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The Rapture of the Church

Part One    Part Two    Part Three    Part Four    Part Five    Part Six    Part Seven    Part Eight


Introduction

In Part One we looked at the definitions of the following terms: the Rapture, the Second Coming, the Antichrist, the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, the Millennium, and the Church. We saw that prophecy is very important to God, and therefore we should not dishonor Him by considering Bible prophecy to be a waste of time or impossible to understand.

In Part Two we examined Daniel's "70 Weeks" prophecy, and we learned that 69 of those "weeks" (483 years) have already been accomplished. The 70th "week" is still in the future, and it will be the seven years of the Tribulation. When God put His 70 Weeks plan for Israel on hold after the Triumphal Entry, almost immediately He began a new and separate plan which we call "the Church." There is only one view of the Rapture which preserves this separation between God's 70 Weeks plan for Israel and His plan for the Church, and that is the pre-trib view. All of the evidence indicates that God has intended for those two plans to be kept separate and distinct from each other, with no mixing whatsoever. Therefore, it is unScriptural to claim that the Church will go through any part of the seven-year Tribulation period.


In Part Three we'll examine the ways in which God's wrath will be poured out onto the earth during the seven-year Tribulation, and we'll see that these things only fit with the pre-trib view of the Rapture.


The "Scroll Deed of Purchase"

Before we look at the ways in which God will pour out His wrath onto the earth, it's helpful to have some background information.

First, notice that when God gave possession of the land of Israel to the Jews, He commanded that the land must not be sold permanently. The reason was because the land was owned by God, and the Israelites were tenants and servants:
"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what his countryman has sold. If, however, a man has no one to redeem it for him but he himself prospers and acquires sufficient means to redeem it, he is to determine the value for the years since he sold it and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it; he can then go back to his own property. But if he does not acquire the means to repay him, what he sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and he can then go back to his property. If a man sells a house in a walled city, he retains the right of redemption a full year after its sale. During that time he may redeem it. If it is not redeemed before a full year has passed, the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to the buyer and his descendants. It is not to be returned in the Jubilee. But houses in villages without walls around them are to be considered as open country. They can be redeemed, and they are to be returned in the Jubilee. ... for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 25:23-31, 55)
In the above passage, we can see that the Israelites were God's servants who held tenant-possession of the land of Israel, and God gave them instructions to ensure that each piece of land remained within the family or clan which was given that piece of land. Here are some more examples:
"Say to the Israelites, 'If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father's brothers. If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the LORD commanded Moses.'" (Numbers 27:8-11)

"They said, "When the LORD commanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance to the Israelites by lot, he ordered you to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. Now suppose they marry men from other Israelite tribes; then their inheritance will be taken from our ancestral inheritance and added to that of the tribe they marry into. And so part of the inheritance allotted to us will be taken away. When the Year of Jubilee for the Israelites comes, their inheritance will be added to that of the tribe into which they marry, and their property will be taken from the tribal inheritance of our forefathers." Then at the Lord's command Moses gave this order to the Israelites: "What the tribe of the descendants of Joseph is saying is right. This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad's daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within the tribal clan of their father. No inheritance in Israel is to pass from tribe to tribe, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal land inherited from his forefathers. Every daughter who inherits land in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father's tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of his fathers."" (Numbers 36:2-8)
The above passages show that God had commanded that each family's land must remain within their tribal clan. If a person needed to sell some land, it was the responsibility of the nearest "kinsman" (the nearest relative) to redeem the land by buying it (Leviticus 25:23-31, above). Here's an example of a "kinsman-redeemer":
"Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. ... Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz. ... Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, "Sit here," and they did so. Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, "Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line." "I will redeem it," he said." (Ruth 1:3, 2:1, 4:2-4)
So the kinsman-redeemer had the right and the responsibility to buy the land (if possible) in order to ensure that it remained within the family.

