believe that the error being taught the Thessalonians may not have been that the DOL had already come, but that it was about to. The phrase, “is at hand,” can be interpreted either way. If you read a little further in this letter, Paul went on to rebuke them for not working. It appears that the Thessalonians may have done what date-setting churches in recent times have done – many had stopped working in anticipation of Christ’s coming, and were being disorderly and begging off the others in the Church to provide them food. It is logical that this disorder was a result of the false teaching concerning the DOL. It is interesting that, in chapter 10, Showers presents the same idea, that they had stopped working in excitement at, as they saw it, the nearness of Christ’s coming. However, even if they thought they were in the DOL, Showers’ argument is faulty. As we’ve already seen, what Paul taught was that the DOL must follow the apostasy and the revealing of the man of sin. Mr. Showers’ case that these can take place at the start of the seventieth week were demonstrated above to be very weak arguments. As it is easier to identify the revealing as the Abomination, and as the DOL must follow this, and further as the DOL is preceded by the heavenly signs of the sixth seal which are described in Matthew as following the Abomination, along with a gathering of elect, his arguments are insufficient to harm prewrath.
This chapter is Showers’ defense of the theory of imminency, which he defines as an event which can literally happen at any moment. He further clarifies that an imminent event cannot be legitimately said to be coming soon, for that implies that a short time must take place first. He first argues that the prewrath understanding of the expectancy of Christ’s coming, that the Bible tells us to watch for it, does not rule out imminency, that they thought it could come immediatly. I agree with him that expectancy does not, in itself, rule out imminency. But if they knew of things that must happen first, they could not have held to imminency, which by definition means nothing must happen first.
The next couple of pages he presents several theologians who claim that the early church held to belief in imminency. On the contrary, the earliest church writings, if they touched upon the matter at all, taught that the Antichrist must come first and persecute “us the Christians” before the resurrection/rapture. Space here does not permit me to present this evidence, but all of the prewrath books quote some of these references. He next argues against prewrath claims that the Bible does not teach imminency by countering that many scholars say it does. Just because scholars make this claim does not mean it’s true. Showers then quotes these scholars as they directly address the verses said to support imminency. We will now consider some of these.
J Barton Payne argued that the stress of these passages is that the saints desperatly longed for Christ’s coming, and “the lack of evidence for any postponement seems to suggest the ‘perhaps today’ mentality.” You can argue almost anything from silence. Do pretrib scholars expect every reference to the coming of Christ to refer to the coming of the AC first? Several passages already make this clear (2Thess 1&2; Matthew 24 and Mark 13). It would be tedious to always refer to signs in relation to the coming.
Gordon D. Fee stated that, in 1Corinthians 1:7, Paul had an “ever present” concern about Christ’s “imminent return.” So let’s look at this verse: (7-8) “…that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Where does this verse say Christ’s coming is imminent? It says we are WAITING FOR the apocalypse [lit.] of Jesus. The earliest it can be demonstrated in the book of the Apocalypse (Revelation) that Christ appears is at the sixth seal when mankind cries out,” Hide us from the face of….”(Rev 6:16) And again, this can be tied to Matt 24, which follows the Abomination of Desolation.
1Cor15:51-51 “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twingkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” A.L.Moore says,”Paul does not write as one who will certainly be dead at the Parousia, but as one who awaits the Parousia as an event which might occur at any moment and therefore he reckons with the possibility of his being alive at that time…” Other quotes are similar. ANSWER: Where does this say it could happen at any moment? It teaches that the rapture is an instantaneous event, in the twinkling of an eye, but it does not say anything in regards as to whether it is imminent or not. I agree Paul considered the possibility that he might be alive to partake in this glorious event, but that does not mean he did not foresee events that must transpire first. The Antichrist signs the covenant 7 years before Armageddon, and rules for only 3 1/2 years after the Abomination; Paul could have understood the rapture to happen after the Abomination and still believed he might be alive at the end to be raptured, for it is not as if these end time events will last longer than his reasonable life expectancy.
1Cor 16:22 brings up the word “Maranatha,” literally “our Lord come.” He argues that this Aramaic phrase was picked up by the Greek speaking churches as a sort of code word, and that it establishes the supreme importance to which the Church held the doctrine of the second coming. With this I agree. But unlike these other scholars, I fail to see how this requires or suggests that Christ could come at any moment. It was certainly a code that they used to encourage one another to stand firm in their faith, as well as a prayer that the Lord come. But again, nothing in the text says one way or the other whether prophetic events are to precede this coming.
Philippians 3:20 “for our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word translated “look for” is a strong compound that emphasizes the intense yearning for the Parousia, and that we are to look for one thing, Jesus. But of course we are looking for Jesus! I never said anything contrary, for it is Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. But just because we long for the return of Christ, and look for that return, does not mean that prophetic events are not required to take place beforehand. We will see signs of Christ’s Parousia (Matt 24:3), but we look for Christ, not signs.
Philippians 4:5 “…The Lord is at hand.” This is correctly interpreted by the scholars Showers quotes as meaning that the second coming is near, but it does not mean that it is imminent in the pretrib sense. It means, in context, that we need to be ready, for it could come shortly. It does not say whether anything will transpire first. As always, pretribs must argue from silence.
1Thess 1:10 “And to wait for his Son from heaven…” The argument is that the Greek phrase “wait for” carries the implication of waiting for someone who is arriving at any moment. It supposedly pictures waiting up for a guest you know is coming, and could arrive at any moment. It is argued that if you knew that it would be several hours yet before they arrived, they would not have to wait up for them; They would go to bed and set their alarms to wake them at the known time of their guest’s arrival. First of all, his argument is anachronistic, for they did not have alarm clocks in those days to wake them at whatever hour they wished. Second, the signs of the end of the age can be likened to the knock on the door when the guest arrives, and to the guest walking up to the door. Thus in Matthew Christ said when we see ALL THESE THINGS, we know that His coming is near, at the very doors. Blessed is that servant who, when the master knocks, opens to Him immediately, having been watching and ready. Thus this statement in 1Thess 1:10 does not preclude the idea of events transpiring first.
