RAPTURE TIMING PT. 5 (The Seals of Revelation)

This series is written as a defense of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Timing

Pretribulation vs. PreWrath on the Seals

The Pre-Tribulation position probably should also have been called Pre-Wrath as we do believe the Tribulation comes before the Lord’s wrath. We understand rightly that we are not appointed for wrath. PreWrath and PreTrib disagree completely on the interpretation of the Seals of Revelation. PreWrath teaches it is the wrath of Satan and men and not God’s wrath at all.

Obviously I believe Pretribulationism is the position that properly interprets the timing of the Rapture. I also believe it correctly interprets the seals and their opening as indeed the wrath of God (the Lamb). One of the things we consider is Who is opening the seals and the purpose. We see the Seals as His judgment. (Again, there is much back-up in OT Scriptures about this particular type of judgment – i.e., famine, death by beasts, sword, killing, pestilence, etc.). We understand God’s judgment to be God’s wrath. I believe that we correctly equate all the seals with His judgment and wrath (rather than man’s or Satan). Of course PreWrathers would disagree with my assessment.

Regardless of our position, please be willing to ask the contextual questions, cross-reference Scriptures (when OT is either quoted or alluded to), and study always with His approval as your goal. We should humble ourselves under His mighty hand, and cast all our cares upon Him (1 Pet 5:5-7).

(Previous Rapture Timing Articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

The Mystery

The rapture is a mystery that was given to the church (not Israel –1 Cor 15:51-52). If we are not raptured until somewhere during the end of the time of Jacob’s Trouble, then the mystery is not just for the church. It would have to include Israel as well and all Gentiles saved out of the Tribulation (that is assuming you even believe Gentiles are saved in the Tribulation, as some do not).

Jesus spoke about this ahead of time regarding our gathering to Him (John 14:1-3). The disciples didn’t quite understand it yet (Think on Romans 15:4). It was the same thing we saw with Christ’s work that was to transpire on the cross, (including His death and resurrection). The gospel was preached since the beginning. But those who believed would come to understand all these things in time.

In John 14 Jesus was speaking to His disciples (who would be the foundation of the church) about where He was going, and also that He was preparing a place for them to be with Him forever. He would come again and gather them to Him in the clouds. 

PreWrath teachers (such as Marvin Rosenthal) agree that John 14:1-3 speaks of the rapture. But Rosenthal says we should not use this passage and at the same time say that Matthew 24 is speaking to Israel. His reasoning is formed by lumping in hyper or ultra-dispensationalism with traditional dispensationalism. This is because some hyper-dispensationalists say John is not for the church — I disagree with hyper dispensationalism. For example, Romans is written to the church, yet chapters 9-11 deals mainly with the past, present, and yet future plans for Israel while Paul is speaking to the church about them.

In turn, I believe PreWrath proponents have missed God’s purpose for Israel in this time, by blending Israel with the church in having the remnant be a part of the rapture (from out of the Tribulation). They also seem to gloss over the fact that Christ is speaking of Daniel’s prophecy. PreWrath also blends Israel (a separate future remnant) with the church (in having them be a part of their timing of rapture – near the end of the tribulation).

Even John the Baptist (as a ‘friend of the bridegroom’ — not the church), would not have been raptured, as he died before the church was formed (in other words, John was not ‘in Christ’). So he will be resurrected at the end (Daniel 12:2). They also often see the virgins in Matt 25:1-13 as the church. In my humble estimation, this causes even more confusion not getting the intended audience right.

In the last part we dealt with how PreWrath confuses many things in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21). Jesus is speaking to the Leaders of Israel about what will happen to them for their rejection of Him as the Messiah, including the fall of their temple. And His Jewish disciples are asking Him about what He just said to them, when these things would happen.

The PreWrath position usually understands the oil to be the Holy Spirit, but mixes up the virgins with the Church. We are the bride, not the virgins or bridesmaids. Israel is the friend of the Bridegroom, not the bride. And I believe they agree that the Sheep (at the Sheep and Goat judgment – Matt 25:32-33) are believers, and the Goats non-believers. But with their timing, there sure won’t be many sheep on the earth.

Contexts asks whether it speaks to us specifically. The purpose of the book of John I believe firmly is shown to be evangelical in nature (John 20:31). I also state that the book of John (as a whole) includes His death for our sin and His resurrection to life, along with the promise of the Spirit. Some say it is not evangelical, but that’s another article for another person. For me, I believe the obvious and don’t need to opine in depth over it.

Maranatha

The word Maranatha is an Aramaic expression which means ‘our Lord come’. The expression itself is considered imminent. The second coming of the Lord deals with Christ’s Judgment, and I believe this includes all of the seven years. 