Here's an example where the prophet Jeremiah acted as a kinsman-redeemer for his cousin Hanamel while foreign invaders from Babylon were besieging Jerusalem:
"This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah. Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, "Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, 'This is what the LORD says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will capture it.'" ... Jeremiah said, "The word of the LORD came to me: Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, 'Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.' Then, just as the LORD had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, 'Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.' I knew that this was the word of the LORD; so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. I took the deed of purchase--the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy--and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard. In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. For this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.'"" (Jeremiah 32:1-15)
In this example, the "redemption price" was 17 shekels of silver, which gave Jeremiah the right to possess his cousin Hanamel's land. After a deed was signed in those days, the scroll was then rolled up and sealed with drops of wax to protect it from tampering. Then the scroll was signed on the outside by witnesses, as in the above passage. Sometimes an exact copy of the deed was left unsealed so that the terms and conditions of the sale could be read. If someone suspected that the unsealed copy of the deed had been altered, the purchaser (Jeremiah in this case) was the only person who was authorized to break the seals on the deed and reveal its contents.

In the above passage, notice that when Jeremiah purchased the land, he did not immediately take possession of it. Since he was a prisoner, and since the land had been invaded by the Babylonians, Jeremiah ordered that the copies of the deed be kept in a safe place so that they would last a long time. When Jeremiah returned to take possession of the land, if an invader who occupied the land wanted to challenge Jeremiah's right of ownership then Jeremiah could break the seals on the scroll and prove his ownership.

With this background information in mind, recall that God owns the entire earth. God gave the right of tenant-possession of all the earth to the human race through Adam and Eve:
"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."" (Genesis 1:26)
However, a foreign invader (the devil) managed to gain possession of the earth through deceit when Adam and Eve were swayed by the devil and rebelled against God's authority. This is why the devil said that the kingdoms of the world had been given to him (which Jesus didn't deny), and why the devil is called "the prince of this world" and "the god of this age":
"The devil led him [Jesus] up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"" (Luke 4:5-8)

"I [Jesus] will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me" (John 14:30)

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4)

"We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." (1 John 5:19)
So Adam and Eve (and the human family) were given the right of tenant-possession over all the earth, but through their sin the devil was able to gain control over the world.

Notice that when Jesus was born on the earth, He became a part of the human family. As our relative, He was in the position to be our kinsman-redeemer. The "purchase price" that He paid was His blood, and He redeemed what we had lost. The "scroll deed of purchase" belongs to Jesus. As in Jeremiah's case, Jesus did not immediately take possession of the land (the earth), but instead He is in heaven while the land (the earth) is occupied by foreign invaders (the devil and his angels). Before Jesus returns at the Second Coming, He will bombard the devil's kingdom through a series of judgments, and then He will finally evict the enemy and take full possession of the earth. The devil will try to prevent Jesus from taking possession of the earth (Revelation 19:11-19), but the "scroll deed of purchase" proves that Jesus is the rightful owner of the earth.

Here's a description of Jesus' scroll deed of purchase:
Revelation 5:1: "Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals."
Revelation 5:2: "And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?""
Revelation 5:3: "But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it."
Revelation 5:4: "I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside."
Revelation 5:5: "Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.""
Revelation 5:6: "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth."
Revelation 5:7: "He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne."
Revelation 5:8: "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."
Revelation 5:9: "And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation."
In verse 1 (above), we see God holding a sealed scroll. Since God is holding this scroll, there must be something very special about it. In verse 2, a mighty angel asks in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" Only the rightful person can open the scroll, but at this point there is no rightful person to be found, which caused the apostle John to weep and weep (verses 3 and 4). This is clearly a very important scroll. Then Jesus comes forward, and we learn that He has triumphed and is able to open the scroll and its seven seals because with His blood He purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer, and not only does He have rightful ownership of the earth, but He has purchased us with His blood as well. The sealed scroll is a "deed of purchase" (Revelation 5:9, above), just as a sealed scroll was Jeremiah's "deed of purchase" in Jeremiah 32:1-15 (above).

Before Jesus returns at the Second Coming to take possession of the earth, He will first open the scroll deed of purchase by breaking all seven seals, one at a time. Each time a seal is opened, we see that something terrible takes place on the earth, most of which are judgments of God's wrath being poured out on the earth. For this reason, Bible teachers refer to these events as "the Seal Judgments." When the seventh seal is opened, then a new round of judgments is unleashed as seven angels sound their trumpets, one at a time. Bible teachers refer to these as "the Trumpet Judgments." When the seventh trumpet is sounded, then a new round of judgments is unleashed as seven angels pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth, one at a time. Bible teachers refer to these as "the Bowl Judgments."

