The saints are not in danger of being “left behind” but of being “caught off guard.” That day will not come till there be a falling away first and that man of sin be revealed(2 Thess.2:3,4). “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”(2 Thess.2:3,4). Who is the man of sin? antiChrist. What is the falling away or better still apostasy? The saints abandoning the faith in Christ due to severe persecution by the antiChrist. This persecution shall be so severe that many believers shall abandon the faith and betray one another. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. “And because iniquity shall abound, love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”(Matt.24:12-13). The End marks the starting point of the day of the Lord’s wrath. It is on that day that the Church is raptured because the saints are exempt from the wrath of God.
The pretribulational Rapture position teaches believers that everything will be alright in the world until the Rapture takes place, and then, Hell will be let loose. The scenario painted by the pretribulational Rapture position will not exist because the Rapture is preceded by more than three and one-half years of wars, famine, pestilences, earthquakes, the Great Tribulation, and cosmic and celestial disturbances. After the Rapture comes the wrath of God from which believers are exempt(1 Thess.1:10, 5:9; Eph.5:6; Col.3:6). The very same day that Noah and his family entered the Ark, the rain deluged the heavens and the fountains of the deep were broken up. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.”(Gen.7:11). The same day Lot and his family exited Sodom, the Lord rained fire and sulphur on the cities of the plain, Sodom, Gomorrah, Zeboim, and Adama. “The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.”(Gen.19:23-25).
Some pretribulationists like Thomas Ice, argue that the the Greek word “apostasia” means “physical departure” not a religious departure, and so denoting Rapture. This understanding of the word “apostasia” was first introduced by J. S. Mabie in 1895. It was later popularized by E. Schuyler English in 1949. Alan E. Kurschner has researched the usages of this Greek word in all the periods of the development of the Greek language and found out that this usage was introduced five centuries after the Greek New Testament. Furthermore, the pretribulationist scholar Paul Feinberg correctly admits, “If one searches for the uses of the noun “apostasy” in the 355 occurrences over the 300-year period between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D., one will not find a single instance where this word refers to a physical departure.”
The Rapture will occur after the tribulation of those days. “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 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.”(Matt.24:29, 31). What pretribulationism is advocating is Rapture before the Great Tribulation which is biblically wrong as shown from these two classical passages on the Rapture. The biblically accurate position is the Great Tribulation before Rapture. The Great Tribulation ends when the saints are raptured after the Great Tribulation is cut short or better still amputed(Greek: koloboo) by the cosmic disturbances(Matt.24:29; Rev.6:12). “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?(Rev.6:12-17). Please brethren, study these passages for yourselves so that you can come to an understanding of the Rapture question based on the scriptures, rather than parrot what you have been told by others which has no biblical basis.
The sixth seal quoted above occurs after the fifth seal which is martyrs under the altar in heaven. These fifth seal martyrs were killed during the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist which is the Fourth seal. These fifth seal martyrs were not killed after the Rapture but before the Rapture. They were not feeble saints left behind after the Rapture. They died for the word of God. They died for the testimony they upheld. They were not new recruits to the Christian faith. They were seasoned believers who refused to compromise their faith. They refused to bow to the image of the Beast, take his mark or the number of name. Both the Fourth and fifth seal are concurrent, co-incident, and simultaneous. In other words, they occur at the same time. There is no distance in the realm of the spirit. As soon as these dear saints are being killed by the antiChrist and his cronies, their disembodied souls and spirits are arriving in heaven where they are quartered under the Golden altar of incense from where they appeal to God for vengeance against their murderers. God answered in the affirmative, but they have to wait until their fellow saints to be martyred are also killed. These saints were destined to be martyred. They were not feeble saints who could not make the first round up. There is a certain number of saints to be martyred. It is a secret number because it is not revealed to us in the Scriptures. The secret things belong to God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and our children,…..(Deut.29:29).
“He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” The KJV translation of this verse is not accurate. A more accurate translation of the Greek will be, “If anyone is destined to be killed with the sword, with the sword the one shall be killed: if anyone is destined to go into captivity, into captivity the one goes.”(Rev.13:10). Once a believer understands and grasps this fact, fear is eliminated.
Once that number is complete God cuts short the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist with cosmic disturbances. When this occurs, the wicked earth-dwellers will scurry for cover in the rocks and mountain calling on these to fall on them because of their fear of the wrath of God which is about to be poured out on them. The cosmic disturbance, the sign given in the Sun, Moon, and Stars, is the sign of the end of the ages. It heralds the wrath of God in the Day Of The Lord. But before God pours out His wrath, the 144,000 are sealed for protection and the Church raptured(Rev.7). The saints are not appointed to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus the Christ. The 144,000 will take over from the Church as God’s representatives on Earth in the interim period between Rapture and Armageddon. Why? Because, God will not leave Himself without a witness on Earth. It is like the handing over of a baton in relay race. The 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel will be God’s representatives alongside the two witnesses after the Church is gone. And for the Church, because God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ(1 Thess.1:10, 5:9).
