Eschatology rapture

Published on November 8th, 2012 | by Gary DeMar

13

You’re Not Getting Raptured Out of Here. Deal With It.

Because American Vision is a worldview ministry, we address issues that are broader in scope than most ministries. As a result, we take issue with a number of topics that many Christians hold dear. My discussion of eschatology gets the attention of many who first land on American Vision’s site. Some of them are shocked that I hold a position on prophecy that is not in the mainstream. Of course, the mainstream today was thought to be heresy when it was first proposed in the first quarter of the 19th century. Since then, dispensational premillennialism has been questioned by historic premillennialists, amillennialists, postmillennialists, and even those within the dispensational camp, namely progressive dispensationalists and “pre-wrath rapture” advocates. While neither progressive dispensationalism nor the pre-wrath position have garnered a large following, they are indicators that dispensationalism is in trouble. Because so many people believe that dispensationalism is basically true, they believe that competing systems must stay within the general parameters of dispensationalism to be considered orthodox. The issue becomes the timing of the rapture and the role Israel plays in end-time prophecy. The pre-wrath position has become a safe prophetic landing spot for many Christians, as this email to American Vision demonstrates: [product id="1245" align="right" size="small"]

I think very highly of the men involved with your ministry but I also think very highly of the men of God around me that teach the “Pre-Wrath” view (they used Marvin Rosenthal’s book to explain the view). I took a course in it about 7 or 8 years ago and I am currently re-reading it. I am very convinced of these truths but it always amazes me when strong Christian leaders disagree. So, I am open to looking at your view as well.

My deep concern for this topic is stemming from what I see going on in our nation and I have four children that need to be prepared for whatever is coming. I feel like, if I can get a better grasp on what’s coming, then I can better prepare them. I guess, either way, my goal is still 2 Peter 3:11–12 but any assistance you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your ministry and please keep it going. You are blessing to our family and many other families we know. I look forward to your response.

Marvin Rosenthal formally named and publicized the pre-wrath Bible prophecy position in 1990 with the publication of his book The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, published by Thomas Nelson. He was a committed dispensationalist for many years. He rejected the position when after his own personal study he could not find support for the pre-trib rapture view. Rosenthal turned to John Walvoord to find clear biblical support for the position. Walvoord’s The Rapture Question includes a list of fifty arguments in support of a pre-trib belief. Rosenthal was shocked when after reading the list that there was no biblical text that explicitly supported the doctrine. Rosenthal could come to only one conclusion:

Not once, among fifty arguments, does this godly Christian leader cite one biblical text that explicitly teaches pretribulation rapturism—not once. This was not an oversight. The reason for the omission of any pretribulation Rapture texts is clear. There are none. Walvoord’s own comment helps substantiate that fact. He wrote, “It is therefore not too much to say that the Rapture question is determined more by ecclesiology [the doctrine of the Church] than eschatology [the doctrine of the last things].” In other words, he is saying that verses which deal with the church must be used to prove an issue that relates to the prophecy. There simply is no explicit exegetical evidence for pretribulation rapturism.(1)

As Rosenthal came to find out, there is not one explicit verse to support a position that millions of Bible-believing Christians hold with unbending devotion. In fact, none of the five rapture positions has any biblical support because they fail to account for the timing of prophetic events. [product id="31" align="left" size="small"]

The Pre-wrath position makes the same mistake as the dispensationalists by separating the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:24–27 from the first 69 weeks when nothing is said about such a separation, gap, or parenthesis in the passage. Daniel is told that “70 weeks are decreed” (9:24). This is a mistranslation. “The student of the Hebrew text will note that the masculine plural [70 weeks] is here construed with a verb in the singular (is decreed). The seventy heptades are conceived as a unit, a round number, and are most naturally understood as so many sevens of years.”(2) There 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week. There is no gap between the 7 and 62 weeks, so why is there a gap between the 69th (7 +62) and the 70th week? Earlier in Daniel 9, we learn that Daniel is reading Jeremiah’s prophecy: “[I]n the first year of the reign of [Darius the son of Ahasuerus], I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years” (9:2). The 70 years of captivity is the key that unlocks the 70 weeks of years. Daniel was referring to what we know today as Jeremiah 29:10: “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.’”