In a moment we'll examine all 21 of these judgments of God's wrath.


Scriptural Names or Designations for the Seven-Year Tribulation Period

According to The Footsteps of the Messiah (Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, p.121-122), here are a number of names or descriptive designations for the seven-year Tribulation, taken from the 1901 American Standard Version:
The Time of Jacob's Trouble - Jeremiah 30:7
Jehovah's Strange Work - Isaiah 28:21
Jehovah's Strange Act - Isaiah 28:21
The Day of Israel's Calamity - Deuteronomy 32:35; Obadiah 12-14
The Tribulation - Deuteronomy 4:30
The Indignation - Isaiah 26:20; Daniel 11:36
The Overflowing Scourge - Isaiah 28:15, 18
The Day of Vengeance - Isaiah 34:8; 35:4; 61:2
The Year of Recompense - Isaiah 34:8
The Time of Trouble - Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah 1:15
The Day of Wrath - Zephaniah 1:15
The Day of Distress - Zephaniah 1:15
The Day of Wasteness - Zephaniah 1:15
The Day of Desolation - Zephaniah 1:15
The Day of Darkness - Zephaniah 1:15; Amos 5:18, 20; Joel 2:2
The Day of Gloominess - Zephaniah 1:15; Joel 2:2
The Day of Clouds - Zephaniah 1:15; Joel 2:2
The Day of Thick Darkness - Zephaniah 1:15; Joel 2:2
The Day of the Trumpet - Zephaniah 1:16
The Day of Alarm - Zephaniah 1:16
The Day of the Lord - 1 Thessalonians 5:2
The Wrath of God - Revelation 15:1, 7; 14:10, 19; 16:1
The Hour of Trial - Revelation 3:10
The Great Day of the Wrath of the Lamb of God - Revelation 6:16-17
The Wrath to Come - 1 Thessalonians 1:10
The Wrath - 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 11:18
The Great Tribulation - Matthew 24:21; Revelation 2:22; 7:14
The Tribulation - Matthew 24:29
The Hour of Judgment - Revelation 14:7
As we have seen, the seven-year Tribulation period is a specific block of time in the future when God will complete His 70 Weeks plan for Israel. His wrath will be avenged during this period, and He will turn the hearts of the Jews to His Son so that at the end of the Tribulation every surviving Jew will receive salvation (see my article called The Second Coming).

Sometimes people misunderstand about the future Tribulation period, and they point out that all Christians will face trials and tribulations in this life, based on passages such as these:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

"And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity." (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)

"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." (Philippians 1:29-30)

"We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know." (1 Thessalonians 3:2-4)

"Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring." (2 Thessalonians 1:4)

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." (1 Peter 4:12-19)

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12)
The above passages demonstrate that all Christians can expect to experience trials and tribulations in this life. However, these trials and tribulations have nothing to do with the seven-year Tribulation period. Again, "the Tribulation" (with a capital "T") is simply a name that Bible teachers tend to use when referring to the future 70th "week" in Daniel's 70 Weeks prophecy (which we examined in Part Two). The Tribulation (capital "T") is a specific block of time in the future with a specific starting point (when Israel signs a seven-year treaty with the Antichrist) and a specific ending point (at the Second Coming) and a specific duration (seven years on the Jewish calendar) and specific purposes (to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness [Daniel 9:24] and to bring multitudes to salvation [Revelation 7:9-15] and to remove rebellious Jews so that the remaining Jews will receive salvation [Daniel 9:24, Isaiah 13:9, Exekiel 20:34-38, Romans 11:26]), which was specifically prophesied throughout the Old and New Testaments (see the names and descriptive designations listed above).

So when we talk about "the Tribulation," this has nothing to do with the trials and tribulations that we all face in this life.


Is the Church Meant to Suffer God's Wrath?