I also strongly believe that Scripture shows we are taken out of the way right before the judgment begins with the opening of the first seal. I see this as the removal of the restrainer or ‘He who letteth’.  Since the Holy Spirit is omnipresent, this ‘taking out of the way’ I can only see as the Holy Spirit indwelling the church — a restraining influence against evil in this world. (Further expounding on the Restrainer in the next part).

PreWrathers say the majority or large part of this seven years is Satan or Man’s wrath. Pre-Wrath blogger, author and radio host, Alan Kurschner says that the rapture will happen during the 30 minute silence in heaven. 

Jesus says no man knows the day or the hour, but Kurschner knows the half-hour???

The Seven Seal judgments

 “Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury (or wrath) on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”For thus says the Lord God: “How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem—the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence—to cut off man and beast from it? Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it.  And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,” says the Lord God. EZ 14:19-23

Previously, we have discussed the OT Scriptures that show not only Famine, Death, Sword, Pestilence, and death by beasts, along with birth pains, are always shown as God’s Wrath/Judgment.  PreWrather Alan Kurscher writes them off as ‘natural events’1. The judgments seen in the seven seals are specifically happening because Jesus is opening them and giving power to the Conqueror and causing the pestilence and famine and death by beasts as He did with Pharoah and Egypt. Jesus is the one to whom all judgment and all execution of judgment has been committed (John 5:22,27), Which means this time must be the wrath of the Lamb. So remember these seals are God’s JUDGMENT on those who dwell on the earth. 

PreWrather Alan Kurschner states that “The first four seals express natural events” and adds, “nothing new here”. Another interesting comment he made was “these are ‘likely’ in the future” (he doesn’t know for sure that Revelation is futuristic?) He also comments, “Nevertheless, the point is that the nature of these seals do not convey elements of God’s eschatological day of the Lord’s wrath.”1

Wrong:  His statement completely goes against all the Scriptures that show death in these manners are God’s wrath and He is executing them.  The first seal judgments ALL convey elements of God’s wrath from Birth Pangs (which are equated to wrath in the Old Testament), to death by famine, pestilence, sword and killing by beast (all of these identified as wrath, anger, fury and the day of the Lord). And this will be the largest scale ever seen in history, 1/4 of the earth will be slain. I marvel, do these people not scour the Old Testament prophecies to see the example of how God has dealt in wrath and judgment upon His people before? Or do they somehow think this time it won’t be His wrath?

Another Argument Kurschner makes is that somehow these martyrs who have been killed by man, so it cannot possibly be God’s Wrath. Stating it would be wrong for God to have them (who have become believers) killed. This entire time is part of the purging in the last seven years and includes the wrath of men as well as Satan (as we see very well in the book of Job). Man is responsible, but God has allowed it for the good of Israel to come to faith and for the witness of those who are martyred. Some will endure until the end and be delivered physically from out of the Tribulation and will procreate in the Millennial Kingdom. But many will be martyred during this time. That does not negate that this entire time is the wrath of the Lamb.

The question is asked who is worthy to open the seals on the scroll. Revelation 5:4 says that no man in heaven is worthy. I believe that’s not only evidence that people are already in heaven, but that the Son of Man is the only one worthy solely because judgment belongs to Him.  I also believe it proves that man is not in control of what is happening on the earth (although they may think so). It is not Satan’s wrath that controls these events, as he can only go as far as God permits to fulfill these prophecies.

Wrath and Judgment – Satan’s or God’s wrath

Satan has always been at enmity with man who was made in the image of God. From the beginning he has had a special enmity with woman, and is a murderer and a liar from the beginning. He has always had anger against man. We’ve already discussed in the last seven years, Daniel 7 explains Satan will prevail against the saints in his anger. Revelation 12 explains how Satan will furiously persecute Israel when he is again cast out of heaven. But Jesus explained to Peter that the gates of hell would NOT prevail against the church. The saints Satan is prevailing against in the Tribulation is not the church.

The church though is not appointed to wrath. We only have the Bema seat to look for next after the Rapture. We are under no judgment or condemnation, nor purging of the ‘rebels’, which is one of the purposes of the seven years. Clearly these seals are punishment for those who dwell upon the earth. God has often used ungodly people or nations to punish Israel (or others) for their disobedience. Think of Pharoah and Egypt or Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar. These could not have taken place had He not allowed it.

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah

The King’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion… Pr 19:12

In opening the seals, Jesus is seen as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David. He is the Lamb, the Redeemer, but He is also shown as the Judge and the King of Kings. This is so significant, as He is taking back His rightful place as King of the earth. The Lion, the Judge, has been roused — He is the Ruler of the earth with the title deed in His hand (Gen 49:9-10). With each seal, trumpet and vial, Jesus Christ is putting His enemies under His feet. This is not tribulation as the world gives.

