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WILL THE CHRISTIANS GO THROUGH THE

GREAT TRIBULATION?
The above question is one of the most important confronting
the church today. Unlike many other questions in which opposing
views are polarized between spiritual and unspiritual segments of
the church, in this case each side of the question is represented by
believers who are in many cases deeply devoted to the cause of
Christ. There are three possible answers to the question of whether
1
or not the samts go through the tribulation:
1. First, that all Christians go through the tribulation and their
translation will take place afterward.
2. Second, that none of the Christians go through the tribulation
but all are translated before that event.
3. Last, that Christians who are prepared and ready are translated before the Great Tribulation in a first-fruit rapture, and the
final harvest rapture and resurrection will take place afterward.
The first group points to such Scriptures as Matthew 24: 29-21
in which Christ's coming in power and glory is said to take place
after the tribulation.
Certainly a reading of this Scripture would cause one to conclude that there is a gathering together of the elect at the end of
the tribulation. To deny this would require an unpermissible
manipulation of the Scriptures. A number of other passages agree
with this statement of Christ's.
On the other hand, those who teach a pre-tribulation rapture
summon an impressive array of scriptures to back their view.
Perhaps the strongest support of this position lies in the fact that
Jesus repeatedly warned the church to be on the alert for His
coming which could take place any moment. Therefore, to say
that Christ cannot come until after the tribulation obviously destroys all thought of imminency. In that case, instead of watching
for His coming, we should be looking for the rise of the antichrist
and the Great Tribulation. After that, we can count off some
1260 days before the Lord could come.
What then is the answer to this seemi ng contradiction of views?
This book seeks the scriptural solution to the paradox. The answer
lies of course in the fact that both sets of scriptures are correct.
An explanation of this is the story of this book.

Wf/2Jfte Chrialiana
(}o 2Jhrough 2Jhe
(}real :J.itufalion?

by Gordon Lindsay

Published by

CHRIST FOR lliE NATIONS


Dallas, Texas
Reprinted 1986
All Rights Reserved

CHAPTER I

Will The Christians Go Through


The Great Tribulation?

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
CHAPTER I
Will the Christians Go Through The Great Tribulation? 3
CHAPTER II
Will Any of the Christians Go Through the Tribulation?

CHAPTER III
Will All the Christians Go Through the Tribulation? ....... 11
CHAPTER IV
The Woman Clothed with the Sun and the Rapture
of the Mancbild .. ... .. ... ......... .... .... .. ...... ....... ........ 20
CHAPTER V
The Parable of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins.. . 23
CHAPTER VI
What Will Be the Effect of the Rapture on the World?..

28

CHAPTER VII
Some Questions Answered About the Pre-Tribulation
Rapture .. .... ... .. ... .. .. ... .. ... .... ............................. ......... 33

We are about to consider one of the most important questions


that confronts the evangelical church today. That question is:
Will the Christians go through the Great Tribulation, or will they
be raptured, caught up out of the world before the tribulation?
That there is to be a time of trouble exceeding anything in
previous history which will come upon the world just before the
coming of Christ back to earth is clear from the Lord's words in
Matthew 24:21-22, 29-31:
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since
the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened. there should no
flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be
shortened."
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the
sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and
the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens
shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son
of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth
mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the
clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall
send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they
shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one
end of heaven to the other."

That this particular tribulation occurs just before Christ's coming


(and not back in the Dark Ages or A.D. 70 as some think) is
perfectly evident from the above text. The coming of Christ which
is attended by certain celestial phenomena is to take place "immediately after the tribulation."
We are told plainly and clearly that with the close of the Great
Tribulation, Christ will appear and gather together His elect from
one end of heaven to the other. From this it is obvious that the
question is not whether any Christians will go through the tribula-

tion, but whether all the Christians will go through the tribulation?
In other words, will some of them be raptured before that time?
Let us notice what Paul has to say about this event in his epistle
to the Thessalonians :

It is our purpose to examine the evidence and see just what the
Scriptures have to say on this most vital matter.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as
others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died
and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will
God bring with him. 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'' (I Thes. 4: 13-17).

There is a very important reason why we must find the correct


answer to these questions. The Bible makes many references to
the fact that God's people should be in momentary expectation of
the coming of Christ. If, however, all phases of that event occur
after the Great Tribulation, then it is plain we should not be looking for the rapture first but for the tribulation. If, on the other
hand, there should be a possibility that Christ will take part of the
church, or all of the church, before the tribulation, then our personal preparation for the bridegroom's appearance is a pressing
matter and not to be delayed until after the tribulation.
Nevertheless, before we go further, we should take note of
another question. For as soon as the subject of a pre-tribulation
rapture is raised, someone is sure to ask: What is the purpose of
it? Is it merely to escape the suffering that other Christians will
undergo? Millions have shed their blood for Christ. Indeed we
are told that "If we suffer, we shall reign with him." The apostles
suffered. Paul especially suffered many things. Likewise did Peter.
Nonetheless, after James was killed by Herod and Peter was about
to be executed, the church prayed without ceasing for him. The
result was that Peter was released from prison so that he could
continue to serve the cause of Christ. Apparently in this case
Peter could be of more use to the Lord outside of prison than in
his becoming a martyr.
Therefore, it is obvious that if there are Christians to be translated before the tribulation, it must be that God has a purpose for
them to serve and not merely that they should escape suffering.
Could it be that the Lord has some important role for certain
believers to play in the winding up of the events of the age? Concerning this matter we shall have more to say later.

The same event is referred to in I Corinthians 15: 51-52:


'Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but
we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an
eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the
dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

Although practically all evangelical Christians believe in this


wonderful event referred to by Paul, we must note that there are
sharply differing views about when it will take place. One group
maintains that the whole church will be translated before the
tribulation. Another school takes the view that there is. no rapture
until after the tribulation. Both sides present an array of Scripture
texts to sustain their position. Which one is right? It is the purpose
of this little volume to seek the Bible answer to this question. But
to answer it fairly, we must first dismiss any preconceived opinions
and go through the Scriptures carefully analyzing each statement
that relates to the subject.
Now plainly there are three possible answers to the question.
They are as follows:
1. First, that all the Christians will go through the Great Tribulation and their translation will take place afterward.
2. Second, that none of the Christians go through the tribulation
but all are translated before that event.
3. Last, that Christians who are prepared and ready are translated before the Great Tribulation in a first-fruit rapture, and the
final harvest rapture and resurrection will take place afterward.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT

CHAPTER II

Will Any Of The Christians Go


Through The Tribulation?
One of the views that we have noted is that none of the Christians will go through the tribulation. 1t 1s said that before the
event takes place Christ will catch away all that are saved, removing them from the earth.
We believe, however, that this view does not adequately explain
certain important Scriptures that relate to the subject. These passages clearly teach that at least some of the Christians go through
the tribulation and for this we give the following proof :
1. Daniel shows that there will be Christians on earth during
the tribulation. The seventh chapter of Daniel tells about four
great kingdoms that would arise in the earth. Out of the last kingdom, at the time of the end, there would arise "a little hom." This
"little hom" is generally recognized to symbolize the antichrist of
whom it is said, "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" (Dan. 7:25). Immediately afterwards " the little hom" will be destroyed and Christ
and the saints will reign (Verses 11, 22) .
Thus the Scripture plainly infers that there will be Christians
on earth during the reign of the antichrist. "(He) ... shall wear
out the saints of the most High." It is obvious that the antichrist
could not "wear out the saints" unless there were Christians present
on the earth.
From even a logical aspect, the concept that there will be
Christians upon the earth during the Tribulation is quite probable.
For example, the individuals who had been exposed to the Gospel
message and previously rejected it will begin to reconsider their
views in light of the appearance of the antichrist and other events
predicted in the book of Revelation. Many who once scoffed at
the Bible will, no doubt, begin to seriously seek the Lord. Being
in a position of viewing fu!Iilled prophecy on such a dramatic scale

would stimulate great numbers to believe what they had not


previously.
2. Jesus taught that the gathering together of some of the elect
takes place at the close of the tribulation.
We have quoted this passage before but because of its importance we repeat it:
"For then shall be great tribulation. such as was not since
the beginning of the world to this time, no. nor ever shall be
. .. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the
sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and
the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens
shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of
man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth
mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the
clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall
send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall
gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end
of heaven to the other" (Matt. 24 :21, 29-3 1).
A simple reading of these verses reveals that Christ's coming
and the gathering together of the elect takes place after the tribulation and not before. The Lord makes it plain that His reference
is to the Great Tribulation, a time of trouble so severe that "except
those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved."
Nor could this gathering of the elect refer just to Jews. It speaks
of the gathering of God's "elect ... from one end of heaven to the
other." The thought expressed is that this gathering of the "elect"
refers to more than the Jews; the church is also called the elect
(I Pet. 1 :2).
3. The Gospel of Mark teaches that a gathering of the elect
will occur after the tribulation.
"But in those days, after that tribulation. the sun shall be
darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. And the
stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven
shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man
coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then
shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect
from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to
the uttermost part of heaven" (Mark 13 :24-27).
Mark's teaching corresponds exactly to that of Matthew's. The
gathering of the elect by the angels occurs after that tribulation."
Luke 21 :25-28 also teaches the same thing in different words.

4. The Man of Sin to rise first before the visible coming of Christ.
"Now. we beseech you, brethren. by the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That
ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by
spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the
day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any
means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of
perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that
is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God,
showing himself that he is God . . . And then shall that
Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the
spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of
his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working
of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (II
Thes. 2:1-4, 8-9).
Here again we see that the coming of Christ does not take place
before the rise of the antichrist (also called the "man of sin" and
the "son of perdition"). The Lord's corning for His believers takes
place afterward. Paul emphasized that no one be misled that that
day is at hand, for it cannot come until the "man of sin be revealed."
5. John saw a huge multitude come out of the Great Tribulation.
The last verses of the seventh chapter of Revelation indicate
that a multitude of Christians will live through the tribulation.
We are shown a great multitude standing before the throne of
God. They are not Israelites, for we are told that they are "of all
nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" (Verse 9). When
John was asked who they were, he could not answer. But the angel
said, " ... These are they which carne out of great tribulation . .."
(Rev. 7:14).
6. The antichrist makes war with the Christians during the
tribulation. Chapter 13 of Revelation, as most prophetic scholars
agree, relates to the reign of the antichrist. If there were no Christians on earth during the tribulation, the antichrist could hardly
make war against them. But we are told that he does make war
with the saints. In that the Book of Revelation agrees with Daniel's prophecies. From this and otherScriptures, we see that the
evidence is that there will be some Christians on earth during the
tribulation.
7. The Book of Revelation declares that the final reaping of the
earth by Christ occurs after the tribulation. Revelation 14:9-13

shows that at this period in the tribulation, the antichrist is s.till giving the mark of the beast; and the Christians are still being persecuted by him. In other words, the antichrist is reigning, the ttibulation
is still on, and some Christians are yet on earth. Then as we come
to Verses 14 through 16 of that chapter, we see "one . . . like
unto the Son of man" reaping the harvest of the earth which is
evidently the harvest which folloy.'s the Great Tribulation.
8. The types of the Scriptures indicate a post-tribulation rapture
and resurrection. The Bible speaks of a special period of "seven
days" elapsing before the flood came (Gen. 7:4). Now "days" in
prophetic symbolism often refer to years (Nu. 14:34). Noah did
not go into the ark until the end of the seven days before the
flood, for we are told in Luke 17:27 that on the day that Noah
entered into the ark at the end of the seven days, so at the end of
the seven years of Daniel's Seventieth Week the Christians go into
God's ark, as it were- by rapture ancl' resurrection-and after that
judgment takes place.
9. Judgment came on the day that Lot went out of Sodom.
"Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot: they did eat,
they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted. they builded;
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 17:28-30).
The day Lot was taken out of Sodom, the terrible judgment
came on the city. So likewise, the day the saints are removed from
the earth, the judgments of the Great and Terrible Day of the
Lord begin. In other words, these take place at once after the
saints are removed. There is no time then for the rise of the
antichrist and for his three and one half year reign to occur after
the general harvest, for the wrath of God is poured out immediately after the saints are taken out. This truth is fully substantiated
in Chapters 7 and 8 of Revelation. As soon as the Great and
Terrible Day of the Lord begins, there is only a slight pause until
the Apocalyptic Trumpet judgments begin. Thus do the Scripture
types indicate that the general harvest occurs at the end of the
tribulation.
One thing that confuses some Bible students regarding this
question is that the Scriptures speak of the believers' not being
"appointed to wrath." If that be so, they say, why should any of
the Christians go through the tribulation? Their confusion lies in
the fact that they suppose that the Great Tribulation and the Great
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and Terrible (Notable) Day of the Lord, also called the Day
of God's Wrath are the same thing. But these are two different
events. This is easily seen by noting Matthew 24:29 in which
the Great Tribulation occurs before the darkening of the sun and
moon. On the other hand, the Great Day of His Wrath follows
the darkening of the sun and the moon (Acts 2: 19-20; Rev.
6: 12-17). Some Christians will go through the tribulation, but
none through the Day of God's Wrath.

CHAPTER III

Will All The Christians Go


Through The Tribulation?
Having settled the fact that some Christians will go through the
Great Tribulation, we now have a somewhat different question
before us. The question now is, will all Christians go through the
tribulation? Or, is there a called-out group who are caught up
before the tribulation? What is the evidence? Certainly this is a
matter that should be examined closely. The answer must not be
based upon one text, but upon the entire Bible evidence. It should
not be based on what we think it ought to be, but rather upon
what God's Word says. The writer believes that this evidence
indicates strongly that there will be a first-fruit rapture and resurrection before the Great Tribulation. Here is the evidence:
1. The Lord's warnings to be ready for His coming are all
marked with the thought of imminency. In all of Christ's warnings
concerning His coming, the thought of imminency is always implied. The word "imminency" means an event is impending,
although it does not necessarily mean "immediacy." The idea
intended is that we should be ready for His coming at any moment.
An example of many such texts is found in Mark 13:35-37:
"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of
the bouse cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you
sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."

