Pre-tribulationists believe in, both, a double end-time Return of Jesus, and a double end-time resurrection of saints. But as neither are found in the Bible in double, pre-tribulationists must resort to whatever scriptures happen to permit arguments to that effect. It amazes me that pre-tribbers will even manipulate a scripture that speaks of God's wrath:
God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Paul was making a distinction here between those appointed to eternal condemnation and those appointed to eternal life; he was therefore referring to Second-Death/Lake-of-Fire WRATH..and not merely to any common spell of God's anger in the here and now. After all, the Bible makes it painfully obvious that the Elect do suffer his anger when sinning grossly (e.g. King David), even punishment by death (e.g Ananias). It is difficult not to classify such Measures as "wrath." Yet we understand that the wrath suffered by the Elect is coupled with eternal mercy and is therefore not the WRATH that Paul referred to.
Such simple logic, wherein post-tribbers insist that there are two different kinds of Wrath, is somehow escaping pre-tribulationists in their desperation to find any "logic" possible to support a rapture prior to the tribulation period. It surely couldn't escape pre-tribbers that Revelation twice speaks of God's wrath as only just arriving in the final days, via the 7th Trumpet and the 6th Seal. This proves that the WRATH arriving in those two plagues is different than the wrath of God in previous history. And that WRATH is referring to Armageddon, the one-way trip into the Lake of Fire.
Pre-tribulationists would have you believe that your appointment with God's WRATH is automatic and guaranteed just for having your ten toes in contact with the earth in the 70th Week. Therein is how Paul's words are re-designed for the pre-trib' rapture purpose: we are now to read them as, "God did not appoint us to the tribulation period, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ through a pre-tribulation rapture."
How can God appreciate this utterly irresponsible revision, as He in the Bible makes it clear that some of the Elect will be persecuted, even killed, in the tribulation period (e.g. Revelation 14:12-13; 20:4)? Obviously, then, as Paul tells us that saints are not appointed to WRATH, we must view the tribulation saints as being persecuted by something other than the WRATH. Surely, this is not difficult, pre-tribbers. Surely you understand that it's the wrath of Satan that will kill some of the Elect in the tribulation. How could Jesus have made it any clearer that the "great tribulation" period is to be defined, not as an act of wrath against the Church--nor even against the world--but an act of wrath against the Jews in the Holy Land:
"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has drawn near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains...because these are days of [God's] vengeance for the fulfillment of all the things which were written [in the Old Testament]...There will be great tribulation in the land and wrath [of God] against this people" (Luke 21:20-23).
Yes, this great tribulation of Judah evolves eventually into Armageddon in order to punish the world, but there must be a distinction made between the two: first, the Jews of the Holy Land are punished for one "Week" (an alternative term to "tribulation period"), then it's the world's turn after the Week. In the meantime, while the Jews are punished, the believers in Jesus are not, as pre-tribbers insist, in the sky having the time of their lives--God forbid.
As judgment starts with the House of God, the Elect Christians must also be purified before Armageddon, and we deduce that they are purified during the same period that sees the purification of the Israelites. But make a distinction: the bloodline Israelites are purified by the Wrath of God, while the Elect Christians are not purified by that Wrath, but by the powers that God permits the Satanic rulers. Those who are Rejected during this period, whether bloodline Jew or believer in Jesus, or who die from God's wrath, will be reserved for WRATH. Make every effort, therefore, not to be Rejected...starting now. Put away false prophecies; stop pillaging the Christians; teach Biblical truth; have compassion on the needy; and whole-heartedly depend on the Cross for forgiveness, and love, both in words and in deeds, the One who died there for you.
The wheat will take comfort in this, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and that it's wisdom that will be required along with faithful endurance in order to be successful in the great-tribulation period (e.g. Daniel 11:32-35; Matthew 24:45; also the parable of the wise/foolish virgins). Fear Him, Jesus said, who has the power to throw us into WRATH.
The wheat realize that the healthy fear of the Lord is not the unhealthy fear of 1 John 4:18, the latter being a guilty conscience. Love for the Father and for the Elect will drive out that fear of condemnation, for the Spirit will manifest within our beings and give confidence to those full of good works...and they will be enabled to stand before the Son of Man rather than stooping down to His WRATH.