In the previous section we saw some Scriptural names or descriptions of the seven-year Tribulation period, many of which focus on the wrath of God, such as: The Day of Vengeance, The Day of Wrath, The Wrath of God, The Great Day of the Wrath of the Lamb of God, The Wrath to Come, and The Wrath.

Again, the Tribulation is the period of time when God will pour out His wrath onto the earth. But is the Church meant to suffer God's wrath?

In Part Two we saw that the Church (with a capital "C") is made up of every person who receives salvation (i.e. is truly born again) from the day of Pentecost until the Rapture. We also saw that the Church is the body of Christ. Just as God the Father holds no condemnation or wrath against Christ, God also holds no condemnation or wrath against Christ's body. If you are a member of the body of Christ (i.e. the Church) then you will never experience any condemnation or wrath from God, and you are not appointed to suffer any wrath:
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)

"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Romans 5:9)

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)

"and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
Again, the seven-year Tribulation is specifically the period of time in the future when God will pour out His wrath onto the earth by means of the Seal Judgments, the Trumpet Judgments, and the Bowl Judgments. As we'll see in a moment (and in Part 5), the entire Tribulation period will be the time of God's wrath. The Church will never experience any wrath from God, so the Church will never go through any part of the Tribulation period. There is only one view of the Rapture in which the Church will be removed from the earth before God begins pouring out His wrath, and that is the pre-trib view.


The Seal Judgments, Trumpet Judgments, and Bowl Judgments

Now let's take a look at all 21 judgments of God's wrath which will take place during the Tribulation:

THE SEAL JUDGMENTS

  1. The First Seal Judgment:

    Revelation 6:1: "I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!""
    Revelation 6:2: "I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest."
    When Jesus comes down out of heaven at the Second Coming, this will happen at the end of the Tribulation after all of the 21 judgments are completed. He will be riding a white horse, and He will be wearing many crowns, and He will have a sword (Revelation 19:11-16). In contrast, when Jesus breaks the first seal on the scroll (above) we see someone else on a white horse with only a single crown, and carrying a bow. This is a false Christ, whom we refer to as "the Antichrist." In Part Two we saw in Daniel's 70 Weeks prophecy that the Antichrist will be revealed at the very beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period when he signs a treaty with Israel, so it makes sense that in Revelation 6:1-2 (above) we see the Antichrist being revealed with the very first Seal Judgment at the beginning of the Tribulation period.

    Notice that Jesus is the one who will unleash the Antichrist on the world. During Old Testament times, God sometimes used humans to execute His wrath on the rebellious nation of Israel (see for example 2 Chronicles 36:15-17, Ezra 5:12, Jeremiah 32:28-36), and during the Tribulation it will be the Antichrist and his armies who will be used by God in executing His final wrath on unbelieving Israel. Remember, the seven-year Tribulation will be the 70th "week" of God's 70 Weeks plan for Israel (as we saw in Part Two).

  2. The Second Seal Judgment:

    Revelation 6:3: "When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!""
    Revelation 6:4: "Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword."
    Here we see another judgment of God's wrath in the form of peace being taken from the earth, which means that there will be unprecedented war and death and destruction during the seven-year Tribulation.

  3. The Third Seal Judgment:

    Revelation 6:5: "When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand."
    Revelation 6:6: "Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!""
    Since food prices are so high, this is an indication of famine. In a moment we'll see why this is another judgment of God's wrath.

  4. The Fourth Seal Judgment:

    Revelation 6:7: "When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!""
    Revelation 6:8: "I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, one-fourth of the earth is killed by sword, by famine and plague, and by wild beasts.

    As we'll see in Part Five, God had promised Israel that sometime in the future they will have peace and safety:
    "I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken. 'I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety. I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations.'" (Ezekiel 34:23-29)
    For reasons which we'll see in Part Five, the leaders of Israel will make a seven-year covenant of peace with the Antichrist, and they will think that they have achieved the time of peace and safety which was prophesied in the above passage.

    In the time of peace and safety which God had promised (above), there will be no war, no famines and plagues, and no dangerous wild beasts. Notice that those specific things (war, famine and plague, and wild beasts) will be used by God as judgments of His wrath at the beginning of the Tribulation (Revelation 6:7-8, above). This will demonstrate that the Antichrist's covenant of peace is not the covenant of peace which God had promised to Israel.