Apparently from this, as well as many other similar statements


by the Lord, there will be an element of surprise in the coming of
Christ. Now those who would limit the rapture of the Christians
entirely to the one occurring after the tribulation, exclude the
thought of imminency. For example, we do not consider the Great
White Throne Judgment to be imminent, for we know that the
thousand year Millennium must first intervene. Likewise, if the
Great Tribulation must occur before any rapture takes .place, then
there cannot be the element of imminency. Indeed, if that be the
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case, then we are not now to look for Christ's coming, but rather
our attention should be directed to watching the rise of the antichrist and the Great Tribulation. If we are to watch for the Lord's
corning only after the tribulation, only after we have counted off
the 1,260 days of the antichrist's reign, then and then only can we
expect the rapture to take place. As Christ says, "Immeditaely
after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened . . .
and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven . . . "
(Matt. 24:29-30) . We repeat: If the post-tribulation rapture is
the only phase of Christ's coming, there can be no such thing as
the imminency of His coming. Nevertheless, His words on His
coming surely imply imminency.
Summing up: The tribulation rapture and resurrection cannot
be said to be imminent, for that event will not take place until
after the tribulation. On the other hand, a first-fruit rapture, if it
takes place before the tribulation, can be said to be imminent.
Because we cannot know when such a rapture will take place, we
can say that the event may take place at any moment. This harmonizes with the words of Jesus when He said, "But of that day
and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in
heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:32).
2. The out-resurrection of the Old Testament Saints. The Scriptures speak of an out-resurrection of the Old Testament saints.
The verses that refer to it are often passed over as not of special
significance. Actually, they have an extremely important bearing
on our subject:
"And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain
from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the
rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of
the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after
his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared
unto many" (Matt. 27:51-53).

first-fruit resurrection of Old Testament saints, then the pattern or


precedent is set for a first-fruit resurrection of New Testament
Christians, which we believe the Scriptures show takes place
before the Great Tribulation. And with this first-fruit resurrection,
there will be a simultaneous first-fruit rapture.
3. Paul taught that there was an order to the first resurrection.
"For as in Adam aD die, even so in Christ shall all be
made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits: afterward they that are Christ's at his coming"
(I Cor. 15:22-23).
Here Paul shows that there is an order to the first resurrection:
"Christ, the firstfruits: afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (There are no commas in the original Greek text, and they
must be supplied by the translator.) Although Christ is the first
of the first-fruits, He is not all of the first-fruits. Revelation 14
clearly teaches that there will be a relatively large company of
first-fruit saints, which it would appear correspond to the firstfruit resurrection of Old Testament saints.
The above text shows that there is an order to the first resurrection. If every believer were resurrected at the same instant,
there would be no order to the resurrection, and the above Scriptures would be meaningless.
Conclusion: There is an order to the first resurrection (1) Christ
first; (2) A first-fruit resurrection of Old Testament saints; (3) A
first-fruit resurrection and rapture of New Testament Christians;
( 4) The final harvest resurrection after the tribulation.
4. Paul sought to be in this out-resurrection. Did Paul speak
elsewhere of a first-fruit or an out-resurrection? He did indeed,
and he tells us he sought to participate in it:
"If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of
the dead (margin: from among the dead) ... I press toward
the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ
Jesus" (Phil. 3:11, 14).

These verses declare there has already been an out-resurrection


of the Old Testament saints. In other words, the precedent of an
out-resurrection was established at this time. Moreover, this proves
that the first resurrection is not an event that must all transpire at
one given instant. True, the general resurrection of the righteous
dead takes place at the end of the age after the Great Tribulation.
But here is a resurrection of Old Testament saints that occurred
right after Christ's resurrection! Not all the Old Testament saints,
but " .. . many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came
out of the graves after his resurrection . . ." Since there was a

The reader should study both the text and context carefully.
Paul declares he was putting forth every effort to be in the outresurrection. The Greek original reads "the resurrection from
among the dead." It was a prize that Paul eagerly sought. But
was all this effort put forth by the apostle simply that he might
be in the general resurrection of the righteous in which every
saved person will participate? The answer is, "No." Paul's S~1l''a
tion was settled long ago. As to his perso::~cil salvation and

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assurance of a part in the first resurrection, he said, "For I know


whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep
that which I have committed unto him against that day" II Tim.
1:12).
Paul was not seeking salvation by some strenuous and prolonged effort so that he might have a part in the general resurrection. What he was after was the prize-the prize of the outresurrection! Of this, he says, "I have suffered the loss of all things,
and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ . . . that I may
know him, and the power of his resurrection ..." (Phil.3:8, 10).
All of which shows that we too may seek for the prize--the
prize of the out-resurrection, or out-rapture should we be alive at
that time.
5. Christ's promise in Luke 21:36 to those worthy to escape all
things. Jesus in Chapter 21 of Luke speaks of the time of trouble
that precedes the darkening of the sun and the moon and events
which usher in the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Now
concerning these days the Lord says,

Yet, the Scriptures refer to another kind of worthiness for which the
person for his efforts and labor receives certain rewards.
Finally, the words "stand before the Son of man" are significant.
They suggest a rapture in which the believer is caught away "to
stand before the Son of man" in the heavens.
While this Scripture if it stood alone might not absolutely prove
a first-fruit rapture, it certainly is very much in harmony with this
teaching.
6. Christ's promise to the Philadelphia church of being kept from
that hour which is to try the world.
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also
will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come
upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Behold, I come quickly : hold that fast which thou hast, that
no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3:10, 11).

This verse warrants the most careful study. It is a special promise to those believers who "watch ... and pray always." It does
not appear to be a promise to the run-of-the-mill Christiansthose who coast along in their Christian lives. Second, it speaks of
escaping "all these things"--evidently referring both to the tribulation period and the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord of which
Christ is speaking. "All these things" imply the escaping of both
events. All believers will escape the judgment of that Day of
Wrath, but those who "watch . . . and pray always," will escape
both. Third, Jesus speaks of being "accounted worthy." No man
can be "accounted worthy" of salvation-it is free grace and
Christ's worthiness or righteousness is accounted to us for that.

Here is a promise to be kept from the hour of temptation which


will try men who dwell on the face of the earth. The hour of
temptation is not to be confused 'Yith the Great and Notable day
of the Lord which does not come to try men, but to punish the
wicked and to execute judgment on the world.
On the other hand, the antichrist is permitted to try those who
dwell on the face of the earth, to determine whom they will serve,
whether it be God or Satan.
The verse appears to be a special promise to those who keep
"the word of my patience." It is generally understood by prophetic
students that the Philadelphia church symbolizes the faithful church
which is in existence just before Christ's coming, in contrast to the
lukewarm Laodicean church which will not be ready (Rev.
3:7-22) .
The Lord speaks of setting before this church '"'an open door."
What does this mean? If we let the Book explain itself, we find
that the "open door" signifies, among other things, the open door
of rapture to heaven. In the very next chapter, John is caught up
to heaven through the "open door" (Rev. 4:1). Chronologically
in the prophetic narrative, this catching away of the apostle is at
the end of the church age and just before the Great Tribulation.
Christ also adds in His message to the Philadelphia church, the
admonition, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou
hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3: 11). Here the coming
of Christ is related to those believers who are ready to receive
crowns. Not every believer will receive a crown. Some will be
saved by fire. The truth in this verse is consistent with the thought

14

15

"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).