I believe this reference to God as the Lion of judgment is seen in other Scriptures. In Hosea 11:10-11 and Hosea 13:7-14, He refers to Himself like a Lion in Judgment. He also speaks of wild beasts tearing them (Israel) up. His anger and wrath with Israel is referenced in all this. The sorrows or birth pangs of a woman, (this Scripture says), will come upon Israel for their sin. He refers to Himself also as a King who will help them.

The nations who would conquer are represented as different beasts in Daniel 7. God did bring Israel out of judgment then, but there is yet a period of seven years of judgment to come for their transgression (seen in Daniel 9). And God will redeem both His land (that He promised to Israel alone), and the remnant of His people (Deuteronomy 32:36-52, Romans 11:1-5).

The Seals of Revelation

From the opening of the first seal by Jesus, we see a Conqueror who is given the power to conquer. Jesus alone has the right to give this power.

Then we see Jesus in the Second seal giving the Conqueror power to take peace from the earth (with war and killing with a Great sword). Jesus grants and sends the sword that comes (Is 27:1), and will gather Israel in the end with a trumpet (Is 27:12-13; Matt 24:31).

Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. Rev 6:4

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34

And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. Revelation 6:4 (see also Matthew 24:6-7a)

In the 3rd seal we see famine being sent upon the earth (along with pestilence which is mentioned in the Olivet discourses — generally pestilence always accompanies famine).

A side note on the pestilence. One of the pastors I listened to had become convinced of the PreWrath theory when he read Marvin Rosenthal’s book. He made the argument that pestilence was never mentioned in Revelation 6. Same argument Rosenthal has made. These are foolish arguments since neither position disagrees that the things spoken of in Matthew 24 aren’t included in Revelation 6. Not every word will be identical in both passages but when we look at the whole counsel in parallel passages and the prophetic OT passages, we see pestilence as well. And NASB does include the word pestilence in Revelation 6. If we’re to have an honest conversation, we should stay away from the arguments that don’t get either side anywhere.

In the fourth seal, we see death by sword, hunger (or famine), and by the beasts of the earth killing people. The body count is massive. It is ¼ of the earth. (Side note: Another fruitless argument I believe is that it is a ¼ of the land mass, not the population. Take it literally).

For behold, the Lord will come with fire And with His chariots, like a whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword The Lord will judge all flesh; And the slain of the Lord shall be many. Is 66:15-16

Then we see huge martyrdom by the fifth seal and those souls are under the altar. Most in the Pre-tribulation position believe this shows they do not yet have their resurrected body (more on that later). The martyrs are crying out for vengeance on those who ‘dwell upon the earth’ (more on who dwell upon the earth later).

So when are the martyrs of Seal 5 (described in Rev 7:9-17) resurrected? Scripture shows that these martyrs are given new bodies at the ‘first resurrection’ (Rev 20:4-5). The Martyr’s resurrection transpires AFTER Jesus comes back down to earth with His Saints. We believe the Bible clearly shows, that it is the church, the bride, the wife of the Lamb. So we believe that this portion of the first resurrection cannot be the Rapture. If you don’t understand (or remember) the timing of the first resurrection and that there are several different resurrections within the first resurrection, please read PART 1 HERE.

In the sixth seal all the people of the earth from the greatest to the least recognize that the great earthquake and all the cosmic signs are the wrath of the Lamb. As discussed before, the PreWrath argument is that the verbiage is ‘is come’ (erchomai) and yet this tense is generally rendered past tense. I don’t think suddenly the people of the earth have some new insight at this point. They’ve already seen massive loss of life. There will be more earthquakes and more cosmic signs to come.

IF (big if) this was suddenly when the Day of the Lord arrives, then how is this some surprise for ‘them’ (1 Thess 5:1-9)?

This is a HUGE CONTRADICTION that most in the PreWrath camp either ignore or badly explain away. The people of the earth, ALL of them are declaring that the wrath of the Lamb has come.  

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Did His wrath come with the judgment of the first six seals?
  • Or did His wrath suddenly arrive AFTER these things?
  • Is only the seventh seal His wrath?
  • Are these people of the earth surprised?
  • Are they going about life as usual?
  • Or are they caught sleeping?
  • Are those who are not His saying ‘peace and safety’?
  • Are they giving themselves in marriage in the caves?
  • Eating and drinking (partying)?
  • Were they unaware until this moment as in the Days of Noah when the door to the Ark was shut and the floods came?
  • Or are they already HIDING in the caves and the rocks of mountains?

Part 6 to come soon (Lord willing)

Whenever the rapture is, do you know where you will be for sure when you die? His Word assures us that you CAN know for sure that you will go to heaven.

Love in Christ to you all, regardless of your position on timing of the rapture

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Footnotes

These are for citations only, they are not recommendations to these sites.

1 – https://www.alankurschner.com/2013/07/24/are-the-seven-seals-of-revelations-scroll-the-wrath-of-god-because-jesus-opens-them-up/

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