One of the things that a Christian who believes in a pre-tribulation rapture often faces is to be accused of wishful thinking, especially by those in the body of Christ who have a differing view of how End Times will unfold. It is often the position of others that we expect to be whisked out of here just as things begin to get really bad; a Rapture of the True Church just before the horrific events of the seven year tribulation begin. Convenient timing, a sort of “Beam us up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life on this planet” attitude. There may be some who hold to the pre-tribulation eschatology who believe that escape hatch view, there may even be some who profess that belief just because of it (those folks are the wishful thinkers). I, and those of us who blog on this site, are not in those camps. We firmly hold to our eschatology, but we are well aware of the growing hostility to the Christian worldview, especially those with a conservative, fundamental, evangelical one that holds a literal view of the inerrant word of the Bible. And we expect to face plenty of tough times before the Lord comes back for His Church.
I am not here to debate and defend that position, or attack any other. I actually want to issue a warning to all those who hold an End Times view similar to mine. I am pretty sure you are not getting out without having to face trials and persecution. We may expect our Christian lives to become trouble free at the Rapture at a point in time that we don’t not have to deal with the antichrist, nor the real bringer of judgment (in that fire and brimstone way packed Book of Revelation way), the Lord Almighty Himself, through that seven year period of tribulation. But, don’t be so sure that things aren’t going to get really bad for you (and I, and us) before they get really, really great (for you, and I, for us).
Let’s go the source of absolute truth itself, the Word of God to see what light can be shed upon the subject.
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:2-3
So far, so good. Jesus went on ahead to get our rooms ready. And when they are ready, He is going to come back and personally take us there. Sounds like a solid plan to me. But notice that there is no mention how long it was going to take to do this heavenly housekeeping nor when He would be coming back for us. Date setters beware, there isn’t any date set for us. But be assured, He is coming again (and of you have read any of this blog before, you know we think Jesus is coming soon!). That is truth, revealed to us in the Word of God.
A little later Jesus prays right before He heads out for Gethsemane, a prayer often called the High Priestly Prayer, found in John 17. In it are some very interesting words (actually, all of Jesus’ words are interesting):
I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. John 17:9
Jesus is not praying for the world but for us, His Church.
Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. John 17:11-12a
Jesus, with the Father, asks that we be kept in the Father’s name as one with Them, such as He had kept those with Him while He was here.
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. John 17:15-16
There you have it. Jesus prayed, not that we be taken out of the world (at least not until it pleases the Father’s will to do so), but that we be kept from the evil one. Not kept from trials and persecution, just kept from the evil one. Sounds like he doesn’t get possession, but it doesn’t say we avoid persecution. We are not of this world, but we are in it, and not necessarily going anywhere soon, not necessarily missing all the trials and toils of living in a fallen world. And it is a world that gets worse each passing day at that.
Jesus did mention that the world would hate us, but it hated Him first. We may be hated and treated by the world much as Christ was, in fact many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing that kind of hate even today.
Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest said it well:
The typical view of the Christian life is that it means being delivered from all adversity. But it actually means being delivered in adversity, which is something very different.
So, as you read about wars, and rumors of wars; as you hear of earthquakes and famines, remember that these are the beginnings of birth pains. Fight the good fight, run the race as if to win. (I know you know those verses). Don’t stand around like you are waiting for an elevator or on a transporter pad. We may leave tomorrow, we may be here for quite some time.
We should all just go about our Father’s business until He sends His Son to bring us home.