Thursday, May 25, 2017
Understanding Prophecy III
One of the most polarizing doctrines in prophecy is that of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Like other doctrinal disagreements, the conflict arises as a result of a failure to use basic Bible study procedures. The Pre-Trib position is that the Antichrist cannot assume power until the Holy Spirit is taken out of the world. Since the Holy Spirit is in every Christian, that means the Christians must be raptured out before the Tribulation can start. They use II Thessalonians 2:6-7 to prove their point, insisting it refers to the Holy Spirit. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” This has led to many believing that no one will be saved during the Tribulation, while others realizing that Revelation 7:14 spoke of people being saved during it have concluded that they are saved during that period in a special way that does not require the Holy Spirit’s working.
Unfortunately the interpretation of II Thessalonians 2:6-7 as referring to the Holy spirit overlooks the principle in II Peter 1:20, “…that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation,” that no scripture can be interpreted by itself, but must be compared to other scriptures. In nearly fifty years of study, I have not found any other scriptures that support the idea that it is Holy Spirit who restrains Satan from taking over the world. Instead, I found that Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21, Daniel 12:1, and Revelation 12:7 indicate that it is Michael, the archangel who stands against and restrains Satan. This leaves the Pre-Trib position without scriptural basis, but does not prove it is wrong.
In order to see if it is true or not we will start by reading II Thessalonians 2:1-10 more carefully. “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 called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 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, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
II Thessalonians 2:1-5 clearly states that the Christians will not be gathered together with Christ, or Raptured, until after the Antichrist is revealed. While the Tribulation will last 7 years, Daniel 11:15-21 indicates the Antichrist will not come to power until about three and a half years into it. Revelation 13:4-5 tells us the Antichrist will only be in power three and a half years. “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” Other passages refer to his reign as lasting a time, times and half a time, or one thousand two hundred ninety days. This would make it impossible for the rapture to come before the Tribulation starts.
This fits exactly with what Jesus said in Matthew 24:29-31. “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.” Revelation 14 indicates a similar picture with the rapture occurring somewhat later, and the sequence of events described in Revelation 19 paints a similar picture.