Friday, July 25, 2014

Why Pre-Trib and Pre-Wrath both fail

I was not quite as decided on this as I am now when I wrote the first draft of what's below.

I used to be firmly in what is called the Post-Trib camp. (Even though unlike many Post-Tribbers I've always been completely against Replacement Theology.)  And certainly never liked the Pre-Trib argument.  What Chuck Missler explains about the uniqueness of the Church alters my perspective however.  Once you understand that not all saved are part of The Church then the references to believers on the Earth during the Tribulation no longer inherently contradicts the Pre-Trib view. Chuck also seems certain that if you're not Pre-Trib on the Rapture your problem is Ecclesiology not Eschatology. Well I am the same as Chuck on Ecclesiology, yet I still have issues with the Pre-Trib view. I'm still not sold on the Pre-Trib argument, however rather then being firmly Post-Trib I'm now leaning towards a Mid-Trib, I had also considered the Pre-Wrath view.

First off, the Pre-Trib camp seems to consider Imminence their cornerstone argument. Verses where the Bible tells us to "Expect" The Return of Jesus at any moment.  Problem is the intent of those verses aren't about chronology, their about the attitude believers should take and how we should behave.  Pre-Tribbers insist it means that the Rapture must be the absolute next thing to happen Chronologically, even though plenty of Prophecies have already been fulfilled while we've been waiting (Israel Restored, the first portion of Isaiah 19 ect.) Now it's the Gog&Magog invasion that can't possibly occur until after the Rapture. But logically before 1948 they'd have had to say the same thing about Israel being reestablished. Then till 67 them reclaiming all of Jerusalem.

When my Dad first starting teaching me how to use a gun, he told me before even letting me touch it to always treat it like it's loaded, even when I know for certain it is not. The point of that instruction is to make sure I'm always very very very careful with it, which is a very smart approach to take. But it doesn't change the fact that an unloaded gun still needs to be loaded before you can actually shoot something with it.

The Bible verses that imply Imminence are there to tell us to behave like he can return at any moment, to before committing any Sin think "Is that what I want to be doing in the middle of when Jesus comes back?" and to motivate us to work tirelessly in spreading the Gospel and doing God's work by acting like we could run out of time at any time. After all, in a sense it does happen for you immediately when you die. But the fact remains that there are at least two Bible passages that make it clear the Rapture won't occur at least until after the "Abomination of Desolation".

Matthew 24's account of the Olivet Discourse reaches the "Abomination of Desolation" in verse 15. Then it goes on describing more End Times drama in very broad terms until verses 29-31 when Jesus (And Pre-Tribbers tend to ignore this) explicitly says

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.
This is clearly the same event described in 1 Thessalonians 4, and clearly described as AFTER a tribulation. And also in this narrative it seems to be clearly after the "Abomination of Desolation".  It has the coming in the clouds, the gathering, the Trumpet being sounded.  Some may consider that the Resurrection is mentioned disproved this being the same event.  Well 1 Corinthians 15:52 doesn't mention the gathering or the coming in the clouds, only the Trumpet and the Resurrection and the living in Christ being changed.

I should add that the term "elect" contrary to Calvinist assumptions is not always a synonym for the saved, in many places it seems to refer rather to Israel. Doug Hamp has written a book on that subject and been interviews about it on "Prophecy in The news". Both he and Gary are of course Pre-Trib, and they'd probably respond that this part of the Olivet Discourse isn't about The Rapture because it refers to the Elect. But regardless of what that one word strictly means, this passage still clearly uses a lot of common imagery with 1 Thessalonians 4, the Trumpet, the Clouds ect and so on.

The word Elect can refer to more then one thing, it's simply a word meaning "chosen". When Jesus returns on a White Horse at the end of the 70th week Israel will not be gathered to him, he'll be going to where Israel is in hiding.   Israel and The Church are both his "Elect" in different senses, we both have the opportunity to be part of very special covenants that not all of the Saved have the opportunity to be part of. With neither meaning would I consider how the Calvanist co-opt the word to fit their version of "predestination" valid.

The only other argument I've seen Pre-Tribbers try to prove this isn't the same as 1 Thessalonians 4 is that Jesus refers to sending many Angels, while Paul refers to the voice "The Archangel".  First of all it is perfectly consistent to say that many Angels gather while one Archangel is shouting.  Second the Greek text in Thessalonians is "Archangelon" which is technically plural.  So I feel that back up a Seventh Trumpet view, which refers to many voices in Heaven.