    The riders on the four horses in the first four Seal Judgments (above) are sometimes referred to as "the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

  5. The Fifth Seal Judgment:

    Revelation 6:9: "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained."
    Revelation 6:10: "They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?""
    Revelation 6:11: "Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed."
    This indicates that there will be a terrible martyrdom of saints during the first half of the Tribulation. We don't actually see any saints being martyred in this passage, but instead we see the souls of saints who have already been martyred.

  6. The Sixth Seal Judgment:

    Revelation 6:12: "I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red,"
    Revelation 6:13: "and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind."
    Revelation 6:14: "The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place."
    Revelation 6:15: "Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains."
    Revelation 6:16: "They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"
    Revelation 6:17: "For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?""
    In this judgment of God's wrath we see convulsions in the earth (and possibly in the heavens). The sun turns black and the moon turns blood-red, perhaps due to thick clouds of smoke or perhaps something will happen to the sun and moon. When the apostle John said that "the sky receded like a scroll," was he seeing mushroom clouds from nuclear explosions, which looked like "scrolls" in the sky? When John said that "every mountain and island was removed from its place," this simply means that there are geological changes from earthquakes and so on. This doesn't mean that the mountains actually disappeared, because the above passage describes people hiding in the mountains.

  7. The Seventh Seal Judgment:

    Revelation 8:1: "When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."
    Revelation 8:2: "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets."
    Revelation 8:3: "Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne."
    Revelation 8:4: "The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand."
    Revelation 8:5: "Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake."
    Revelation 8:6: "Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them."
    In verse 1, the seventh and final seal on the scroll is opened, and there is silence in heaven for about half an hour. The word "and" in verse 2 (kai in the Greek) is a connecting word, so after John notices the silence in heaven, he then sees seven angels being given seven trumpets. Bible commentaries tend to describe this silence as being a hush of awe before the next round of judgments, which sets the seventh seal apart from the preceding six seals.

    In verse 6 we see the connecting word "then," which indicates a sequence of events because the seven angels received their trumpets in verse 2 and then they prepared to sound their trumpets in verse 6 (the word "then" in verses 5 and 6 is the same Greek word kai that we saw in verse 2). The events in Revelation 8 (including the Trumpet Judgments below) all occur in sequence, so Bible commentaries tend to say that the seventh Seal Judgment will not be completed until all seven Trumpet Judgments are completed (e.g. Wesley's commentary Offsite Link, Robertson's commentary Offsite Link, People's New Testament Commentary Offsite Link, Gill's commentary Offsite Link, Walvoord and Zuck's commentary Offsite Link, etc.).

    Although we see some noisy events taking place on earth in verse 5, the hushed silence in heaven does not seem to be broken in the above passage. It appears that the silence is broken by the seven angels sounding their trumpets, one at a time, unleashing the Trumpet Judgments.

THE TRUMPET JUDGMENTS

  1. The First Trumpet Judgment:

    Revelation 8:7: "The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, one-third of the earth and trees and grass are burned up.

  2. The Second Trumpet Judgment:

    Revelation 8:8: "The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood,"
    Revelation 8:9: "a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, one-third of the sea turns to blood, and one-third of the sea creatures are killed, and one-third of the ships are destroyed. A later judgment will be more severe, because the entire sea will turn to blood and every sea creature will die (see the second Bowl Judgment below).

  3. The Third Trumpet Judgment:

    Revelation 8:10: "The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water--"
    Revelation 8:11: "the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, one-third of the drinkable water sources are poisoned somehow, and many people die. A later judgment will be more severe, because all sources of drinking water will turn to blood (see the third Bowl Judgment below).

  4. The Fourth Trumpet Judgment:

    Revelation 8:12: "The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night."
    Revelation 8:13: "As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!""
    In this judgment of God's wrath, somehow one-third of the day and night are without light. This one-third blackout is different than the blackout described in Revelation 6:12 (above). A later judgment will be more severe, because the Antichrist's entire kingdom will be plunged into darkness (see the fifth Bowl Judgment below).