After the Rapture, the scenario painted by the Pretrib Rapture Position does not exist. If any believer is left behind after the Rapture, it will be because the one was branded with the Mark Of The Beast or had not been a true believer all along, and the one shall face the Wrath of God.
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”(Rev.14:9-12).
This third angelic announcement was made precisely at the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist. The wrath of God which consists of the 7 trumpets and 7 seven bowls will be poured out after the Rapture, after the Great Tribulation has taken place during the Fourth seal.
“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”(Rev.6:7-8).
How could anyone be collecting the articles of the raptured saints during the wrath of God, or be preaching motivational messages, when everyone else will be scurrying for cover under the rocks and mountains invoking death upon themselves due to fear of the wrath of God and the glory of His majesty. So, the scenario painted by pretribs is utterly scripturally unfounded but rather conjectured. Please do an in-depth study of Matt.24 and compare it with Rev.6 and 2 Thess.2. And hopefully you will understand what the Scriptures are trying to say to us. This why we say it is time to jettison bread and butter Christianity to toughen the saints up a bit. It will be a horrible disaster for the Church to enter into the first half of the 70th week of Daniel in its present state flabby and unhardened, let alone the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist in the second half of the 70th week of Daniel(Dan.9:27).
The reason why the antiChrist cannot persecute the saints after the Rapture is two fold. Firstly, there are no saints to persecute. The believers have been raptured, taken to heaven. Anyone in the Church who is unbranded with the Mark Of The Beast and left behind is not a true believer in Jesus Christ in the first place. The one has been a false believer all along. The Church Age which began at pentecost end with the Rapture.
The 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel are sealed for protection and hidden in the modern day red rose city of Petra which is biblical Sela in OT times, a very difficult terrain to access. In New Testament times, it was called Pella. It is in the Edomite wilderness which is in modern day Jordan(Rev.7:1-8). Even during the outpouring of the bowls, the newly saved remnant of Israel are hidden in Azel(Zech.14:5). No one knows the location of Azel. It is an undisclosed location being unmentioned in biblical times either in the land of Israel or anywhere else in biblical history and geography. Secondly, the antiChrist will be masterly inactivated and incapacitated by the cosmic disturbances(Rev.6:12-14; Matt.24:39-30), and by the brightness of Christ’s Coming(2 Thess.2:8). The only two groups of people left on Earth unprotected at that time will be branded followers of the antiChrist, both Jews and Gentiles who will be the majority, and unbranded Jews and Gentiles, the minority. We come to this understanding through the process of elimination.
Remember that during the first part of the wrath of God, the trumpet judgments(Rev.8,9), all the inhabitants of the Earth are targeted including the surviving unbranded remnants of Israel. This is to purify them. Only one-third of the Jewish population which enter the 70th week of Daniel will survive(Zech.13:8). Every Jew who survived the 70th week unbranded will be automatically saved because Israel have been purged, purified, and cleansed by the Great Tribulation, the Times of Jacob’s trouble(Jer.30:7), and the first six trumpets of the wrath of God, and her sin atoned for. Because by the end of the 70th week, her transgression is finished, her sin ended, and reconciliation made for her iniquity(Dan.9:24). And then they will look upon Him whom they pierced and mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son when they see that their Messiah has nail pierced hands.
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.”(Zech.12:10-14).
The only ones exempt from the trumpet judgments are the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel(Rev.7:1-8). The branded followers of the antiChrist will be the object of God’s wrath in the bowls, being specifically targeted(Rev.16,17,18,19). The unbranded Gentiles will not be specifically targeted in the bowl judgments. Any hurt they incur will be collateral damage. By the way, it is the unbranded Gentiles who survive the wrath of God that will appear at the sheep and goat judgment(Matt.35:31-46). The sheep will be justified to repopulate the Earth in the Millennium alongside the saved remnant of Israel(Rom.11:25, 26). The goat will be executed and banished to Hell. We can see the enormity of the teaching that some believers will be left behind after the Rapture to face the antiChrist. There are no two Great Tribulations, but one which occurs beginning from the midpoint of the 70th week before the Rapture of the Church. After the Rapture is the wrath of God which is contained in the seventh seal. The breaking of the seventh seal which occurs on the same day the Church is raptured opens into the wrath of God consisting of the 7 trumpets and 7 bowls.