A pre-tribulationist will go into detail about the widespread fall of God's wrath in the 70th Week, including the Revelation plagues, and it would be especially supportive of their pre-trib' rapture theory if that period's devastation were made to appear inescapable...targeted for your own bomb shelter. To paint the bleakest picture possible, the entire 70th Week is defined as the "Day of the LORD," which in the Old Testament has such dark and gloomy events attached that it makes one want to give up the ghost just to think about it.
The astute Bible student will recognize that the Day of the LORD is NOT the 70th Week. Anyone with a thorough concordance can check out all the Day-of-the-LORD scriptures, to see that it concerns Armageddon alone; a prime example is Joel 2:31. But even if some Book-of-Life believers should be Permitted to suffer from the great-tribulation wrath upon Israel, it should not be viewed as appointment with WRATH, obviously, but as trials to be saved from. As the sheep realize, it's not WRATH if those who suffer and/or die wake up to eternal life.
It is precisely because the Church is on earth during the Week that the events of the Week will be tolerable. Moreover, mercy will still be available to all during the Week. We see a Body of God's people in Revelation 12 protected in the more-intense, latter half of the Week...while living on the earth. This is not news to any prophecy scholar, and yet pre-tribulationists fail to use this picture to bring some sanity to our perspective of the 70th Week. As post-tribbers have been saying from the start, there will be a "Goshen" in the final Week.
If the United States has the ability to fire smart bombs down chimney shafts without touching the bricks, so to speak, then God, in the Week, can hit certain targets with His localized wrath without affecting His own people...if that's what He should choose, which is exactly what He does choose, at times, according to certain Revelation plagues (e.g. 1st Bowl, 5th Trumpet).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:2, Paul reveals the Day of the LORD as coming like "a thief in the night" and thereby makes the Day synonymous with the return of Jesus, for other scriptures tell us that Jesus himself will come like a thief in the night. Pre-tribbers view their pre-trib' coming of Jesus as the thief-in-the-night return, of course, claiming as evidence that there is no way for the post-trib return to satisfy the "thief-in-the-night" phrase. For, they say, such things as the anti-Christ's appearance and the Revelation plagues would tip everyone off...spoiling the "thief" aspect of the Return.
It is truly regrettable that pre-tribbers wish to make us hard-pressed to explain how a thief-in-the-night Return could catch the Church by surprise if that Return occurs after the tribulation. In response, we must simply ask them to explain how signs of the return could act as signs if the signs occur after the return. Ha ha, what good would it do to place a sign reading, "bump in the road" after the bump in the road?
And so there must be something wrong with the premise of the pre-tribber's argument. The reality is this: the Bible says that it's the world which will arrive to Armageddon without realizing that Jesus is about to appear (e.g. 1 Thess. 5:3), in spite of all the signs of His return. Thus, pre-tribbers err because they wrongly have the thief-in-the-night return surprising the Church when in reality it is Designed to catch the non-Church by surprise (at Armageddon).
Indeed, the timing of the thief-in-the-night appearance is in glaring terms, post-tribulational, in Revelation 16:14-16 and Matthew 24:30-43, not to mention that neither Jesus nor the apostles speak of any other Return but the post-trib' one.
Please be reasonable. Because Jesus gave signs of his return, the signs are meant to tip off the Elect so that the Elect will not be taken by surprise. What could be more fundamental? Therefore, the return will be imminent -- like a thief in the night -- even though the signs reveal its timing. Does this confuse anyone?
Jesus said, "IF you do not watch, I will come as a thief..." On the other hand, IF we do watch, we will not be taken by surprise. Thus, Biblical imminence is a taking of the "sleepers" by surprise. It is His enemies which He intends to surprise on Pay Day, and Pay Day implies that these enemies will first trouble the Elect:
"...it is a just thing for God to repay with affliction the ones afflicting you...at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven with his powerful angels in flaming fire, giving full VENGEANCE to those not knowing God...who will pay the [merciless] penalty of eternal destruction" (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
Can anyone deny that this coming of Jesus and associated WRATH is at Armageddon? The "penalty of eternal destruction" is clearly referring to the Lake of Fire. In this text alone we can prove that the "wrath" that God did not appoint us to suffer begins at Armageddon...when Jesus appears with His angels. And doesn't Paul make it clear that the Elect must be on earth throughout the 70th Week since they are afflicted until the powerful angels appear for Armageddon?
