by Paul Benson
(This is part 4 of a series on the biblical timing of the catching-away of the believers to meet Christ. You can find part 1 HERE.)
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. Revelation 19:7
Though many insist God’s dealings with his people during the final years of ‘tribulation’ only concern the Jews, and that there is no reason for the Church to endure those chaotic times, the Scriptures paint a completely different picture. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about this matter.
The Time of Jacobs Trouble
Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:7
One of the strongest assertions made by the pre-trib rapture teachers is that the time of great tribulation is all about the nation of Israel being brought back to God. It’s the ‘time of Jacobs trouble!’ they claim; and it’s ALL about God dealing with the Jews; therefor the Church has no reason to be here.
There are several serious flaws to this theory. First, the claim that the Bible calls the great tribulation ‘the time of Jacobs trouble’; and second, that it’s ONLY the nation of Israel being dealt with in the time of tribulation.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. 3 For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. 4 And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. 5 For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:1-7
Though those preaching a pre-trib rapture demand the phrase ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’ is referring to the Jews during the time of great tribulation I see absolutely no reason to make such a connection! I believe it to be just another false construct fabricated as support for a theory which has no scriptural foundation.
When we read the chapter in context we see that the deliverance from this ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ involves Israel returning from a time of captivity (v.3 above). Do the Jews go into captivity during the tribulation? I thought they were taken to a place of refuge and protected!
And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. Revelation 12:13-16
In this account the woman (Israel) is not taken captive by but protected from her oppressor. No fit to the Jeremiah 30 prophesy! Maybe I am missing something, but to me Israel returning from captivity after the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ is definitely not in sync with the ‘Woman’ being protected in a place of refuge during the tribulation as detailed in Revelation.
Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. Jeremiah 30:18
Though it is clear from the other end-time prophecies that in those final few years of tribulation Jerusalem will be fully inhabited (by the Gentiles as I see it), in this prophesy from Jeremiah we see the promise that this deliverance from the time of Jacob’s trouble, and the Jews’ return from captivity, will involve a decimated and uninhabited Jerusalem being ‘rebuild upon her heaps’. This fits perfectly with the events that transpired in the latter part of Daniel’s days.
After the 70 years of their captivity the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt it!
Jeremiah spent his life prophesying of the coming Judgment of his fellow Jews, and the day Jerusalem would be destroyed and his people taken into captivity. There is no reason to think this prophesy in Jeremiah 30 was not speaking of that judgment and the subsequent events.
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Daniel 9:2
Daniel had read those words Jeremiah had written in his ‘book’ and realized there was a return from captivity, and a rebuilding of Jerusalem, that were prophesied therein. It prompted him to intercede for that to come to pass. This is what we see written in the Bible. *Where did anyone get the notion the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ was anything other than God’s judgment that transpired in ancient times? Out of thin air?
*[Just because verse 24 of Jeremiah 30 uses the words ‘latter days’ does not move this prophesy to the end of days. Latter merely means ‘in the future’ not ‘at the end’. The days of Daniel and the return of the Jews from captivity were certainly later than those of Jeremiah. Over seventy years later! In a similar fashion the out-pouring of the Holy Ghost in the upper-room was prophesied to take place in the last days (Acts 2:17). That also was not speaking of the end of time. (see also Hebrews 1:2)]
Those who insist the time of tribulation in the final years of this age is ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’ do so without biblical support; and even appear to blatantly contradict the very words of the prophesy they are quoting in the first place. What confusion!
And even if this prophesy was, in a dual reference sort of prophesying, talking about the end-times (which I seriously doubt) why in the world should we think God’s dealings with the Jews are the singular purpose of the time of tribulation? Is that something we should take away from all the prophecies on the end-times: that it’s ALL about God dealing with Israel?
For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. Isaiah 66:16
A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD. Jeremiah 25:31
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Luke 21:35
I find it remarkable that those who insist the passage from Luke above is a promise of a ‘rapture off this planet’ to escape the tribulation (because it’s only for the Jews!) fail to notice Jesus said it will involve ‘all them who dwell upon the face of the whole Earth!’ In that day it will not just be Jacob who is in serious trouble. God’s final call to repentance will involve all of mankind; not just the Jews!
The claim that the tribulation is ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’, and that the focus of God’s dealings of that day is strictly upon Israel, is just more bogus pre-trib hogwash! The Scriptures prophesy a sifting of ALL of mankind to precede the Return of Christ – and that includes the Church!
The Sifting of the Wheat
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:11-12
John the Baptist clearly prophesied not only of the coming of the Messiah in his day, but also of the day God would harvest the Crop that would grow from that Good Seed sown by Christ and his followers. And he also prophesied that before that Wheat is ‘gathered’ it must endure the rigors of the threshing floor! It must be threshed and sifted to remove the chaff.
The Bible teaches that before the catching-away there will be a purge!