Pre-Wrathers and Post-Tribbers may feel Mathew 24 favors their model over Mid-Trib because a lot seems to happen between the Abomination and the Gathering.  It may seem like a lot happens, but it's all described pretty broadly, and sometimes a lot can happen in very little time.  To me this could all fit easily into the three and a half days the Two Witnesses are dead.

2nd Thessalonians Chapter 2.

First, many take the language of "By letter as from us" in verse 2 as referring to a letter falsely attributed to Paul. It is not, he's referring to people misunderstanding or outright misusing what he said in 1st Thessalonians Chapter 4. He certainly is referring to that exact same event when he says "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him". Now he goes on to explain in no uncertain terms.

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 called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
I put "and" in bold, because some Pre-Tribbers like to insist only the first of these two things has to happen first.

The Pre-Trib camp likes to make this fit their view by insisting the "Restrainer" mentioned latter is The Holy Spirit. Even if it where, that doesn't undermine the clear chronological implication that Paul is unambiguously saying that the Gathering Together will NOT happen till AFTER the "Man of Sins" is revealed. Yet so many Pre-Tribbers insist the Church will never encounter that individual. That's part of the danger of the Pre-Trib view to me, The Bible gives us all these clues about his identity for a reason, the Church should be using them, not just insisting "We'll never meet him anyway".

Now, let's get into this "Restrainer" verse, first of all the KJV rendering in verse 7 is.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
There could possibly be translational issues with the phrase rendered "taken out of the way" but that's incidental.

It's "He who now letteth" is who is commonly called here the "Restrainer" Restrain is what the Greek word translated "letteth" actually means. The previous verse uses the same word in a different form and the KJV translated it "Withholdeth". In verse 6 it's a present tense verb, there it should be "restraining" and in verse 7 "letteth now let" should be "restrains will continue to do so".

The use of "he" in verse 7 is added by the translators, they're not in the Greek. It is "what" not "who" that identifies the restrainer in verse 6. Chuck Missler insists it's "what" only because it's Gender neutral. The Holy Spirit is never described with Gender Neutral pronouns, poetically he's feminine more often, but is also frequently masculine. However he never lacks gender. It could very well be an object not a personage.

Job makes clear God does restrain Satan, and many verses describe God as restraining Sin, and those verses get cited to prove this verse is referring to The Holy Spirit, but none of those other verses about restraint affiliate it with a specific person of The Trinity.

The Pre-Wrath camp believes The Restrainer is Michael. I agree with them that Daniel 12:1 and Revelation 12:7 correspond. But to define him taking an offensive against Satan as ceasing to restrain something is silly to me.

Revelation 20 says

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth
Being locked in The Abyss is what will restrain Satan during the Millennium. Right now Satan isn't restrained, but something else is which Paul alludes to. That removal of Restraint is in Revelation 9, when The Abyss is first opened.

I believe that the restrainer being removed refers to when the Abyss is opened in Revelation 9. I believe it's the lock keeping the Abyss sealed and the entities inside chained. Note, the word translated "perdition" in "Son of Predition" is Apolyea, a Greek word related to Apollyon, Apollyon is just the proper noun form. He is being restrained because he's in the Abyss, the removal of that restraint is what happens when the 5th trumpet is sounded.

Some I know object to viewing Apollyon as an evil entity however. But that's incidental, my view does not require viewing either the First or Second beast as being a specific personage in Revelation 9. The fact simply remains that The Abyss is unlocked and things restrained there are set free.

Revelation 11:7 and 17:8 both refer to " the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit". The death nail of the Pre-Wrath view (which places all the Trumpets after the Abomination of Desolation) is that no damned personage can ascendeth out of the abyss before it's unlocked.

I believe this is an idiom of The Beast's resurrection, when his mortal wound is healed. In 17:8 it's followed by "and goeth into perdition". The Beast and The False Prophet are in Revelation 19 cast alive into the Lake of Fire without apparently being killed first. I believe this implies that their early partakers of the Second Resurrection. Their also the first two personages sent there. No one else goes there till after The Millennium.

So I think it's possible both ascend out of The Abyss. I have studies that deal more with that.

Another problem Revelation 9 has for the Pre-Wrath view is verse 20. " that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:" The idols being worshiped as this time don't move or walk or hear. The lifelike Image of The Beast from Revelation 13 clearly has not been set up yet.

So to me, both these passages are insurmountable obstacles for the Pre-Trib view, and Pre-Wrath also. But I am very open to Mid-Trib/Seventh Trumpet.

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