Revelation 16:15 warns us to dress in righteousness as we watch, and clearly shows the thief-like coming occurring in the midst of Armageddon, between the sixth and seventh Bowls. Yes, at the very brink of Armageddon, Jesus says, "Behold, I come like a thief..." But a pre-tribber will avoid this verse when he elaborates on the imminence of the Lord's return, and thus exposes his dishonesty.
In Matthew 24, Jesus discusses the post-tribulation return in verses 29-30 and then underscores its imminence in verse 36 by saying, "no one knows the day or hour." This well-known phrase can only be referring to the post-trib' return of verse 30, since Jesus mentions no other return between verse 30 and 36. In fact, he mentions no other return in the entire Matthew chapter. Therefore, the phrase could be amplified to read, "No one knows the day or hour of the post-trib' coming of verse 30." Therefore, whether the pre-tribbers wish to understand it or not, the glorious Appearance after the tribulation will be by surprise even though the tribulation signs come first.
But the pre-tribber will never admit that the verse-36 phrase refers back to verse 30 because verse 30 is said to be "after the tribulation of those days." Instead, the pre-tribber suggests that Jesus goes from discussing the post-trib return at verse 30 to discussing the pre-trib return at verse 36. Again, note the dishonesty with which he treats the people of God.
Is the onus on us to prove that verse 36 isn't the pre-trib' coming? Of course not. The onus is on those who introduce it out of the blue to prove that such introduction is warranted.
When the Lord told us that we don't know when he's returning, he was simply saying that we don't know the date, whether in the first century, or the fifth, or the tenth, or the twentieth. But when the signs of the Week begin to come to pass, then, obviously, those who are watching are to know the century, and even the year and month eventually. How do I know that this is God's will? Because He said so, by indicating how long the Week would be, and by telling us that it will be near-1260 days from the Abomination to the end of the anti-Christ's rule. And we know that He comes near the end of the anti-Christ's rule.
But because the Return occurs a certain and unknown number of hours/days beyond the 1260-day period, the phrase, "no one knows the day or hour," will remain technically true even during the 70th Week. Thus, Jesus' words, "day and hour," appear well chosen...i.e. he didn't say "month and year."
Still, the fact of the matter is that the rapture is said to be completely imminent. How can this be? Only by shrugging the skincode off as coincidence...shrugging it off as something which by mere chance happens to reflect the mark-of-the-beast text. And if people are willing to view the skincode as a coincidence, they will also view the Revelation plagues and the Abomination in the same way. But it will not be the Elect doing this foolish thing.
Note in the following quote how it's specifically the destructive factor of the Thief's coming which occurs imminently:
"But concerning the times and the seasons [of the Lord's return], brothers...you yourselves know accurately that the Day of the LORD comes as a thief in the night. Whenever they say, 'Peace and safety,' then sudden destruction comes on them...But, brothers, you are not in the darkness, in order that the day should overtake you as a thief...(I Thess. 5:1-4).
This statement assures that imminence is associated only with those enemies not watching. It also confirms that the coming like a thief is synonymous with the "Day of the LORD." We see that the imminent ("sudden") factor is, not just the Return, but specifically the destruction. And, the point is, if sudden destruction occurs at Armageddon, then our view of the tribulation period should be consistent. That is, the tribulation period cannot be Destruction, for Destruction arrives only as of the Day of the Thief.
COASTING INTO THE PLAGUES
Some speak of the tribulation period with such dim and dire extra-Biblical pictures that many post-tribbers are beginning to think it futile to prepare a tribulation retreat. But both Jesus and Paul imply that tribulation conditions would not necessarily allow people to suspect the approach of Armageddon. And in order for this to be true, the destructiveness of the period must be of sufficient mildness or localization.
How could the final destruction of Armageddon come suddenly, as in the days of Noah, or while people are saying "peace and safety," if the tribulation is full of nuclear war? Yet, we have too many Christian teachers predicting nuclear war for the tribulation period...and in the United States yet.
This is not to say that there will not be some "storms" amid the mildness, for there will surely be, even the increased frequency of earthquakes and famines which was Predicted. But as the plagues will wake up the wise to the approaching Day, the same events will be viewed by the sleepers as merely passing storms. As I've heard, a frog left in slowly-heated water will not notice the rise in temperature, but will sit there until it dies. In like manner, the end-time plagues are to slowly increase in intensity, so that the enemies of God will be permitted to ignore the signs, as they wish, and to go about their business as usual.