That is when these things begin to come to pass we are to


understand that our redemption draweth nigh. Moreover, in this
connection, Christ gave us a promise that is deeply significant. We
are told that there is an escape from the great distress that is to
come upon the nations. He says:
"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 :36) .

of a first-fruit rapture. Furthermore, the Lord related these Philadelphia overcomers to those who will become "pillars" in the
temple of God.
Christ declares that He will write upon him the name of His
God, something which is said of the first-fruits of Revelation 14:1
who have the "Father's name written in their foreheads." These
first-fruits, as we shall see, are in heaven during the Great Tribulation, and this indicates that a first-fruit rapture has already taken
place (See point 9).
The Lord closes with the words, "He that hath an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 3: 13). Are
we able to hear?
7. The 24 Elders in heaven w_ho wear crowns before the Great
Tribulation reflect a first-fruit rapture. We have mentioned
John's being caught up to heaven through the "open door." This
"door" that is opened in heaven, and the voice of the "trumpet"
calling him, speak of a rapture. John the Beloved, one of the
Apostles of the Lamb, who will sit on one of the thrones of Israel
(Matt. 19:28) is apparently a representative of the first-fruit
rapture and resurrection before the tribulation. For the tribulation
does not come until Chapter 6 of Revelation.
Now the scene that John sees is that of 24 elders who sit on
thrones and who declare that they shall reign as kings and priests
on earth (Rev. 5:10). These elders either must have been raptured or have received resurrected bodies. Crowns are not given to
disembodied spirits. Therefore, a rapture has certainly taken place
in the scene presented in Revelation 4. Since the harvest rapture has
not yet taken place and will not until after the Great Tribulation,
this must represent a first-fruit rapture.
8. The 144,000 first-fruits of Revelation 14 appear in heaven
while the tribulation is still on. In Chapter 14 of Revelation, we
are shown 144,000 on Mt. Zion. We are told that they are the
first-fruits unto God, that no guile is found in their mouth, and
that they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These are not
tribulation Christians, for we are told that the Great Tribulation is
still on, and people on earth are yet receiving the mark of the
beast (Rev. 14:9-10). They are, therefore, of the first rapture. They have the name of God written upon them, as promised
to the Philadelphia church (Rev. 3: 12) . They sing a new song
before the throne; they are without fault before the throne of God;
and they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.
On the other band, the tribulation harvest is not seen until
16

Verses 14-16 of Revelation 14, at which time the Son of man


comes and reaps the harvest of the earth :
"And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the
cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head
a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another
angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him
that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap : for the
time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is
r ipe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the
earth; and the earth was reaped" (Rev. 14:14-16).
(Note: These 144,000 on Mt. Zion are not the same company as those
in Revelation 7. The only similarity between the two companies is their
number and that they have the seal of God in their foreheads which probably will be true of all God's people (Rev. 22:3-4).
The 144,000 of Revelation 7 are Israelites while the 144,000 of Revelation 14 are redeemed from the earth.
The 144,000 Israelites are living on earth during the Great and Terrible
Day of the Lord and need protection by sealing (Rev. 7:3). On the other
hand, the 144,000 first-fruits are already in heaven at that time before the
throne of God (Rev. 14:4-5).
Earthly Zion could not contain 144,000 people. The 144,000 Israelites on
earth live near, not on, the earthly Zion which, at the most, could hold only
a few thousand people. We can safely assume that there is plenty of room
for 144,000 saints on the heavenly Zion as well as an "immeasurable company of angels."
The 144,000 of Revelation 7 are still on earth during the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, while the 144,000 of Revelation 14 are in heaven
during the Great Tribulation and the events which precede the Day of the
Lord.
It is obvious for these and other reasons that the two companies are not
identical.)

9. The Enoch and Noah type indicates rapture before tribulation.


As if this evidence were not enough, we have at least two types
in the Old Testament which indicate a rapture before the tribulation.
Enoch is a type of the first-fruit rapture: "And Enoch walked
with God : and be was not; for God took him" (Gen. 5 :24) . His
translation took place well before the flood; therefore, it is a type
of the pre-tribulation rapture.
Noah, on the other hand, is a type of the tribulation Christians.
Seven days before the flood, Noah gathered the animals into the
ark (Gen. 7: 1-4). Those "seven days" correspond to Daniel's
Seventieth Week, the last half of which is the Great Tribulation.
In prophecy a day often symbolizes a year (Nu. 14: 33) . At the
end of "seven days" the great judgment of the flood came, which
is a type of the Great Day of the Lord.
"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of

17

the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the
flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in
marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And
knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so
shall also the coming of the Son of man be' CMatt. 24:37-39).

Noah and his family in the ark were raised up with the ark
above the judgment of the flood and so became a type of the
tribulation harvest that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24:29-31.
The tribulation Christians rise after the tribulation and are not
caught in the judgment of the Day of the Lord.
(Some see Noah and his family as a type of Israel sealed. This
may also be true. Christ, however, likens Noah's going into the
ark as a type of His Second Coming.)
10. Elijah is a type of the first-fruit rapture.
"And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked,
that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of
fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by
a whirlwind into heaven" (II Kings 2: II).

searching for missing loved ones but will not be finding them.
During the tribulation the wicked will mock the people of
God as did the bold youths of Bethel who taunted Elisha with
the words, "Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head" (IT
Kings 2 :23)-a daring mockery of Elijah's translation. But two
bears suddenly "came . . . out of the wood, and tare forty and
two children of them" (II Kings 2: 24). (Note: the number 42 is
associated with the tribulation which lasts 42 months. )
Elisha is obviously a type of the Christians who are not translated before the tribulation. Nevertheless, there was resurrection
power in Elisha's bones. After his death a dead man came in contact with his bones, and the man revived and stood upright on his
feet (IT Kings 13:21). Many of the tribulation Christians will die
as martyrs to be gathered in the resurrection harvest.
There is one more important scriptural evidence that pertains
to the subject of the rapture of the Christians-that is the prophecy
of the sun-clothed woman and the Manchild of Revelation 12.
This is a subject of sufficient importance to be considered in the
next chapter.

Types standing alone should not be used to establish doctrine,


but they are contributory evidence. Elijah as a type indicates a
first-fruit rapture. He was taken up to heaven and Elisha was left
behind. "One shall be taken and the other left." On the other
hand, Elisha would appear to be a type of the tribulation Christians.
The translation of Elijah resulted in great excitement and controversy. The sons of the prophets demanded that a search be
instituted for the missing Elijah. They apparently thought it was a
case of supernatural transportation and that the Spirit had merely
snatched Elijah away and deposited him on a mountain somewhere:
"And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy
servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and
seek thy master: lest peradve.nture the Spirit of the Lord hath
taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into
some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. And when they
urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent
therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found
him not" (II Kings 2:16-17) .