The 70 years of captivity lasted 70 years! What if God had postponed the 70th year of release from captivity by nearly 2000 years but didn’t count the 2000 years in the overall calculation? This would mean that 70 years wasn’t really 70 years but was in the neighborhood of 2070 years. But this is exactly what dispensationalists and “pre-wrathers” claim is happening in Daniel 9:24–27. They only differ on when the “rapture” takes place. Pre-tribbers place the rapture before (pre) the tribulation period of seven years (Daniel’s 70th week of years), while pre-wrath advocates place the rapture just prior to God pouring out His wrath during the seven-year tribulation period. Both positions claim that the 70th year of Daniel’s 70 weeks of years (490 years total) has been postponed contrary to any explicit statement in Daniel 9:24–27 of that fact. “Exactly 70 weeks in all are to elapse; and how can anyone imagine that there is an interval between the 69 and the 1, when these together make up the 70?”(3) Pre-wrath advocates follow the same type of postponement logic. Their main disagreement with dispensationalism is when the “rapture of the church” takes place. The notion of a “rapture” is based on the unproven assumption that the 70th week has been pushed off into the distant future by a gap of nearly 2000 years to date. Until the “gap” assertion is proven, there is no basis for a “rapture,” either pre, mid, or post-tribulational, partial, or pre-wrath. Until the “gap” idea is proven, the pre-wrath position has the same inherent problems as dispensationalism.

Endnotes:

  1. Marvin Rosenthal, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church: A New Understanding of the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1990), 280.()
  2. Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, [1898] 1988), 201.()
  3. E. W. Hengstenberg, The Christology of the Old Testament, and a Commentary on the Predictions of the Messiah by the Prophets, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: William M. Morrison, 1839), 3:143.()
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About the Author

Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, His most recent book is Exposing the Real Last Days Scoffers. Gary lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).



13 Responses to You’re Not Getting Raptured Out of Here. Deal With It.

  1. The Whyman says:

    Furthermore, knocking down strawmen may be fun but it’s still falliacious:

    “Question: When people hear about dispensationalism, they think of the end times. Is dispensationalism mainly an end-times worldview?

    Question: If someone searches dispensationalism on the internet, they will find a host of attacks against it. Is it really a sound theological set of principles?

    Question: How do you spot a dispensationalist? Question: What is the opposite of dispensatinoalism?

    Question: Does dispensationalism hold to seven dispensations through time?

    Question: As it relates to the plan of salvation, is there any difference between a dispensationalist and a covenant theologian?

    Question: Are most churches dispensational or covenant?

    Question: Clearly covenant, even if they are not as strong on the Calvinist salvation doctrine.

    Question: I would guess that 80% or more of Pastors are covenant in theology.

    Question: Does dispensational theology guarantee orthodox theology?”

    http://www.worldviewweekend.com/radio/audio/brannon-howse-aired-february-26-2013

  2. The Whyman says:

    All Christians will be ‘caught up’/raptured whether you believe it or not- “Deal With It”:

    http://www.thewhyman.jesusanswers.com/custom4_1.html

  3. Phil Spry says:

    I think it was Spurgeon who is credited with having said, “If it’s true, it’s not new, and if it’s new it’s not true.” Pre-tribulationalism was not discovered by the best minds of the Reformation, the ante-Nicene Fathers, the great minds of the Roman Catholic period, the post Reformation teachers or anyone else until McDonald/Darby/Scofield hatched it up recently. If you argue that the Holy Spirit deliberately allowed the church to be deceived for the first 1800+ years of its existence and is now revealing the rapture… what else do we now believe that upon further illumination will be overturned at some point in the future? Seems to me if Luther and Calvin didn’t spot it, it’s just not there. With the possible exception of Pseudo-Ephraem (look it up) there is not a written sentence in all of church history indicating a pre trib event. I first heard the pre-trib position in the 1960s (yes, I’m an old geezer). But when I first started preaching (’74) I had to admit that it just wasn’t there. I have spent hours speaking with Robert Gundry and Marv Rosenthal. Gundry makes the best case, especially in dealing with Pseudo-Ephraem. When challenged with the 1990 timing of his pre-wrath position Marv’s answer was pretty thin. I think Spurgeon is still right. To all you fellows who have commented here… many thanks. I was stimulated by your scholarship and passion. Well done.
    Phil Spry
    Clayton, NC
    2/22/13

  4. Ned says:

    Great blog. You all might like to visit Google and type in “Pretrib Rapture Pride” which says a mouthful, for sure! Lord bless.

  5. toby says:

    Gary, I find it hard to believe you just wrote what you did. You wrote,

    “The Pre-wrath position makes the same mistake as the dispensationalists by separating the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:24–27 from the first 69 weeks when nothing is said about such a separation, gap, or parenthesis in the passage.

    Nothing is said? This is flat out false. Something most definitely is said.

    Is not the starting point given as the command to rebuild Jerusalem? It then breaks down the first seven sevens and the next sixty-two sevens as distinct sections, especially from the last seven. This 69 sevens ends with the Messiah being cut off and Jerusalem getting destroyed. We know there were almost 40 years between these last two markers. The passage then states what starts the last seven years and what happens at the mid point, the Abomination of Desolation.

