"Beam me up, Scotty!" Do you remember this famous line from Star Trek? Captain Kirk would flip open his communication device and command his loyal Scotsman to instantaneously beam him up to the Starship Enterprise. I thought it so cool to be instantaneously rescued or transported in a blink of an eye. No more driving in traffic or waiting at airport terminals, but shout out a few commands and "Wala!", I would be at home sipping on ice tea or walking the streets of Seattle or wherever. That would be awesome!
Did you know this scenario is not too far fetched? Did you know that we will be raised up in a twinkling of an eye? No, we will not be able to say, "Beam me up, Jesus, or beam me up, God!" Yet, before the Great Tribulation hits the world, Jesus promised that his followers would be instantaneously transported, rescued or raptured into heaven. Sounds too good to be true?
First, what is the Great Tribulation? What are we being saved from? Well it's not the occasional big earthquake, massive hurricane, or a pandemic like COVID-19, even though these natural disasters are destructive and bad. We are talking about God putting the hammer down on evil once and for all. We are talking bowls of wrath, whole swaths of land and sea being destroyed, and all of evil decimated. It's the great flood being replaced by an all-consuming fire. It's literally the end of the world as we know it.
Would God put his people through such a catastrophic event? Would he allow his bride to be decimated in such a fashion? Is there precedent in Scripture where God saved his people from worldwide judgment or even a regional form of judgment? Yes, yes, and yes. There is precedent in Scripture.
The Bible states in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." God saved Noah and his family out of a flood. He saved Moses and the Israelites from experiencing the plagues rained down on Egypt and delivered them from Pharoah's army by engulfing them in the Red Sea. He delivered the Israelites from the murderous Haman in the story of Esther and rescued the armies of Israel from decimation by larger foes. Yes, there is precedent. God does not want his people to go through wrath, especially his bride.
This brings me to the most important argument for a pre-tribulation rapture: our position as the bride of Christ. Throughout the New Testament, God unabashedly parallels the Jewish and Gentile church as the bride of Christ along with the ancient Jewish wedding traditions and its treatment of the bride (Ephesians 5:22-33, John 14:1-3). It's uncanny. It cannot be denied.
In ancient Israel, the groom would go to his fiancé's father's house and pay a dowry for his daughter's hand in marriage. Then he would go back to his parent's home and prepare a place for them to live after they got married. After the right preparations he would come back at an unspecified time for his bride-t0-be, get formally married, and then embark on a 7 day wedding party or reception. As you can see, it was a very involved process.
In John 14:1-3 it states, "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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. And you know the way where I am going."
Likewise, Jesus, our bridegroom, paid the dowry for our marriage with his life ( 1 Pet 1:18-19, 1 Pet 3:18). After contractually marrying us by paying this dowry, he has gone away to prepare a place for us in his father's house. He will then come again (Matt 25:1-13) to formally marry us and usher us into our heavenly abode and a 7 day/year marriage feast (Rev 19:7-10).
As one can see, the parallel between the church and Jesus with the ancient Jewish marriage tradition is irrefutable. This is where I make my main point. How can Jesus, our bridegroom, after contractually marrying us, prepare a loving home, beat the living daylights out of us through the Great Tribulation, and then come back and marry us? This would be tantamount to spousal abuse. The more plausible course of events would be that Jesus, our loving bridegroom, would come back before the Great Tribulation and rapture his church at the sound of the trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) and usher us into our heavenly home. This is how you would treat a bride. This is how you would treat the true church.
However, there is one caveat or condition: we need to be ready and living as followers of Christ. We need t0 be walking with God and not living our own self directed, selfish lives. We need to relate with Jesus as Lord, not spiritual buddy who just winks at sin. It's clear throughout Scripture that Jesus warns his bride, the church, to not live fleshly, carnal lives before his coming (Ecc 9:12, Matt 24:38-39, 48-51, 25:6-10, Luke 21:34-25). It would not be good. Actually, it would be disastrous. I believe these ones will go through the Great Tribulation and not be raptured. They would have to go through another season of bridal preparation as if through fire.
In a future blog, I will lay out in more detail the marriage feast of the Lamb and other interesting truths about the Second Coming of Christ. For the mean time, go deeper with God, enjoy his fellowship, and always be ready for his coming.