The idea of the Body of Christ being purged of its impurities prior to Jesus’ Coming and our gathering together unto him is not a popular one. It just doesn’t jive with the theology of many of the Learned Ones of this generation; and thus John’s prophecy of the coming sifting of the wheat prior to it being gathered into the Lords garner is ignored by most preachers and teachers in the Western Church.
One of the greatest ways the Pre-trib Rapture teaching is completely out of sync with the Word of God is the way its ‘Poof! – we’re outta here!’ departure of the Church has the Wheat gathered into the garner without a trip to the threshing floor. But the Scriptures say the Lord will present to himself a glorious Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish (Eph. 5:27)!
The image of an old-time threshing floor is quite foreign to most in this modern world. The average Christian could not even give an accurate description of the activity that would take place during the harvest process in biblical times. In this age of mechanized harvesting we have lost touch with an important prophetic image. An image that was given us to show forth a pattern the end-time events will follow as God harvests his ‘crop’.
In order for the wheat to be consumable it first had to be separated from the stalks and husks that surrounded it. This was somewhat of a brutal process. The wheat would be placed on a hard place (a threshing floor) and then beaten or trodden upon to break loose the undesirable chaff. Then a winnowing fork was used to toss the mixture up into the air. A person or persons would be standing nearby waving large fans to produce a breeze to blow away the chaff from the wheat. As the wheat was repeatedly beaten and trodden upon, and then tossed over and over into the air, this sifting process produced a purged and purified end product that was now fit for use.
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner… Luke 3:17
This tumultuous purging process is the allegory John used to describe what is ahead for the Body of Christ prior to our ‘gathering’ unto Jesus.
It is prophecy – it WILL come to pass!
No matter how folks try to ignore it or deny it (or preach some alternative scenario that is more readily received by the itching ears of the backslid Western Church) there WILL be a sifting of those professing faith in God that will separate the true believers from the make-believers and apostates BEFORE the Return of Christ!
God is going to purge his floor!
Many will blow a fuse if you suggest we actually need to ‘do something’ to be acceptable in God’s sight, or that the Church needs cleansed to be received by Christ at his Return. They will cry ‘WORKS!’; and declare it is only the Cross that makes us ‘acceptable’ in God’s sight.
But… although we certainly DO need to properly esteem and appreciate the Sacrifice that washes us from our sins and sanctifies us in God’s sight, it would be foolish to ignore all the passages in the Bible that show the necessity of true repentance (turning away from defilement) in the salvation experience; or those that speak of a process of purification as a vital part of the normal Christian walk.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; Romans 5:3
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4
Throughout the Bible we find example of how trials, tribulations (and yes, even chastisements from God!) are part of a refining process we must endure as followers of Christ. They are good for us. They strengthen our faith, and are a definite part of our acceptability to God (…without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14). And these refinements are also certainly involved in our reward as believers. The more we allow ourselves to be refined, the greater we can be used of God; and thus the greater reward we shall know!
And, though it makes for some uncomfortable (even perplexing at times) experiences, we should expect this process of purification to be a part of our Christian walk!
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery *trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 1Peter 4:12
*(poo’-ro-sis – ignition, that is, (specifically) smelting (figuratively conflagration, calamity as a test): – burning, trial. Strong’s Definitions)
Gold is purified by a smelting process where it is subjected to extreme temperatures. That’s the allegory Peter was using to describe our own process of refinement! If you have been walking the Christian walk for very long and have never been in God’s smelting pot I doubt you are a true believer.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1Corinthians 11:31-32
It is far better when we take stock of ourselves and make any necessary adjustments to our thoughts or behavior; but if we don’t the Lord has promised to get involved in our purification! And it is wise to submit to these dealings!
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Hebrews 12:5-8
It is an undeniable fact the Scriptures teach God indeed chastens his people; and those who reject his dealings and refuse to submit to, and to endure, his chastisements are rejected as bastards and not sons. They are sifted out by this process.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrew 12:11
Has your Christian experience ever felt like you were being beaten and trodden upon, tossed up into the air, blown about in a fierce wind, and then suffered a hard landing? You have been to God’s threshing floor!
It isn’t any fun; but it sure it good for you. It produces a purity and submission to God that is vital for a proper communion with him and a fruitful service to him! Not only do the Scriptures detail this process of purification in the life of the individual believer, but we can also see it at work in the Church in various passages that deal with the final days before the Return of our Lord.
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 2Thessalonians 1:4-10
I have pointed out many times that this passage from 2Thessalonians is a vivid description of the Lord Jesus returning to rescue a persecuted Church. This rescue of the persecuted Church described here takes place at the Second Coming which is after the tribulation!
Those who claim the Church will not go through the tribulation need to prayerfully read this chapter! When will the persecuted Church be granted ‘rest’, and those who have been persecuting them be punished? When the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with his armies of angels! (v.7 above. see also Rev. 19:14)
I get so fed up with those trying to claim the Bible does not show the Church on Earth during the tribulation. The reasoning given as proof? The word ‘Church’ does not appear from Revelation 4:1 to chapter 19 therefor this means the Church is absent from Earth: So there!