Although Elisha permitted them to search for three days, the


sons of the prophets found him not. Using the prophetic scale of a
day for a year, we can see that the three-day search symbolizes
the three years of the Great Tribulation, in which people will be
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19

The interpretation of the symbol of the sun-clothed woman is


a crucial one in understanding prophecy. Some say she represents
Israel. Others say that she represents the church. There is no
doubt that she is a symbol of Israel, but she represents more than
national Israel. The sun-clad woman represents the true church,
the called out ones of all ages, whom Satan ever persecutes in his
effort to destroy her seed. She was the "'church in the wilderness"
when lsrael escaped Pharaoh and fled from Egypt (Acts 7:35).
The sun-clad woman represents the church of all dispensations in
age-long conflict with Satan. This is shown in the fact that the
Great Red Dragon in the symbolism has seven crowns upon his
seven heads, thus indicating the whole period of history. (There
will be altogether seven world-wide Gentile kingdoms during this
age.)
The church and Israel are distinct, yet interwoven together in
God's redemption plan and are more closely related than we
realize. The early church was in fact composed almost entirely of
Jews at its inception. It took on the Gentile aspect only after the
apostle Paul received his commission to minister to the Gentiles.
Paul saw Israel and the church as distinct entities, yet both a
part of the same olive tree (Read Romans 11 :23-25).

Israel and the church flowed together at the beginning of the


church dispensation and diverged only when the Jewish nation
filled to the full her cup of iniquity by rejecting the Holy Spirit
(Acts 7:51) . At the end of the age when Israel's national restoration takes place, the people will accept Him whom they have
pierced, and we shall see a regrafting of Israel into the same olive
tree as the church-although of course the two will still have
distinctive identities and missions.
The sun-clad woman, as she represents God's people at the end
of the age, certainly includes the church.
First, she is a heavenly sign. The church, although on earth,
sits in heavenly places with Christ Jesus: "And hath raised us up
together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ
Jesus" (Eph. 2: 6). She holds this position not without conflict,
for she must wrestle with Satan and his angels which are also in
high places (Eph. 6: 12).
Second, the woman is "clothed with the sun." The sun is a
symbol of Christ who is our righteousness (Mal. 4:2).
Third, the moon is under her feet. This expression shows that
the church is in the heavens as well as on earth. Solomon says.
'Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon,
clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?" (Songs
6: 10). This is a picture of the church clothed with the sun, fair
as the moon, set as an army in a spiritual warfare against the
powers of evil.
She also has a crown of 12 stars. Revelation 1 :20 shows us that
stars symbolize the leaders of the church, as well as those of Israel.
The twelve stars answer to the twelve apostles of the Lamb:
Notice one thing more: The dragon's seven heads, which represent the seven successive world empires, are all crowned. The
woman therefore has been in existence during this entire period.
However, the ten horns are not crowned as we see they will be in
Revelation 13: 1. This shows that in point of time Revelation 12
is just before the Great Tribulation. For in Revelation 13 the ten
horns of the kingdom of the antichrist are crowned, showing that
by then the tribulation has arrived.
Now, we note that the sun-clothed woman is in travail. She
brings forth a Manchild who is to rule the nations with a rod of
iron. While this Manchild does symbolize Christ in a retro-prophetic
way, this is not the primary fulfillment. The prophecy was, in fact.
given over sixty years after Christ ascended to heaven. It just could
not be a prophecy if it referred only to the past. Prophecy refers
to the future.

20

21

CHAPTER IV

The Woman Clothed With The Sun


And The Rapture Of The Manchild
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman
clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon
her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child
cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And
there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great
red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven
crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of
the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the
dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be
delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born"

(Rev. 12:1-4).

I
"And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all
nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto
God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they
should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore
days" (Rev. 12:5,6).

In the light of the above fact, it is obvious that this prophecy


refers primarily to a Manchild Company of overcomers who are to
rule the nations with a rod of iron:
"And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the
end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall
rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall
they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father"
(Rev. 2:26, 27) .
This Manchild Company, it is to be noted, is caught up to
heaven, just before the Great Tribulation begins. The Manchild
cannot be a primary symbol of Christ at this point, for He was
caught up to heaven 1900 years before. The rapture of the Manchild Company at this time is a powerful proof that there is a
first-fruit rapture just before the Great Tribulation.
Notice also that after the Manchild is caught up to the thrQne of
God, the woman undergoes a change of position. Satan now persecutes the woman. She is no longer in the heavenlies but is seen
on earth, exceedingly weakened by the birth of the Manchild.
The tribulation church no longer sits in the heavenlies, but the
Christians, "the remnant of her seed," left on earth contend with
the powers of hell which are now cast into their midst.
The Manchild Company is to be caught up to heaven, and the
rest of the seed of the woman is to be left on earth, fulfilling the
words of Jesus, "the one shall be taken, and the other left."
Satan's persecution of the seed of the woman is accomplished
through the Beast who now comes on the scene. His war is not
only against believing Jews but against the saints of "all nations,
and kind reds, and people and tongues."

CHAPTER V

The Parable Of The Five Wise


And Five Foolish Virgins
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten
virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the
bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil
with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their
lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and
slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the
bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those
virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the toolish said
unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not
enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell,
and buy for yourselves. And while they sent to buy, the
bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with
him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 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" (Matt. 25:1-13).
The Parable of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins is one
that deals directly with Christ as the Bridegroom coming for His
bridal party. Christ depicts the church as ten virgins waiting for
the arrival of the Bridegroom, only half of which will be ready
when the Bridegroom comes.
While some believe the five foolish virgins represent apostate
Christendom, the use of the symbol "virgins" in this manner is
not so found in the Bible. The term "virgins" as a symbol always
has a good connotation, standing for those separated from the
world :
"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have
espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a
chaste virgin to Christ" (II Cor. 11 :2).

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23

Again in Revelation 14 the first-fruits unto God are spoken of


as "virgins."
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for
they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb
whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among
men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb" (Rev.
14:4).

The term "virgins" when used symbolically in the Scriptures


does not refer to the married state but rather to separation from
the world. "Virgins" are those not defiled with the harlot daughters
of Babylon. They have come out from Babylon. Friendship and
conformity with the world is reckoned by the Scriptures as spiritual
adultery:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the
friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James
4:4).

of the Spirit." "'Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame


thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the
Spirit" (II Cor. 5: 5) .
The wise virgins recognized the need of keeping oil in their
vessels. The foolish virgins realized the importance of the lamps,
but they neglected to keep oil in them.
All ten virgins went out to meet the Bridegroom - that is they
were looking for the return of Christ. But there was an unexpected
delay. There have been times when a false cry has been raised
that the rapture was at hand. People have gone into the mountains,
into the deserts; others have even climbed on housetops waiting
for t he Lord to come, only to be disappointed.
We are to teach the imminency of Christ's coming, but as we
have seen imminency does not necessarily mean immediacy. It is
unscriptural to teach that Christ will come at some certain date.
Paul gave a warning against this:
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That
ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by
spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day
of Christ is at hand" (II Thes. 2: 1-2).