Regarding 2Thess 3:10-12 Showers concludes that the reason these believers had stopped working was in excitement of the belief that Christ’s coming was imminent, with which I agree (see above). But he can’t have it both ways. If these people thought Christ’s coming was imminent, then the false teaching Paul was correcting was imminency, for he told them that the coming of the Lord and our gathering in relation to the DOL had not yet come, for the apostasy etc. must come first. If Paul was correcting the teaching that the DOL had already come, then the Thessalonians could not believe Christ’s coming was imminent but that they had somehow missed it, for in Paul’s first letter to them he clearly established that the Church would be delivered away from the wrath associated with the DOL (1Thess5).
Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Showers: The word “looking” carries the sense of “to await.” The word “hope” in the NT means assurance, not wish. The word “blessed” refers to the joy of salvation. The Greek phrase translated “the glorious appearing” is better translated as “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ;” thus the Christians hope is the appearing of the glory that belongs to God and Christ – so the Christians will certainly see that glory in Christ when He comes to rapture the Church. In context, this hope is a catalyst for holy living as we wait for the great event. With all of this I agree totally. His comment: “Why should Christians always be prepared for Christ’s coming, unless that coming could take place at any moment?” ANSWER: First, because we could also die at any moment and not have a chance to repent, and have to face Christ when He comes. Second, because God promises extra protection to many faithful and persevering saints within the great tribulation (Rev 3:10). Third, because God also promises especially hard times within the great tribulation for some types of churches (Rev 2:22). Fourth, because Christ warned us to be faithful servants and not wicked servants (Matt 24:45-51). I could go on. Also note that we are looking for the appearing of the glory (doxys)of Jesus. In Matthew 24:29-31 Jesus appears in the clouds with glory (doxys).
James 5:7-9 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord…. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: For the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against the another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: gehold, the judge standeth before the door.” I will address only one issue here, which renders his following arguments moot. Read the portion he cut out to abbreviate the passage: “…See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the ocming of the Lord is at hand [draws near].” A farmer waiting for the turns of the seasons for his harvest hardly suggests imminency in the passage. In fact, this suggests a period of waiting before the harvest, thus the need to wait patiently. Christ’s coming has been “at hand” for nearly 2000 years, so it is difficult to argue that this REQUIRES belief in imminency, in light of the example of the farmer. This illustrates the need to consider the context of a passage. We saw this in the last chapter where one moment the error of the Thessalonians was that the DOL had already arrived – from which the Church is exempt and should already have been delivered – and the next moment claiming the error was the belief that the imminency of the rapture meant they should stop working, for it was about to happen.
1John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” Showers argues that the Greek word “when” introduces an element of uncertainty as to the timing of Christ’s coming. Thus, he concludes, Christ’s coming “might be while they all still lived.” “…we can conclude that John’s statements imply that Christ could come at any moment,” and so we should be continuously ready. ANSWER: First, it is being ashamed or not at Christ’s coming which is John’s focus, not the imminency of that coming, as can be seen by reading the next verse. Second, the word translated as “appear” is a form of the Greek word “phaneroo,” which Strong (#5319) says is the act of becoming openly, shiningly visible. This is a strong verb, implying an open manifestation. On the other hand, pretribs say we await a secret coming wherein Christ will not yet be openly manifested. What’s more, “His coming” is the Parousia, and Jesus, in describing His Parousia in Matthew 24, placed this event after the Abomination, at the sixth seal. At this event, the sign of the Son of Man will appear [another form of phaneroo], and Christ will come in glory. No passage of Scripture directly places another Parousia at or before the start of the 70th week.
Revelation 3:11 “I come quickly.” Showers asserts that this word means swiftly, all at once. The context of this is the letters of Revelation, and particularly v.10 which is a promise of divine protection within the great tribulation. (Note that verse 10 is a fierce battleground among all rapture theories.) The word translated “keep” in verse 10 is “tereo,” which means to observe or to keep a watchful eye upon, rather than removal. The word “from” is “ek,” which typically means out of the midst. Thus the phrase “tereo ek” means to protect in the midst of the hour of trial.The hour of trial can be shown as the great tribulation. This is a time of testing, of putting to the proof what mankind, including the professing Church, is really made of. It is in this context that our Lord promises that He is coming swiftly.
At this point, a brief discussion of the seven letters to the churches will be helpful. These churches were actual churches of John’s day, and had the problems and strengths described therein. But these churches also represent major types of churches that will enter the seventieth week. This is made clear when we read in all of them the promise or threat of Christ’s coming or the guarantee of great tribulation (a term always used for the eschatalogical tribulation), etc. Thus the promise above to the faithful church is a promise that this time of testing will not last too long, that Christ will come a catch away His bride. This promise is repeated in Revelation 22:12-20. After describing the events of the seventieth week and the great tribulation, at the conclusion of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, He reminds us that He is coming swiftly, and we need to hold fast and not lose hope in this terrible time of testing. God brings this time of testing on the earth, but He promises us that He will come for us, so don’t get discouraged. This is one of the greatest promises of the Bible, and one which we will need to cling to when the great tribulation comes upon us. Matthew 24 and others warns that many will not cling to this hope, but will be offended and fall away, even to the point of turning on those they once called family. We must be overcomers (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, `12, 21; 12:11). CLING TO THE PROMISE!
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