An Early Wedding Rapture,
Two Doubts Critiquing a Post-Tribulation Rapture
September 18, 2021 4:45 PM
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Matthew 24:42
Doubt/ Point 1: Watching
If we know the time of Christ’s return to be at the end of the great tribulation, then there is no need to “watch” for His return; we would be fine ignoring the rapture teaching in 1 Thess 4; and just assume the worst—the focus should be on perpetual repentance without a rapture, like as in any other era. This would not really provide encouragement like the rapture of 1 Thess 4, because most Christians will be beheaded (no rapture) and all saints will be somewhat defeated for a season as the antichrist wears even them down:
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Revelation 13:7
If we are going through the entire great tribulation I will just ignore rapture and prepare for a long Brave New World / 1984 type in perpetuity.
So a certainty of post-tribulation seems unbiblical because it completely removes the hope described by the Scripture: “Wherefore comfort one another with these words,” 1 Thessalonians 4:18; and, “when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh,” Luke 21:28.
Doubt/ Point 2: John’s Focus on the Beheaded
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [is] the first resurrection,” Revelation 20:4-5.
John only mentions the beheaded saints in Revelation 20:4-5, so there appears to be a separate saints’ heavenly arrival. This leads me to suppose that heaven-entrances should be arranged in a sequence of at least two judgments of the saints.
In this beheaded Great Tribulation saints’ resurrection, the other dead saints are not yet raised here, or, the bulk of dead saints in 1 Thess 4:15 must have already been raised:
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”1 Thessalonians 4:15
The early arrivals are separated from the late for a specific reason and that reason should be identified. Here are our Post Tribulation Rapture options:
Option 1) John could be saying that the first resurrection also simultaneously included all other dead saints, but failed to mention that. Early arrivals were “the dead in Christ” who “shall rise first” 1 Thess 4:16). Second arrivals would be the victims of the antichrist and the last would be the living saints also being raptured (yet these are not actually resurrected because they never died). Hence, the dead not raised here in Rev 20:5 would be exclusively those damned who are to be raised for condemnation, i.e. the second resurrection, of Rev 20:12.
Option 2) The earliest arrivals only include the beheaded GT saints; some other dead saints are raised after the timing of Rev 20:5. This would mean that the beheaded saints are raised separate from the entire population of dead saints of all history, which has no confirmation anywhere in Scripture and causes a strange void for the rest of the chapter. Where is the rapture after “the first resurrection?” John says nothing. So there probably isn’t one.
We also have a bigger issue for these options:
Only the Beheaded? Why does John focus on the beheaded saints? He could have said “everyone:”
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4
Clearly this isolated group excludes the rest of heaven’s saints.
Further, a Post tribulation rapture thus requires one of the following sequences, which demonstrate an inconsistency in timing:
i. An Immediate Angel Army?
1) The sky rips open. Immediately the enemies of God under antichrist are destroyed as an army of angels prepared for war comes down and destroys the antichrist.
2) Then, dead saints of every past generation rise to the sky, and any living saints remaining on the earth also rise to heaven.
3) But those dead saints who were killed by the antichrist return to the earth, or do not leave the earth, because they must reign with Christ for 1,000 years on earth.
Why bother separating past martyrs from Trib martyrs?
Why does John not mention the most important event of all history right here, when he should be witnessing the wholesale rapture of everyone? If you saw the rapture surely you would not just talk about martyrs! All of heaven’s saints are meeting Christ in the air but John says not a word about them?
This immediate angel army sequence appears to be unbiblical because of Enoch’s prophecy,
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard [speeches] which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 1:14-15
so, let’s assume that The Post Trib Sequence should be:
ii. An Instantaneous Saints Army?
Ruling out an army of angels at the second coming due to Enoch, we must assume that the Saints are raised into the army of Revelation 20:
1) The sky rips open. Immediately the saints are all raised to life and the rapture occurs as well. They all go to the clouds.
2) But as soon as this happens, the saints either commence to have a huge wedding feast with Jesus, leaving a long delay for the antichrist to continue in peace, or, they immediately turn around in the sky clad with weapons and armor. They descend right away, conquer the earth, and then return to the heavens a second time to have the wedding.
After this war there would be a division of heaven so that the beheaded saints can reign on earth. Or maybe John’s observation was limited and in fact all saints can reign on earth for 1,000 years. I doubt that.
Conclusion: Early Wedding
Both a “Mid-Tribulation” and a “Pre-Trib” Rapture offer a more reasonable explanation. This could also be called the Early Wedding Rapture:
1) The rapture occurs and so all the dead in Christ are removed to heaven for the wedding. Everyone on earth witnesses this, but they still harden their hearts, except for the “five foolish virgins” who weep,
“Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:11-13
2) While the wedding is taking place, earth is given over to the antichrist. The antichrist treads down the saints because they are the ones who were not watching for the bridegroom. Practically, all that remain must suffer martyrdom to escape the antichrist’s agenda. This is why John only saw beheaded saints reigning on the earth after the antichrist is defeated.
3) At the conclusion of the Wedding in heaven and the simultaneous Great Tribulation on earth, the raptured and resurrected saints form the army of Enoch and arrive as the Lord’s army to battle the antichrist as written about in Revelation 20.
4) This army already has citizenship in heaven and so they do not remain behind with “the beheaded saints”. They do not reign on the earth for 1,000 years. They “..shall ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words,” 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
Why does John say, “Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years,” Revelation 20:6?
Apparently this is because anyone else on the earth will be unholy and not blessed; they will be recipients of the second death; there are no other saints on earth for John to speak of! This first resurrection has concluded at the beheaded martyrs of the Great Tribulation. The first resurrection is not to reject the other saints, but to say that we must all be part of the first– “the resurrection of life”–rather than the resurrection of damnation:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:25
The resurrection of Life is the first resurrection; they are one and the same. John says “this is the first resurrection” to draw a distinction not against other saints, but so as to end the resurrection of life and proceed to the resurrection of damnation.
Other Scriptures on the Mystery and Surprise of Rapture:
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite [his] fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint [him] his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:42-51
“But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” Luke 17:29-30
“Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together.” Luke 17:36-37
The eagles here represent those whose hearts are committed to “the body,” the church. They walk by the Spirit so nothing worldly can stop them from being included into whatever the body of Christ will receive: in this case, that would be the return of Christ. So they will not miss the rapture.