    The reason people make a separation between the first 69 sevens and the last seven is because that is what the Scripture clearly states. How can you build a case from basically a collective noun as to whether something is singular or plural – a very weak argument – and ignore all the plain detail given? How can you claim there is no data when there is lots of very specific data?

    Basic rules of hermeneutics state the more clear interprets the less clear. All the data given about what starts and stops the different sections definitely qualifies as what is more clear. This is not even a hard question to solve. You have a M.Div, have written over twenty books, and are making this elementary mistake? I am shocked.

    There are so many other reasons to support the division of the 70th sevens into two parts. Paul clearly thought the Abomination of Desolation was still future when he wrote II Thessalonians 2. That was quite a few years after the death of Christ, way more than 3.5 years afterwards, so the 70th seven could not have happened immediately after the first 69 sevens.

    Rosenthal did make a minor mistake or two in his book, but understanding the 70th Seven was not one of them of them. You need to remove the beam from your eye before you try and get a speck out of Rosenthal’s.

    You are justified in knocking Dispensationalism as it is commonly used. The Bible does teach dispensationalism in Ephesians and that God did use different administrations – nobody can question that because it is clearly taught in Scripture. But the Bible never states any more detail about these divisions and we are wrong to use our assumptions as premises for further logic. Especially premises that are considered more clear than all the details listed in Scripture.

    Dispensationalism is a logic dead end. The Bible does not give detail to make the claims dispensationalist traditionally have. Nowhere does it state God cannot or does not work with Israel and the gentile church at the same time. In fact, the Bible clearly states God does work with both. This is evident all throughout the book of Acts.

    Current history also shows God working right now with both Israel and the church. The church is still here, not raptured, and Israel is now a nation. Anybody who claims God cannot work with both at the same time is ignoring the book of Acts and current events.

    Dispensations are a help understanding the macro view of history but at the front and back end there is overlap between Israel and the church. Dispensationalism is not the clean cut lines some people make it out to be. It is a generalization but not a hard and fast rule with no exceptions. It is a toothless argument and has no bite as a premise.

    Dispensationalism as commonly taught needs to be stripped of all its bad baggage and be restored to its proper understanding. But we should not throw it out in total. It does have a biblical basis. Just not what so many people have claimed. So Doug, I understand your emotion over all false teaching it has perpetuated. I too feel the same way.

    Jorg, the pre-mil, pre-wrath rapture is the proper understanding of Scripture. I have no problem being rational understanding Scripture and yet understanding the mysterious and wonderful works of the Spirit at the same time. There is no reason to escape from reason, as Francis Shaeffer liked to put it. Just because people made mistakes in the past does not mean it is impossible to understand now.

    Is this not what God told Daniel? He said people were not going to understand it until the end. Why are we surprised when that is what actually happened? Seems pretty rational to me.

    • Eric Heil says:

      The fact that the 70 weeks are divided as such by no means implies that they are not concurrent. It simply means the 70th week is the most important. Also, desolations were not carried out in the 70th week, desolations were determined in that week. They were carried out in 66-70 AD leading up to the Siege of Jerusalem. As for national Israel, they will convert to Christ and be merged back into True Israel, which is the Church of Jesus Christ.

      • toby says:

        “by no means implies they are not concurrent?”

        Yes it does. You cannot wish all this detail away by the wave of your hand.

        Do you agree the beginning point of this 70th seven is the decree to rebuild Jerusalem? If not, then you totally contradict the clear teaching of scripture. The beginning point is clearly and unequivocally defined.

        If the beginning is defined, what about the other points? What of the ending definition of the first 69 sevens? The Messiah will be cut off. Jesus was killed at this point in history. Do you disagree on this understanding?

        The next point that is defined is the destruction of Jerusalem. Well that was about 40 years later. Do you disagree that this is what the verse is saying. If so, then what part of “destroy the sanctuary and the city” do you not agree with?

        If you have a problem so far then you need your brain checked. This is straight forward biblical interpretation meets history. All this was fulfilled. Nothing tricky here.

        Then the beginning point of the last seven is given – the signing of the covenant. Do you agree with this statement? It then gives states that something significant happens at the mid-point, the breaking of this covenant. Do you still agree? If not, then where do you get off this train, so to speak? I see no exits.

        The end is the establishment of the Messiah, his kingdom, and Jerusalem. Obviously this has not happened yet. Jesus is not here reigning in Jerusalem now. Anybody who claim such should end up in the funny farm.

        You have a division between the first 69 sevens and the last seven. Definite points are given and are not equivocal. There is at least a 40 year gap mentioned and that is right where the historical fulfillment stopped.

        The destruction of Jerusalem was about 40 years after the end of the first 69 sevens. So you have to maintain a gap between the first 69 sevens and the last seven. Otherwise the end of the seventieth seven would be about AD 40. That does not match up with anything in history. The destruction of Jerusalem would be 30 years too late. So you have to agree there was a gap. Yet you somehow try to say there is no gap. Gap or no gap, which is it?