    In verse 13, woe is pronounced over the inhabitants of the earth because of the final three trumpet blasts.

  5. The Fifth Trumpet Judgment:

    Revelation 9:1: "The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss."
    Revelation 9:2: "When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss."
    Revelation 9:3: "And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth."
    Revelation 9:4: "They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads."
    Revelation 9:5: "They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man."
    Revelation 9:6: "During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, smoke rises from "the Abyss," which darkens the sun and sky. This is a different blackout from the blackouts described in Revelation 6:12 (above) and Revelation 8:12 (above). People who are not under God's seal are tortured somehow for five months, and they long to die but death eludes them.

  6. The Sixth Trumpet Judgment:

    Revelation 9:13: "The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God."
    Revelation 9:14: "It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.""
    Revelation 9:15: "And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind."
    Revelation 9:16: "The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number."
    Revelation 9:17: "The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur."
    Revelation 9:18: "A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, one-third of the remaining population of the earth is killed.

  7. The Seventh Trumpet Judgment:

    Revelation 11:15: "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.""
    Revelation 11:16: "And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,"
    Revelation 11:17: "saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign."
    Revelation 11:18: "The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great-- and for destroying those who destroy the earth.""
    Revelation 11:19: "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm."
    In this passage, God receives praise because Jesus has taken the rightful possession of the kingdom of the world, but notice that this passage doesn't say that Jesus will return to the earth at this point. Similarly, the sixth Bowl Judgment (below) describes Jesus saying, "Behold, I come like a thief," yet He will not actually come back to the earth at that moment because there will still be one more Bowl Judgment to go.

    Notice that verses 15 through 19 take place in sequence. Verse 16 is connected to verse 15 by the word "and" (and by the descriptions of praise), so it sequentially follows the events in verse 15. Verses 17 and 18 sequentially follow verse 16 because they describe what the 24 elders said. Verse 19 sequentially follows verse 18 because of the connecting word "then."

    In verse 19 we see God's temple in heaven opened up, and the series of Trumpet Judgments ends with thunder and lightning and an earthquake, as well as a great hailstorm. Two chapters later, the apostle John described the "mark of the beast," and then two chapters later he said:
    Revelation 15:1: "I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues--last, because with them God's wrath is completed."
    Revelation 15:2: "And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God"
    Revelation 15:3: "and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages."
    Revelation 15:4: "Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.""
    Revelation 15:5: "After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened."
    Revelation 15:6: "Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests."
    Revelation 15:7: "Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever."
    Revelation 15:8: "And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed."
    Revelation 16:1: "Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth."" . . .
    Revelation 21:9: "One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.""
    The above passage tells us that seven angels have the seven last plagues, and we are told that these last plagues are the seven bowls of God's wrath (which are often referred to as "the Bowl Judgments"). Revelation 15:1 (above) says that these are "last, because with them God's wrath is completed." Since the seven Bowl Judgment plagues are the last judgments, this means that there must be some other judgments of God's wrath which will take place before the Bowl Judgments. As we have seen, seven Seal Judgments and seven Trumpet Judgments will take place before the seven last Bowl Judgments. In other words, all 21 judgments of God's wrath will take place consecutively, one after the other.

    Notice that John saw God's temple in heaven being opened in Revelation 11:19 (above), and he saw the opened temple again in Revelation 15:5 (above). Since there is only one temple in heaven (these verses refer to it as "God's temple" and "the temple"), there are three possible scenarios concerning the opening of the temple:

    • Perhaps in Revelation 15:5 the temple was still opened after having been opened up in Revelation 11:19. If this scenario is correct, then the events in Revelation 15:6-16:1 come after Revelation 11:19.
    • Perhaps the temple was opened in Revelation 11:19, and then it was closed, and then it was opened again in Revelation 15:5. If this scenario is correct, then the events in Revelation 15:6-16:1 come after Revelation 11:19.
    • Perhaps the temple was opened once, but John witnessed the same event twice in his vision (both in Revelation 11:19 and in Revelation 15:5). If this scenario is correct, then the events in Revelation 15:6-16:1 come after Revelation 11:19.