That’s proof? Really?
What they willfully ignore is that the word Church is not used AFTER Revelation 18 either! Is the Church also missing from all the rest of the events described in that book after chapter 18? According to their pretzel logic it must be!
The word ‘church’ is not mentioned in connection with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in chapter 19 either! Is the Church missing from that event also? Or how about the other books of the New Testament that fail to mention the word church (2Peter, 1John, 2John, Jude)? Come on my pre-trib brethren! Let’s get it right!
When we consider all the descriptors of the Blood-bought believers in those chapters of Revelation in question, and add to those the words of Christ in his Olivet Discourse, plus the 1st chapter of 2 Thessalonians, and also the writings of Daniel describing Antichrist’s war on the followers of Christ, we must admit the Bible gives us clear description of a persecuted Church on Earth during the final years.
Only those who are scriptural illiterate, willfully ignorant, or defending a errant theology, would deny such a thing!
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. Daniel 7:25
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. Daniel 12:10
And according to Daniel this end-time Church that will face Antichrist will be in a process of purification that only the wise will understand. I believe this understanding involves discerning the trials of the last days and the Mark of the Beast as God’s divine instruments of sifting that will separate his wheat out from among the chaff and tares in preparation for the in-gathering of his harvest.
The Mark of the Beast
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:9-12
One of the greatest deceptions ever perpetrated upon the Body of Christ is that the Church will not be around to face the Mark of the Beast. It is a lie from the pit of Hell! Those who are teaching this nonsense will stand before God as deceivers who have taught false witness against the truth of his Word. A false witness shall not be unpunished… Proverbs 19:9.
God has had the members of his Church in a refining process since the beginning. This process will come to a head with the introduction of the Mark of the Beast. The Mark of the Beast will be the ultimate and final expression of God’s command to ‘come out from among them and be ye separate’ (2Cor. 6:17).
No more sitting on the fence. No more casual Christianity. No more living life as a believer intertwined with the apostate religious systems of the this world. The decisions forced by the implementation of the Mark will bring all the compromise and pacification plaguing the true believers to an end! The Bride’s garments will no longer be spotted (Jude 1:23).
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. Revelation 19:7
Although much of the book of Revelation is not in a chronological order this chapter (Rev. 19) certainly is. And, when read in that light, the sequence of events given is the destruction of Babylon followed by the Bride now being prepared for her wedding followed by Jesus coming for that Bride with all his holy angels followed by the invitation to the supper followed by the enemies of Christ gathering themselves together to fight him followed by Christ destroying his enemies and casting the Beast and False Prophet into the fire.
FOOD4THOUGHT: If the armies of God (v.14) in this chapter coming out of Heaven with Jesus at his Return to this world are a previously raptured Church as pre-tribbers claim (and not the holy angels of God as prophesied in Matt. 16:2, Matt. 25:31, and 2Thess. 1:7 etc.) the chapter would be a depiction of Jesus bringing his married Bride to meet herself who is now ready and anticipating her wedding that has already happened! This is a perfect example of the confusion the pre-trib fable introduces into the text of the Bible!
The union of Christ and his Bride is not some ceremony that takes place in Heaven sometime after a pre-trib vanishing of the Church. The Groom and his Bride come into union at the Second Coming when she is caught up to meet Jesus in the air as he descends from Heaven. And the only supper detailed in conjunction with this event is the battle that ensues upon Christ’s arrival to rule and reign (Rev. 19:17-21). The teachings contrary to that truth are merely romanticized fiction fabricated in the mind of man that has no biblical foundation.
The Bible does not teach anywhere either a raptured Church in Heaven or any marriage supper taking place there. Those who teach The Bible says! these things are teaching lies. Show me the scriptures that plainly show either one and I will retract those words!
But the point I want to emphasis here is that in this depiction of Christ’s Second Coming it declares that the Bride has MADE herself ready; which means she was NOT ready to meet her Groom previously.
She has been to the threshing floor! She has endured the trials and testings of the final sifting of humanity, and has been separated from all the chaff. Just as John the Baptist prophesied, the Lord has throughly purged his floor, and he will now gather the wheat into his garner!
Jesus is going to sift humanity and purge his Church BEFORE he comes for her. THAT is Bible truth! If your belief system tells you otherwise you have been deceived.
There is a great purge coming upon this world in general and upon professing believers in particular. You can ignore that fact. You can deny it. You can preach some other scenario of escaping that purge to pacify folks and tickle their ears.
Or you can humble yourself and line up with what the Scriptures actually do say!
You can believe what man says about the Bible; or what the Bible actually does speak when you take the time to read it. It’s up to you!
The Bride will meet her Groom AFTER the prophesied sifting. And, in the exact same manner as all the many other passages we have looked at in this series that deal with the timing of the catching-away of the believer, this will take place when?
At the Second Coming!
There is no other timing of the ‘rapture’ given in any passage of Scripture other than at the Return of Christ to rule and reign.
Blessings to all who have a genuine love for the truth, and the ears to hear it;
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