        Jesus mentioned this stuff from Daniel as still be future to him. But so did Paul in 2 Thess 2 and he wrote over 7 years later. He clearly wrote to tell people they were not in the last times. I could totally see people possibly think this right before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The main point 2 Thess. was written by Paul was to tell people the events taking place around them was not the fulfillment of the 70th seven.

        There not only is nothing in history to match up with the details given in Daniel, which Jesus himself told us to make sure we understand, but we have clear teaching in scripture that the 70th seven was not fulfilled then.

        Revelation was also written well after the destruction of Jerusalem and the details in Rev 6 and 7 do match up with the Olivet Discourse in Matt 24. So John, by direct Revelation of Jesus himself, said Matt 24 was still future.

        Marv Rosenthal is one of many people who point out the clear match between Matt 24 and Rev 6-7. These two passages do match up. So we have both Paul and John clearly give data that the 70th seven was still future to them. If it was good enough for Paul and John, it is good enough for me.

        Eric, you did not respond to my points of logic the first time. Here are even more points. If you fail to respond to all these details, then you lose the debate by default.

    • Cole says:

      Daniel 9:26 says Messiah shall be cut off (crucified) AFTER 69 weeks, not during. Jesus’ baptism, ministry, and death occurred during the 70th week. The weeks did run consecutively and were fulfilled by AD 34. The parts of verses 26 and 27 that talk about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the abomination of desolation happened in AD 70. This event was not part of the 70 prophetic weeks, but was the fate of the wicked Jews that rejected Messiah. “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering” refers to the ministry of Jesus Christ. For 7 years, the ministry of the Gospel (the New Covenant) was offered to the Jews only. The 7 years (the 70th week) began with His baptism when He was anointed Most Holy and revealed as Israel’s Messiah. 3 1/2 years later, Jesus was crucified. For the next 3 1/2 years, the ministry was continued to the Jews only. In 34 AD, Paul was converted. Thereafter, the Gospel was extended to the Gentiles. I don’t know how the Antichrist and a 7 yr. peace treaty got into this picture! But it shows profane unbelief and a mockery of Scripture.

  6. Bill Evans says:

    But thanks be to God who always leads us in TRIUMPH…..no evacuation, regardless of it’s success, can be called a victory.

  7. Rodolfo says:

    On Walvoord’s statement quoted by Marvin Rosenthal: “….There simply is no explicit exegetical evidence for pretribulation rapturism.” As though that was not enough.Tim La Haye’s reply to Gary was even more jarring:”…true there are no text from the Bible that explicitly teaches about the Pre-Trib Premil, Dispensational-Rapture theory. But there are NO text either that teaches, there is NO Pre-Trib Premil,Dispensational-Rapture theory from the Bible.” !(Just recalling from memory-Rodolfo).

    I say, we don’t build doctrines like the Trinity on the basis of absence of proof text that tells us there is NO Trinity in the Bible. Rather, we build the doctrine of the Trinity in terms of proof text, passages , narrative accounts & a vast host of internal biblical exegetical evidence that exist & point to the doctrine of the Trinity! Indeed Trinity is a solid doctrine built explicitly on the existence of proof text & not on the absence of proof text that disproves its existence.

  8. Mark says:

    People love charts that’s for sure.

  9. jorg stevens says:

    You know, one of the things we Christians since the first century struggle with is the amount of supernatural workings of the Holy Spirit to help spread the gospel. i mean when you look at Philip getting raptured after sharing the gospel in Acts chapter 8, stephen seeing the heavens open, the signs and wonders of the early apostles, etc. it baffles us. i’ve heard theologians speak of “the normative principle” when it comes to the book of Acts. But what we miss is that there ISN”T anything normative about the ENTIRE New Testament. So we try to rationalize, say, 1Thess. and come up with some wierd interpretations because we are embarrassed by thinking maybe something supernatural happened in 70AD that the church missed. as Martin lloyd Jones pointed out we have to take the epistles in light of the book of Acts. it was an incredible century of the working of the Spirit, and when we rationalize it, we get interpretations like the rapture or premil, amill, or post-mill interpretations that miss the truly revolutionary work of the first century Church.

  10. Doug Jerving says:

    Even after years of seeing the errors of dispensationalism, I am still dumbfounded that I once believed its twisted web of junk-theology. The chart alone is enough for the common sense Christian to step back and question whether dispensationalism is Scriptural or a cult-devised fairy tale. I now realize it is the cult of Darbyism. Like so many modern cults, it is based on eschatology un-moored from its Biblical foundations. Like all cultism it is a house built on sand.

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