Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)
[*Semantics alert! As can be seen in the chart above, the pre-tribulationists call the entire seven year period–from their secret rapture to the second coming at Armageddon–the “Tribulation.” I divide the time period into a “tribulation for the saints” (the first five seals), then the return of Jesus to gather the saints occurs at the sixth seal, and finally the “wrath of the Lamb” (the trumpets and bowls) is poured out on the earth beginning at the seventh seal.]
Those who believe the Bible teaches a pre-tribulation rapture insist that Matthew 24:29-31 is not referring to the church, but to the Jews. It is the Jews, they say, who are “the elect.” They are the ones who will be gathered “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” They say the church won’t go through the tribulation, so this scripture can’t be about them.
If this is the case, how do they corroborate their theory with the scriptures found in the book of Revelation? Where is the Jewish gathering of the elect from the four winds, characterized by a darkened sun, falling stars, and angels found in the book of the Revelation?
According to the language of the pre-tribulationist, it must occur after the wrath of God is poured out (after what they call the “Tribulation”), but I don’t see any of the Matthew 24 signs occurring in Revelation after the seven year tribulation is complete.
The only place I see these same signs occurring are in Revelation 6:12-7:1. Yet the 144,000 Jews aren’t gathered to meet the Lord at this point. Instead they are sealed in preparation to remain on the earth as they go through the wrath of the Lamb.
The pre-tribulation folks make the mistake of calling the entire period after Jesus opens first seal the “Tribulation Period,” which, according to them, is a period which includes both the seals AND the trumpet judgments and bowls. But this is a confusing and biblically inaccurate way to explain what is actually described in the Bible. (They also make the mistake of mis-identifying the “elect” as the Jews, rather than the church.)
Isn’t it more true to the biblical account that the church (the elect) goes through the “tribulation of the saints” and then Jesus returns “immediately after the tribulation of those days” to gather us with him in the clouds, keeping us safe as the wrath of the Lamb is poured out on the earth, and bringing us back with him at Armageddon?
How can the rapture of the Jews, characterized by the signs found in Matthew 24, occur “immediately after the tribulation” (at the end of the seven year Tribulation, as defined by the pre-tribulationists), yet at the same time Jesus is returning with the church to fight at Armageddon–which is the completion of the wrath of the Lamb? Wouldn’t that mean the gathering of the elect (Jews) would occur right after Armageddon? Why isn’t this Matthew 24 gathering pictured there?
At 4:40 minutes in the video below, Jimmy DeYoung says that Jesus will go to Mount Olive, build the temple (?), go to the battle of Armageddon, and then get the Jews from Petra. He never mentions that the Jews will be gathered to meet Jesus in the air at any point after the tribulation.
Revelation 7:1-8 explains that 144,000 Jews will be sealed on their foreheads and remain on the earth during the judgments of God (Rev. 9:4). Then Revelation 14:1 says that the 144,000 are with Jesus on Mount Zion. There’s no indication that a special gathering with the signs found in Matthew 24 occurs. Instead they merely meet Jesus at Mount Zion. They are kept safe on the earth through the wrath of God, but there’s no gathering in the clouds of the 144,000 Jews pictured at this time in the scriptures.
There’s also no mention of a gathering in the clouds occurring for what the pre-tribulationists call the “tribulation saints.” How do they come to be with Jesus? Since they missed the secret rapture, shouldn’t they be given hope that they will be gathered from the four winds and meet Jesus in the air, just as the Jewish “elect” are supposed to be gathered? But, again, there’s no gathering of the tribulation saints, with all the Matthew 24 signs pictured, immediately before, during, or after Armageddon. And the pre-tribulationists claim the gathering that occurs in Matthew 24 is for the Jews, not for the church, so how do those left behind that become Christians during the Tribulation come to be with Jesus?
If the Jews aren’t being gathered to meet Jesus in the air at the sixth seal, when the sun is darkened and the sky is rolled back like a scroll, who is being gathered at this point? And why does the church appear in heaven, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb immediately after the sixth seal is opened and the 144,000 Jews are sealed in their foreheads?
How can the pre-tribulation position continue to stand?
We may be in the “last days.” We may go through an intense period of suffering and tribulation, yet most of the church thinks we will be gone, taken out in a secret rapture. What if this isn’t the case? Will many Christians feel betrayed by the false teaching of their pastors and religious leaders? I hope not, but I suspect they will.
In light of this concern, shouldn’t the church have a serious debate about this subject?