We must, therefore, grant that the ten virgins represent the


true believers of the church of Jesus Christ. That is, they are
saved people. They are said to have taken their lamps and have
gone out to meet the Bridegroom. The psalmist says, "Thy word
is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psa. 119: 105).
By means of the light of God's Word, they were able to go forth
and watch for the approach of the Bridegroom.
Since all of the ten are virgins, what then distinguishes the
foolish from the wise? We are told that the foolish failed to take
oil in their vessels with their lamps, while the wise did. Oil in the
Scriptures is a type of the Holy Spirit. The elders are commanded
to anoint the sick with oil. "Is any sick among you? let him call
for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing
him wtih oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5: 14). The oil in
itself has no power to heal but rather signifies the presence of the
Holy Spirit to heal.
It is God's purpose that His Spirit shall flow continually through
and overflow from the innermost beings of His people (John
7:37-38). Our lights can be kept burnin.!!: only when the oil of the
Holy Spirit is being constantly replenished. Neglect can cause the
supply to diminish.
Paul in II Corinthians 4:7 speaks of our bodies as "earthen
vessels" which dissolve after death (II Cor. 5: 1) , and that at the
resurrection "an house not made with hands" will replace it. But
while we are in this world, this "earthen vessel" holds "the earnest

In other words there must be no time-setting for the rapture.


But although there may be unexpected delays, the church must not
become discouraged and allow its devotion to wane. She is to be
ready whether the Bridegroom should come at morning, noon, or
night (Mark 13:35-37).
Finally, as the parable declares, the Bridegroom did come at
the midnight hour, which is the darkest hour of the night. And
surely the world today is plunged into a dark hour indeed.
When the cry came that the Bridegroom was coming, all the
virgins arose, and there was a great lamp-trimming. But, alas, the
foolish virgins discovered that their lamps were going out. They
had failed to take along a supply of oil. The foolish sought to
borrow from the wise, but the latter responded saying that they
had only enough for themselves and admonished the others to go
and buy from those that sell. This shows that we must constantly
replenish the oil in our vessels, and we cannot rely on someone
else's blessing or even our own past blessings to make us ready
for the coming of Christ. (In my visits. to the Mideast, I noticed
that the lamps of the days of Christ, were large enough only to
hold oil for one night.)
But can the Holy Spirit be purchased? Not with mammon, of

24

25

course. Yet no one can say that the Spirit-filled life costs nothing.
It has cost many Christians their very lives. True discipleship may
cost a man all that he has in this world.
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and
mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea,
and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be
my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower,
sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have
sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the
foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it
begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was
not able to finish'" (Luke 14:26-30).

But at this particular hour He bad come as Bridegroom. He could


not recognize them as members of the bridal party.
The whole teaching of the parable is that those who would be
among the first-fruits unto God, those who would be "virgins ...
without fault before the throne of God" must make themselves
ready. These are the ones who will make up the Manchild Company of believers. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, we see the
words of Christ portrayed, "One shall be taken, and the other left."

Christ taught His followers to count the cost. While salvation


and the infilling of the Spirit are free as far as mammon" is concerned, full discipleship demands that we count the cost and be
willing to forsake all, or whatever may be necessary to win Christ:
"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss
for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for
whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count
them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Phil. 3:7, 8).

We are told that while the foolish virgins went to buy oil "the
door was shut." What does this mean? Revelation 4:1 speaks of
"a door was opened in heaven" and John was caught up into the
throne room. The "open door" signifies rapture. When a door is
opened in heaven, those who are ready may pass through. When
it is closed, none may enter. This is what happened in the case
of the foolish virgins.
There is no doubt that when the rapture takes place, it will
result in the greatest soul-searching the church has ever known. The
day of '"'playing church" will be over, and there will be a tremendous overhauling of Christian experience. People will urgently seek
God and the infilling of the Spirit which apparently will be still
available until the beginning of the Day of the Lord (Acts 2:1621 ) . But it will be too late to participate in the first -fruit rapture.
So the Lord had to say to the foolish virgins, "I know you not."
He did not say as He said to the hypocrites. " I never knew you:
depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:23). He did not
call the virgins "workers of iniquity," neither did He say, "'I never
knew you." His words are in the present tense, "I know you not."
He indeed knew them as believers who accepted Him as Saviour.
26

27

who "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Of course when


the whole world is considered, the number might be a sizeable one.
CHAPTER VI

What Will Be The Effect Of


The Rapture On The World?
It is not too difficult to imagine what happens on earth when
the Manchild Company is taken out. Seiss gives an excellent
picture of the result:
"The birth of the Manchild into immortality takes out of
the world the best material in it. Being made up of the truest
and most devoted of God's saints, and being caught away to
God, and to His throne, the earth is left minus the presence,
prayers and activities, and moral forces of its holiest population. The removal of these faithful ones to their Lord is such
a diminution of the salt of the earth . . . to give the field
almost entirely to the devil and his angels ... Hence, while
heaven thrills with rejoicing over his defeat there, his ejectment to earth coming with the song of triumph, there is a sad
note of woe and pity for dwellers there. 'Woe to the earth
and the sea! because the devil is come down unto you, having
great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short
time.'"

What will happen on earth after this supernatural event of the


rapture takes place? One thing to consider is that if the first-fruit
harvest is a comparatively small number of people in comparison
to the world's population, the effect will not be the same as will
be the tribulation rapture when much larger numbers are removed.
Certainly the first-fruit rapture will be different from that which
is often portrayed-that great masses of nominal Christians will
suddenly be taken from the earth. Indeed, we are inclined to
believe that the picture has been vastly overdrawn-many planes
without pilots going into screaming nose-dives; locomotives without engineers wildly pursuing their courses .to head-on collisions;
great numbers of people suddenly vanishing from public gatherings,
etc.
The indication is that the first-fruit rapture includes what the
name implies-a comparatively small group of overcomers- those

28

THE EFFECT OF THE RAPTURE ON THE


NOMINAL CHRISTIANS
One thing is certain: Life will have to go on and people will
adjust themselves to the mystery or ratiOnalize the event to suit
their particular way of thinking. A sin-hardened heart is not suddenly brought to repentance by prodigies or wonders. Jesus, in
relating Abraham's conversation with the rich man in hades, tells
of Dives' request that Lazarus be sent to his father's house to warn
his brethren against coming to that place. Abraham replied, " If
they bear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31).
Some, no doubt, will be filled with remorse when they realize
that they have missed the prize. Others will be hardened. The
Scriptures are not without evidence concerning the events which
follow the rapture. Here are some considerations on the subject:
1. What will be the effect of the rapture on nominal Christians?
In the days of Elijah, the sons of the prophets had a premonition
that the prophet would be translated (II Kings 2:5 ) . Yet when
the event occurred, they were not ready to believe that it bad
taken place. They were not convinced that Elijah bad gone all the
way to heaven. Like Obadiah, they thought that the prophet probably had been transported to another place (I Kings 18: 12) .
Despite Elisha's protestations, they insisted on a three-day search
(II Kings 2: 16). Of course they did not find Elijah.
(Do not those "three days" foreshadow or speak of the three
years of the Great Tribulation?) Certainly there will be many who
will rationalize the strange disappearance of God's people in a way
that will be in harmony with what they want to believe. Then too,
if we have instances of supernatural transportation as was the case
of Philip, people may be inclined to believe that the raptured
Christians have been merely transported to another place, as the
sons of the prophets supposed concerning Elijah.
2. With others, however, the event will result in a heartbreaking
confession. Too late they will realize that they have neglected the
repeated warnings of the Lord Jesus Christ to be ready for His
Coming. "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor hour
wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 25: 13 ). This warning
was given at the conclusion of the Parable of the Five Wise and
Five Foolish Virgins, in which Jesus plainly showed that a substan-

