I grew up going to a church that taught the pre-tribulation rapture. As a kid growing up in a church culture infatuated with the soon coming end of planet earth, I developed a terrible fear of being left behind in the supposed secret rapture. I was not a good little boy, in fact I was quite rebellious most of my life until I reached my 20s. I couldn’t get excited about this secret rapture thing because I knew I would be the first one to get left to endure the dreaded “seven-year tribulation period.”
Most of my knowledge about the pre-tribulation rapture did not come from the Bible, but from the Left Behind books and movies which were fictional works and only loosely based on actual scripture.
Here are three facts about the pre-tribulation rapture view that I never heard much about until I began studying eschatology, the study of last things, in 2013.
1.There Are No Bible Verses That Support The Pre-Tribulation Rapture
Before you burn me at the stake, I want you to hear this directly from Tim LaHaye, the creator of the Left Behind series.
“One objection to the pre-tribulation rapture is that not one passage of Scripture teaches the two aspects of His Second Coming separated by the Tribulation. This is true. But then, no one passage teaches a post-trib or mid-trib Rapture, either.” 1
Even Tim LaHaye admits there are no Bible verses that show the church being taken off the earth prior to a seven-year tribulation period.
He tries to justify this shocking lack of Scriptural support by stating that other views such as the mid-tribuation and post-tribulation rapture view also do not have clear verses that support them. However, this does nothing to justify Tim LaHaye’s view, it only proves that all three of these beliefs lack contextual Scriptural support and thus they should all three be left behind.
2. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture View Teaches That The Temple Will Be Rebuilt In The Future Not Once, But Twice. And In The Second Rebuilt Temple, Animal Sacrifices Will Be Reinstated.
Dispensational scholar Mark Hitchcock, who was closely connected to Tim Lahaye and has received many book endorsements from him, lays out a prophetic timeline for the supposed future events in his book “The End.”
At the end of the book he identifies 47, yes 47 distinct events that are supposedly going to take place after a secret rapture event. Talk about a headache trying to mentally remember 47 different events!
Mark shows in this timeline one temple being rebuilt at the start of the supposed seven-year tribulation period, and another at the start of the supposed future 1,000 year millennial reign from Jerusalem.
1. The Seven-Year Tribulation
a. The seven year tribulation begins when the Anti-christ signs a covenant with Israel, bringing peace to Israel and Jerusalem.
b. The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt.
2. The End Of The Tribulation
a. “The millennial Temple is constructed or at least begun.” 2
First off, it’s important to note that there is not a single verse in the New Testament that predicts the temple of stone will be rebuilt some day in the future, especially rebuilt twice.
If you see an article or concerned Christian make a Facebook post that states that people are rebuilding the temple, it does not automatically mean it’s predicted in the scriptures. They can rebuild 10,000 temples, but it doesn’t mean it’s prophetic fulfillment.
The only references to the temple of stone in the New Testament are to its destruction.
“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matt. 24:1-2
Everyone agrees it’s a historical fact that the temple Jesus was pointing to was destroyed in AD 70 by the Roman armies which was documented by the historian Josephus. 3
It would also be completely counter productive to rebuild the temple considering the Jewish temple of stone represented a system of animal sacrifices that has now been made completely outdated and obsolete through the perfect and final sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 8:13)
What shocked me the most was when I found out that according to the pre-tribulation rapture view, in the temple that is built in the supposed 1,000 year millennial reign, animal sacrifices will be reinstated!
I wish I was making this up, but I am not.
I was raised to believe the pre-tribulation rapture view my entire childhood, and I never remember anyone telling me about animal sacrifices being reinstated, or that the temple is supposedly going to be rebuilt twice. I certainly was never shown this in the Left Behind series. In fact, my wife and I just watched the most recent Left Behind Film with Nicolas Cage because we were curious how much actual doctrine was in the movie. There was only one point at the very start where a lady talks about there being earthquakes in the last days. That was it. Not only that, but the movie was very boring and there was not even a single famous Nicholas Cage flip out scene! It’s pivotal we study both the history of our beliefs, as well as if they have a Scriptural backing.
“A very controversial aspect of the worship in the Millennium is that animal sacrifices will be re-instituted in the massive millennial Temple… All agree these sacrifices will not be offered to take away sin… So, how do we explain Ezekiel’s description of animal sacrifices in the millennial Temple (Ezekiel 43:18-27)? Some maintain that these sacrifices will, like the Lord’s Supper, serve as a powerful memorial to the one sacrifice for sin forever, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ… A better explanation is that those sacrifices serve as a ritual purification. During the millennium, a holy God will be dwelling on earth in the midst of people in their glorified bodies but also in the midst of sinful people living in natural, unglorified bodies (he’s talking about those who made it through the 7 year tribulation period). These sacrifices prevent those worshipers from defiling God’s holy Temple when they come to worship Him… Because of God’s promise to dwell on earth during the millennium, it is necessary that He protect His presence through sacrifice.” – Mark Hitchcock 4
So you are telling me that people are going to be slitting the throats of lambs and goats just feet away from the glorified, exalted, King Jesus Christ? Seriously? If the blood of Christ was enough, why would we continue to slaughter animals? Not only does this lack Scriptural support, but it even violates common sense. Also, how can you place eating a cracker and drinking grape juice (communion) on the same level as slitting the throat of a lamb or goat?