    No matter which scenario is correct, the end result is the same. The Bowl Judgments in Revelation 15:6-16:21 (described below) will take place after the seventh Trumpet Judgment in Revelation 11:15-19 (above). We'll see in a moment that this has some implications for the post-trib view of the Rapture.

THE BOWL JUDGMENTS

  1. The First Bowl Judgment:

    Revelation 16:2: "The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, ugly and painful sores break out on those who take "the mark of the beast."

  2. The Second Bowl Judgment:

    Revelation 16:3: "The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, the entire sea turns to blood and every sea creature dies.

  3. The Third Bowl Judgment:

    Revelation 16:4: "The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, all sources of drinking water turn to blood.

  4. The Fourth Bowl Judgment:

    Revelation 16:8: "The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire."
    Revelation 16:9: "They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, the heat from the sun is intensified so that it scorches people.

  5. The Fifth Bowl Judgment:

    Revelation 16:10: "The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony"
    Revelation 16:11: "and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, the Antichrist's kingdom is plunged into darkness. This is a different blackout from the blackouts described in Revelation 6:12 (above), Revelation 8:12 (above), and Revelation 9:2 (above).

  6. The Sixth Bowl Judgment:

    Revelation 16:12: "The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East."
    Revelation 16:13: "Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet."
    Revelation 16:14: "They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty."
    Revelation 16:15: ""Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.""
    Revelation 16:16: "Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon."
    In this judgment of God's wrath, the Euphrates river dries up, and demons perform miraculous signs. These demons gather the Antichrist and the armies of the nations to the place called Armageddon in preparation for the so-called "Battle of Armageddon."

    My article called The Second Coming shows that the Antichrist and his forces will march from the mountain of Megiddo ("Har-Mageddon" or "Armageddon") to besiege Jerusalem. This will cause the Jews to turn to the Lord and receive salvation, and then Jesus will come down at the Second Coming to rescue them.

  7. The Seventh Bowl Judgment:

    Revelation 16:17: "The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!""
    Revelation 16:18: "Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake."
    Revelation 16:19: "The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath."
    Revelation 16:20: "Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found."
    Revelation 16:21: "From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible."
    The Bowl Judgments end with lightning, thunder, and the worst earthquake in history. Something happens to the islands and mountains, and there is a huge "plague of hail." A voice from the temple says, "It is done."

Now that we have looked at all 21 judgments of God's wrath which will take place during the seven-year Tribulation period, let's consider the implications for the various views of the Rapture.


Implications for the Mid-Trib Views

The mid-trib views of the Rapture tend to be based on people's honest and sincere views about the timing of when God's wrath will start to be poured out onto the earth during the Tribulation, because we have seen that the Church was not appointed to suffer God's wrath. For example, some people believe that God will start pouring out His wrath at the sixth Seal Judgment in Revelation 6:16-17 (we'll examine this view in Part Five), so they believe that the Rapture will take place before the sixth Seal Judgment. Other people say that God will start pouring out His wrath at some other point(s) during the Tribulation, but what these mid-trib views all have in common is the belief that the Church will go through part of the seven-year Tribulation period before being raptured.

However, we have seen that God's wrath will start being poured out with the very first Seal Judgment at the beginning of the Tribulation, and in Part Five we'll see further evidence that the entire seven-year Tribulation period will be the time of God's wrath. Therefore, all of the mid-trib views are false. The pre-trib view is the only view of the Rapture which has the Church being raptured before God's wrath starts to be poured out at the beginning of the Tribulation, which fits all of the Scriptural facts.


Implications for the Post-Trib View

According to the post-trib view, Jesus will descend from heaven down towards the earth at the Second Coming, and when He reaches the clouds then we will be raptured and will accompany Him back to earth.

We have seen that the entire seven-year Tribulation period is the time when God will pour out His wrath onto the earth, and we have seen that the Church will never experience any wrath from God. Therefore, the post-trib view is false because it erroneously has the Church experiencing the full seven years of God's wrath.