29

tial part of professing Christians who will be waiting for the Bridegroom will not be ready when He comes. '"'And they that were
ready went in with him to the marriage" (Verse 10). Again
Jesus said, "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 : 36) . With
many, after the rapture, there will come the bitter realization that
they have failed to be among the five wise virgins that were ready,
and there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Though they
then resolve to resist the antichrist at all costs, they must live in
the realization that they have missed the prize.
3. Yet, it is likely that much of the sobering effect of the rapture
will be neutralized by preternatural happenings associated with
the antichrist. The devil will have his superman, the son of perdition, on the scene. "Even him, whose coming is after the working
of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (II Thes.
2:9). These lying wonders will astonish the world. Apparently
there will be some kind of pseudo-resurrection of the Beast. We
are told that the Beast was "as it were wounded to death; and his
deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the
beast" (Rev. 13:3). This lying miracle, a wound unto death, and
the demonstration of the Beast's return to life will be of a nature
to astonish and to amaze the world, whatever the miracle is. As
Satan moved in the days of Moses through the magicians to mimic
the miracles of God, so we may be sure that Satan has plans to
confuse people, so that the effect of the rapture will be neutralized
as much as is possible.

THE EFFECT OF ELIJAH'S TRANSLATION ON THE


RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY OF BETHEL
If the sons of the prophets were not sure that Elijah had been
translated, it is not surprising to discover that the apostate worshippers at Bethel took no stock in it.
Bethel was a religious city, noted for its traditions of the past.
At Bethel, Jacob, father of Israel, had witnessed a vision of a ladder extending from earth to heaven. Jacob had been so moved by
that experience that he called the place Bethel, "the house of God."
In later centuries it was the site of a school of the prophets. Notwithstanding its religious past as the place where Jacob met with
God, Bethel had become a seat of apostate religion. There Jero~
boam had set up the worship of a golden calf. From that time on,
Bethel was a center of idolatrous worship.

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Elisha had thought to go up to Bethel. Perhaps he anticipated


that the people of that city would gladly listen to his thrilling
account of the translation of Elijah. If so, he was to be doomed to
disappointment. Elijah had been at cross-purposes with these apostate idol-worshippers, and they were no friends of his. Bethelites
were in no mood to put stock in anything that Elisha might have
to tell.
When news that Elisha was coming to Bethel got around, fortytwo youths of the city in a fit of blasphemous daring, decided to
go out and have sport with the prophet of God. The King James
Version calls them "little children," but the Hebrew idiom indicates the probability that they were from fifteen to eighteen years
of age. This wicked group of juveniles, rushing up to mock the
man of God, burst into profane jesting and abuse. It had not
escaped their attention that the prophet was bald, and they made
this the butt of coarse jokes. Not satisfied with this, they added
blasphemy to their insults. Did Elisha claim Elijah had gone to
heaven? Well, well! Why then did not Elisha go up also? "Go up
thou baldhead. Go up thou baldhead," they taunted him. Thus in
their mockery, they demanded that Elisha ascend to heaven too.
All this is a sobering matter. The Christians who remain on
earth during the Great Tribulation may expect some such kind of
persecution. And in their case, alas, they are forced to admit that
they were at fault in not being ready. It will not be easy for them
to meet the taunts of the wicked or to be asked why they were
left behind.
Elisha was shocked by what was happening. Was it possible
that anyone would be so daring as to ridicule or trifle about the
mighty Divine manifestation that had just taken place? Suddenly
the Spirit of God came upon the prophet. Outraged Deity speaking through Elisha's lips pronounced a curse upon these wicked
youths. Elisha's curse probably evoked a more ribald laughter and
jesting. But retribution was at hand. Two ferocious she-bears appeared from out of the woods and made their way to the band ot
youths. With bloodcurdling screams of terror, these young blasphemers began to go down before the clawing beasts. The jesting
and blasphemy were over, and the terror-stricken group fled in
mad retreat toward the protection of Bethel. But, alas, the "house
of God," is no- protection for the profane and irreverent. Though
in wild haste they tried to escape, the fierce beasts were hard
behind in relentless pursuit and one by one they overtook the
youths to leave them tom, bleeding, and dying. We can imagine
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that those who observed the fearsome scene from a distance,


dashed panic-stricken into the town to carry the dreadful news of
the Divine retribution that had come upon the mockers.
Will it not be similar in the days of the Great Tribulation? The
wicked will not be inc1in~d to take such events solemnly, but will
mock and scorn those who do. Now as two ferocious bears
brought judgment on the wicked in that day, so the two beasts of
Revelation shall arise in the Great Tribulation to "tear" the earth
for 42 months. These beasts at Bethel were bears. The Beast of
Revelation 13 had the "feet of a bear." The communist beast that
today threatens the world is symbolized by a "bear"-the only
nation in the world so represented.

CHAPTER VII

Some Questions Answered About


The Pre-Tribulation Rapture
It is sometimes said that I Thessalonians 4 : 13-17 indicates that
.the rapture and first resurrection all occur at one instant and that
there is no place for partial raptures and resurrections.
To this we can only say that the facts indicate otherwise. In the
first place there has already taken place a partial Old Testament
resurrection (Matt. 27:51-52). If that resurrection is not part of
the first resurrection, then of whic~ one is it?
That the text, I Thes. 4: 13-17 indicates that all events of the
first resurrection must take place at one instant is not consistent
with good Bible exegesis. For example, note John 5:28-29 :
"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."