I want you to imagine for a second Jesus telling someone: “Sorry sir, I am too holy for you to approach me in worship, go kill that sheep over there and then you will be clean enough to worship me.”
That sounds silly and extreme, but it’s exactly what most pre-tribulation advocates are saying will supposedly take place during the 1,000 year millennial reign of Christ.
Why did Jesus prophesy the temple of stone would be destroyed (Matt. 24:2) if it was just going to be rebuilt again, twice? Also, where are the clear verses in the New Testament that state the temple will be rebuilt, or that animal sacrifices will be reinstated? It is also interesting that the Holy Spirit had no problem entering us while we were completely dead in our sin, yet suddenly in the supposed 1,000 year millennial reign God’s presence needs to be protected by us slaughtering animals. I hope that you are like me and see the terrible contradiction of these beliefs in light of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us on the cross. Gary Demar puts it well:
“The original temple was a shadow of things to come. It was designed to be a temporary edifice looking forward to the completed work of Jesus Christ (Isa. 66:1–3; cf. 1:11–13; Mal. 1:10–11).
“Jesus’s completed redemptive work makes the need for a rebuilt temple unnecessary. His ministry begins with the declaration that He is our tabernacle (John 1:14), “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29), “the temple” (John 2:19–21), and the “chief cornerstone” (Matt. 21:42; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20). – Gary Demar” 5
3. The Pre-tribulation Rapture Teaches That The Kingdom Of God Is Not Accessible In This Age.
According to advocates of the pre-tribulation rapture, we are currently in the “Church Age,” and our only focus should be on getting people saved, not on making the earth look like Heaven and advancing the Kingdom of God now.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at some quotes I collected about the Kingdom of God from leading teachers and scholars of the pre-tribulation rapture view.
“The next kingdom on the horizon is not the kingdom of God but rather the Antichrist’s kingdom. Only after the Antichrist’s evil kingdom is personally overthrown by Christ will the Messianic kingdom become an earthly reality. This basic divinely revealed chronology logically teaches that those involved in kingdom building in the present Church Age are not contributing to God’s kingdom since God’s kingdom can only come after the Antichrist’s kingdom has been abolished by God. Rather, they are helping build the next kingdom on the prophetic horizon, which is the Antichrist’s kingdom!” – Dr. Andy Woods 6
“Don’t listen to those “allegorical alchemists” who twist the clear, normal meaning of the Scripture to say Jesus will come only after we prepare and restore the world and bring in the Kingdom of God for Him. Christ comes when things are at their worst and restores the world in the beginning years of the millennium. The Bible couldn’t be more clear about that.” – Hal Lindsey 7
“We are presently in the church age or the dispensation of the grace of God. The message, “repent for the kingdom is at hand” is being spread throughout the world.” – Perry Stone 8
“The Scriptures do teach that Christ has dominion over all mankind, and that believers will reign and rule with Him, but the question is when. Rule with Christ will take place in the future Kingdom. This is why it is important to understand that the current age is not yet Christ’s Kingdom, but the Church Age.” – Tommy Ice 9
“The pre-trib (rapture) position teaches that the Church is raptured, not restored.” -Tommy Ice 10
The pre-tribulation rapture view teaches that the present age is the “Church Age,” NOT “The Kingdom Age” where Christ is ruling and reigning, so accordingly we should not expect Kingdom activity like restoration to take place in the world.
According to this view, our job in this age is to get as many people saved as possible. In addition we should then wait for Jesus to rapture us, not try to bring restoration to the church and world, which according to this teaching is beyond repair.
That’s why Dr. Andy Woods stated in the quote earlier that those who are trying to bring the Kingdom of God now are actually in conflict with the so called prophetic order of God which is to first let the “Antichrist” set up his Kingdom BEFORE the Kingdom of God can come.
According to this view, the increase of darkness in the church and earth is not a sign we should rise up to advance the Kingdom of God, bringing righteousness, joy, and peace to the world. This is actually a sign that a secret rapture is near where Jesus will clean up the world in the millennium or “Kingdom Age.” The thinking is “Why would we try and fix the world now when Christ will fix everything when the millennium happens?”