One argument that people tend to use in favor of the post-trib view is that Paul said that the Rapture will take place "at the last trumpet" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52), which they believe is the seventh Trumpet Judgment (above). But when they use this argument, it creates an interesting dilemma for them. When we examined the seven Seal Judgments and the seven Trumpet Judgments and the seven Bowl Judgments, we saw that those 21 judgments will take place in sequence, one at a time. But this means that the Bowl Judgments of God's wrath will take place after the seventh Trumpet Judgment, and therefore the Second Coming won't happen at the seventh Trumpet Judgment (remember, the Second Coming will take place at the end of the Tribulation after all 21 judgments have been completed).

Here's how they resolve this dilemma. Since they need the Second Coming to happen at the seventh Trumpet Judgment (due to their interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:51-52), they have no choice but to place the Bowl Judgments in such a way that God's wrath will be completed at the seventh Trumpet Judgment. They do this by saying that the Seal Judgments, the Trumpet Judgments, and the Bowl Judgments will overlap each other so that they are all completed at or before the seventh Trumpet Judgment. This "overlapping" idea doesn't come from the descriptions of these judgments in Revelation chapters 6 through 16 (above), but instead this idea comes from an honest and sincere attempt to reconcile Paul's statement that the Rapture will happen "at the last trumpet" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) with the seven Trumpet Judgments in Revelation.

However, in Part Four we'll see that 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 does not refer to the seventh Trumpet Judgment. Therefore, the post-trib view is erroneous.


Conclusion

Since Jesus was born as a human, He was able to be our kinsman-redeemer to buy back what the human race had lost. Because of His blood, He has the rightful ownership of the earth. When He begins breaking the seven seals on the "scroll deed of purchase," this will unleash judgments of God's wrath on the kingdom of the foreign invader (the devil) who is occupying the earth. When the final seal is broken, then seven angels will be given trumpets for a new round of judgments to take place. When the seventh trumpet is sounded, then seven angels will be given bowls which contain "the seven last plagues," and these last judgments will complete God's wrath.

We saw that there will be several blackouts during the seven-year Tribulation. There have been other blackouts in the past (e.g. Exodus 10:21-23 and Matthew 27:45), and Jesus said that there will be a blackout immediately after the Tribulation (Matthew 24:29-30, which in context is the same as the blackout in Joel 3:14-15). Joel 2:30-31 (quoted in Acts 2:19-20) describes a blackout before the coming of the "day of the Lord," which means that it will happen before the Tribulation begins, or it will happen just before the Second Coming (in Part Five we'll examine what "the day of the Lord" means). Isaiah 13:9-10 also describes a blackout in connection with "the day of the Lord."

When we looked at the Seal Judgments, the Trumpet Judgments, and the Bowl Judgments, we saw that God's wrath will start to be poured out onto the earth with the very first judgment at the beginning of the Tribulation period. God is not pouring out His wrath during the present Church Age (e.g. through hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.). Since the Church was not appointed for God's wrath, and since the entire seven years of the Tribulation will be the time of God's wrath, this means that the Church will not go through any part of the Tribulation period.

The pre-trib view is the only view of the Rapture which has the Church being raptured before God's wrath starts to be poured out at the beginning of the Tribulation, which fits all of the Scriptural facts. Multitudes of people will receive salvation during the seven-year Tribulation period, but they will not be members of the Church, Christ's bride, because the bride will be removed from the earth before the Tribulation period begins. Later we'll see what the bride will be doing in heaven while the Tribulation is raging on earth.


All for Your glory, Lord Jesus!


Part One    Part Two    Part Three    Part Four    Part Five    Part Six    Part Seven    Part Eight
 
 
 
  Modification History  
 
 

  • 09/22/2009 - Added a new section heading called "The "Scroll Deed of Purchase"." Added a section called "Scriptural Names or Designations for the Seven-Year Tribulation Period." Added a section called "Is the Church Meant to Suffer God's Wrath?" Added links to some Bible commentaries under "The Seventh Seal Judgment." Added some more information to "The Seventh Trumpet Judgment." Added a link to my article called "The Second Coming" under "The Sixth Bowl Judgment." Added a section called "Implications for the Mid-Trib Views." Added a section called "Implications for the Post-Trib View." Moved the information about blackouts from Part Four to Part Three. Modified the "Conclusion" section.
  • 03/01/2004 - New article.