These verses might just as well be taken to indicate that the


resurrection of the righteous and the wicked dead takes place at
the same hour, and some indeed actually so teach it. But Revelation 20 :5 makes it clear that 1000 years elapse between the two
resurrections.
Moreover, Paul definitely speaks of an order to the resurrection
(I Cor. 15:23) . If it all occurs at one instant, there would be no
order to it. He said the first-fruits come first, then afterward
those that are His at His coming. And Paul himself declares that
he is striving to have a part in the out-resurrection.
BUT WOULD NOT A FIRST-FRUIT RAPTURE
DIVIDE THE BODY OF CHRIST?
It has also been said that if there is a partial rapture which
takes place before the final harvest, the church or Body of Christ
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will be divided; some will be on earth and some in heaven, and


that this cannot be true, since there is only one body.
A little reflection, however, will show that this objection is not
valid. All through the age, some believers have been dying and
going to paradise, while others still remain on earth. This is true
at this present moment. A difference in geographical location,
therefore, cannot divide the body of Christ. Nor does the unity of
the body imply that varied positions of rank and reward will not
be given to the different members. Indeed, we know that some
believers will have no reward at all.
One more thought, while on this subject. As all agree, Christ is
the Head of the church and the most important member of the
mystical body. Yet He ascended to heaven over 1900 years ago.
It must be conceded that this ascension to heaven did not divide
the body of Christ; neither will the rapture of the first-fruits do so.
CAN THE CHURCH BE SYMBOLIZED BY A WOMAN
WITH CHILD?
It is sometimes objected that the sun-clad woman who gives
birth to the Manchild could not represent the church, since a
married woman is never used to symbolize the church; therefore,
the figure of a travailing woman cannot represent the church.
In answer, may we note that this symbol of the sign woman is
not used of the New Testament church solely, but of the church
of all ages. Nevertheless, those who regard the New Testament
church as not having the office of spiritual -maternity are mistaken.
John, the writer of the Book of Revelation speaks of the church
as "the elect lady and her children" (II John 1: 1).
The duty and responsibility of the church in every age has
involved travail for spiritual children. The apostle Paul, who stands
first in the bringing forth of the Gentile church speaks to the
Galatians who were not showing the fruits of true believers saying, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until
Christ be formed in you" (Gal. 4: 19) .
Paul shows that the church is not as Israel under the law "but
Jerusalem. which is above is free, which is the mother of us all"
(Gal. 4:26). The apostle then goes on to say that the barren
beareth more than she which hath an husband!
"For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not;
break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate
hath many more children than she which hath an husband"
(Gal. 4 :27).

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It is obvious that Paul is not trying to show that the church is


married, but rather that she is bearing more children than she
which hath an husband. These are spiritual children, of course, and
the travail is in the Spirit. In the case of the sun-clothed woman,
physical birth is not implied but rather birth to a higher sphere
of a company of true overcomers.

WHY ARE THE FIRST-FRUITS TAKEN BEFORE


THE GREAT TRIBULATION?
The above question is, we believe, one of the most serious import
to every believer. Its answer should have the effect of causing us
to consecrate our lives to Christ as we never have before.
Is being in the first-fruits company a reward? In one sense,
being so included can be considered a reward. Christ said, "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 : 3 6) . The promise to the
Philadelphia church that it would be kept "from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try them .that dwell
upon the earth" teaches the same thing. Indeed the promise is
associated with receiving a "crown" (Rev. 3: 11).
Nonetheless, the popular view that the raptured Christians are
taken to heaven merely to escape the trials of the Great Tribula-'
tion altogether misses the point. Those of the Smyrna church, for
example, who suffered bloody persecution during the days of pagan
Rome did not consider their sufferings as punishment. Indeed,
they were Christ's martyr saints. The Lord knew their "tribulation
and poverty" and told them that they were rich. Christ encouraged
them to be faithful unto death, promising them that "I will give
thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:9-10). Indeed there are those today
who have suffered greatly in communist countries, who might be
excused for supposing that they are already in the Great Tribulation.
1. But there is a circumstance associated with the first rapture that has been largely overlooked. It is highly probable that
those who participate in the first-fruit company will be given
responsibilities of such a high level that they will need special
training. To a large extent the scenes and activities in paradise have
been withheld from us. Paul apparently saw things in paradise that
were amazing, but of which he was not oermitted to speak lest it
would lead to endless speculation on the part of earth-dwellers.
Nevertheless, we may well assume that in the next life men con35

tinue to learn and prepare themselves for activities in the ages to


come. Despite the fact that most of these things have been withheld from us, enough has been revealed to show us that the believers in relation to the position they have won will be given
responsibilities of an ascending order.
For example, we know that the believers are going to judge the
world. Paul says, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the
world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy
to judge the smallest matters?" (I Cor. 6:2).
This judgment committed to the Christians is clearly shown in
Psalms 149:5-9:
"Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon
their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and
a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon
the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their
kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron: To
execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have
all his saints. Praise ye the Lord."
2. Notice the first-fruits company that is on Mt. Zion. They
follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Wherever Christ goes,
they go. His task becomes their task. They participate in His secret
counsels. There are many duties to be carried out on a high level.
Observe the varied activities of the twenty-four elders. First of
all, they join in the great worship scene (Rev. 4:9-11; 5:8- 10).
They cast the1r crowns before the throne; they sing and play on
harps of gold; they are custodians of the vials of the prayers of
the saints in preparation for their offering to God (Rev. 5:8).
They act in a priestly capacity. They explain certain mysteries
to John (Rev. 5:5; 7 : 13-14) . They are present before the company of the 144,000 on Mt. Zion (Rev. 14:3) .
John, himself, is kept busy in various ways. Though he is
recorder of the Book of Revelation, in addition he is given the
task of measuring the temple of God and those that worship therein (Rev. 11:1-2). As an official representative of the church, his
act typifies how the believers will measure the inhabitants of the
earth with the rod of judgment.
3. We are told that the Manchild Company will "rule all nations
with a rod of iron" (Rev. I 2:5). With such a task before them,
there is good reason why they should experience prior rapture to
heaven, so that they may be ready for their great work. Christ is
the head of the Manchild Company, which will rule the nations;
but He will have many rulers under Him in carrying out this
responsibility.
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4. But probably of the most immediate importance, the Manchild Company will participate in the displacement of Satan and
his angels from the heavenlies. It is at the time that the Manchild
Company is caught up to heaven that the great final battle in the
heavenlies will begin. Michael and his angels will fight the dragon.
But they will not accomplish the task alone. The Christians will
participate in this historic event:

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and


by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives
unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that
dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the
sea for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath,
because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Rev.
12:11-12).

In reading this passage we see that together with the blood of


Christ and the power of the angelic host, the word of the overcomer's testimony is required. There is a moral conflict as well as
a physical conflict. We who live on earth are not able to comprehend fully this great conflict in the heavenlies. But praying believers know something of the reality of it. Daniel knew the meaning of the conflict when he wrestled for twenty-one days against
the prince of Persia. Paul tells us that "we wrestle not against
flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness
in high (heavenly) places." It is the Christians who have learned
to battle Satan in the heavenlies, in their prayer life, who will be
useful in that great final battle that is to come, just before the
Great Tribulation begins.
Yes, the Christians who are in the first-fruit rapture will have
tasks allotted them. They are invaluable to Christ in assisting Him
in displacing Satan from the heavenlies. Far from taking repose in
the happy realms of paradise, the first-fruits are with Christ in the
beat of the conflict. Saints who are not yet resurrected may indeed
rest from their labors. But while they rest Christ and His first-fruit
company will round up the forces of evil and bring to naught the
armies of the Beast. Christ will judge the nations, but He chooses
to do it with the help of His chosen vessels.
And thus do we see the reason for which Christ will rapture
those who are the first-fruits unto God and who will follow Him
whithersoever He goeth.

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