According to this view, all the restoration will take place in the golden age of peace known as “The Kingdom Age” in the future. In other words, Jesus will fix everything once He is sitting in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, we just need to hang on tight…
“During the golden age of peace, the millennial reign, the righteous Gentiles and the Jewish people will be center stage with the Messiah… Men will study war no more, and every man shall “beat their swords into the plowshares”. The wolf will not devour the lamb and the Kingdom of God shall endure forever.” – John Hagee 11
Do you see how pre-tribulation rapture advocates such as John Hagee place all the restoration and peace in the supposed future millennial period?
If we want to embrace this view, we can go ahead and tear out all the pages in our Bible that mention the Kingdom of God, because if we want to believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, we can’t also believe in a present Kingdom.
If Christ is ruling and reigning right now, that means there is work to do, and the world will grow more like Heaven as the Church made up of both ethnic Jew and gentile who have placed their faith in Christ bring the Kingdom of God into all the world. I believe the Kingdom is spiritual, and is present right now through the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of King Jesus here right now in His temple, the church.
The question you need to ask yourself is, are you waiting, or reigning with Christ? Because we can’t do both. It’s theologically inconsistent to believe the Kingdom of God is present now, but yet not present until after a rapture in the future. It’s also theologically inconsistent to believe the church and world is broken beyond repair, yet also move in faith to bring restoration to the them.
Look at what Tommy Ice, founder of the pre-trib research institute said about those who claim to believe God is pouring out His Spirit, advancing His Kingdom, and restoring the earth through His church, but yet also say they believe in an any moment rapture.
I have meet people who say that they believe in both an any-moment rapture and the necessity of an end-time revival. This is logically impossible. If any thing has to happen before the rapture, then it is logically impossible that the rapture is imminent. Yet, even after asking those who hold this position for an explanation that would resolve this clear conflict, they cannot verbalize one..So this is not an instance of a both/and, but of an either/or. Either the pre-trib rapture is true or it is not. Or, either an end-time “latter rain” revival is true or it is not. Fish or cut bait, but you cannot do both. 12
Even advocates of the pre-trib rapture see the contradiction presented by believing in both a present Kingdom, and an also an absent Kingdom and a any minute rapture.
If I could summarize the pre-tribulation rapture verses a present Kingdom view in one statement it would be this:
The pre-tribulation is all about waiting for Christ to set up an earthly physical Kingdom and finally restore the world in the “future Kingdom age.” In contrast the belief in a present spiritual Kingdom believes Jesus is currently present by His Spirit and is reigning through His Church, the new covenant temple, bringing righteousness, joy, peace, and restoration to the church and the world right now.
We need to make a decision if we want to continue to believe something that states the world and church are beyond repair, the Kingdom is not here, and that doesn’t have clear Bible verses to support it.
These are three reasons why I can’t believe in the pre-tribulation rapture view and why anyone who believes the Kingdom is here and are believing Heaven to come to earth should not either, especially if you are Charismatic like me and embrace the gifts of the Spirit being for today.
All the gifts of the Spirit are restorative in nature, which would mean the gifts are making the church and world better which completely contradicts the Pre-tribulation rapture view that states the world is broken and no restoration will happen until the future 1,000 year millennial reign of Christ in the Kingdom Age.
That’s why many who embrace the pre tribulation rapture are also cessationist, meaning the gifts of the Spirit have ceased. In fact, everyone who believes in the Pre-Tribulation rapture SHOULD be a cessationist, since the gifts are restorative in nature and are in clear conflict with the role of the church in the “church age” which is not to bring restoration, but to help people get saved so they don’t miss the secret rapture.
But, even if you are not charismatic and just believe God is bringing restoration to the church and world in a general sense, I plead with you to disband this pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-tribulation rapture view since all three views are not contextually in the Bible, and completely contradict your world view and mission of healing, restoration, and peace.
Written by: Jordan Hardgrave
- Tim LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm: Why Christians Will Escape All the Tribulation (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1992), 9. Later republished as Rapture Under Attack.
- Mark Hitchcock, The End:A Complete Overview Of Bible Prophecy And The End Of Days (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2012), Pages 464 & 467
- See Josephus: The Wars Of The Jews
- Mark Hitchcock, The End:A Complete Overview Of Bible Prophecy And The End Of Days (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2012), Pages 427&428
- What Does the Bible Say About Rebuilding the Temple? by Gary Demar
- Andy Woods, “The Coming Kingdom”, article from Pre-trib.org. (http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/the-coming-kingdom-42)
- Hal Lindsey “The Final Battle” Page 281
- Perry Stone, “Prophecy Concealed Now Revealed”.
- Tommy Ice, “What Is Dominion Theology?”, Pre-trib.org
- Tommy Ice, “The Latter Rain Revival Movement”. Pre-trib.org. (http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/latter-rain-revival-movement).
- John Hagee, “The Four Blood Moons”. Page 167.
- Tommy Ice, “The Latter Rain Revival Movement”. Pre-trib.org. (http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/latter-rain-revival-movement).