The ax has been at the root of the trees for a long time now, and how I wish I could say that the "trees" refer to those outside the Christian camps alone. Alas, they also refer to the "friends" of God who do not produce good fruit, but who pillage the people of God. The Christian people have become a marketplace. Judge for yourself: is it right to write a Christian book to make money off of the Word of God? Is it right to sell a Bible for profit? There may even be post-tribbers who sell tribulation foods, etc., who may be prioritizing the money they make off of Christians rather than the good services they claim to offer. Imagine that.
The Revelation plagues, rather than being worldwide in scope, pertain to Israel and the surrounding regions, if we go by the textual evidence. Yes, one third of the trees will burn up according to the first Trumpet, for example, but there is no evidence that this refers to 1/3 the entire world. The Greek word used (gen) is not to be interpreted necessarily as "world," but can be interpreted as "region." In fact, Strong's Concordance (word #1093) defines the word as "soil; by extens. a region."
If the text were indicating 1/3 the world, then it would have used "kosmos," the typical Greek word used to indicate the entire earth, as, for example, it is used in John 3:16.
And the "sea" in the second Trumpet is singular and therefore does not appear to be referring to 1/3 of the world's oceans. Should we really believe that a third of all oceans will be turned to blood prior to Armageddon? Wouldn't that tip the world off so that imminence would not apply? Indeed, the very imminence argument that pre-tribbers use wrongly to promote a pre-trib' rapture can now be used to rightly portray the degree of calamity within the tribulation period: the great-tribulation plagues are not permitted to tip the world off concerning the post-trib' Return!
And note that it's only one "star" in the third Trumpet causing 1/3 the rivers to become polluted. Should we really believe that this one item will pollute 1/3 the entire world's river systems? Rather, would it not be a single bomb dropped on/near Israel that causes a third of that region's rivers to become "wormwood"?
And you can note in Revelation 7:3 that the angels were instructed to hold off on blowing the Trumpets until certain people of God were sealed, and because we find that the ones sealed are all Jews, it stands that the Trumpets had potential to harm only them i.e. not the rest of the world.
The four horses of Revelation represent God's horses (seen also in Zechariah 6) that come against Israel to cause her tribulation. For, the plagues brought about by these horses can be seen in Ezekiel's opening chapters, where he/He deals with end-time Jerusalem. Thus, if the horses, being the first four Seals, all represent God's military campaign against Jerusalem, which we know to begin midway into the Week, the Trumpets and the Bowls could likewise be viewed as pertaining to Israel, and moreover in the final half of the Week. Indeed, even when the string of final plagues brings history to Armageddon, we find that this very term, "Armageddon," means "mountains of Megiddo," which is a region in Israel.
There may be global repercussions from all the plagues upon Israel, especially Armageddon, but the world scene during the 70th Week will be nothing like the picture painted by pre-tribulationists, who promote the idea that 1/3 the world will be devastated. And they erroneously place the killing of 1/3 of mankind in the 70th week as well, where in reality it is a picture of Armageddon. In my chapter, "The Order of Revelation's 21 Plagues," I share reasons for placing the sixth Trumpet at the threshold of Armageddon, after the Week...i.e. after the 1260 days. If this seems impossible to you, then you haven't discovered the proper sequence of the plagues.
Pre-tribbers will also promote the idea that the fourth horse represents the killing of 1/4 of mankind. Thus, the combined 1/3 and 1/4 killed amounts to 1/2 of mankind killed, even before Armageddon! This is sheer folly, making the tribulation period an Armageddon all it's own. The false prophets making money off of the Church, with their books and tapes, and now even videos too, play off of this fear-mongering. But the exaggerated gloom of the final Week simply does not jibe with Paul, who was just echoing the words of Jesus when He said:
"For as they were in those days, eating and drinking before the flood, marrying and being given in marriage, up until the day Noah entered the ark, while they knew not what was coming until the flood came and took everyone, so will it also be when the Son of Man appears" (Matthew 24:38, 39).
The appearance which Jesus is alluding to is, of course, the one mentioned 8 verses earlier in verse 30, which is the post-trib' Return most assuredly. Therefore, his message is clear, that people during the great-tribulation period will be going about, fulfilling every typical human endeavor. There is no presentation of any financial collapse or atomic war on a grand scale. Everything, Jesus is saying, will be as usual...as always.
When we read about the destruction of Babylon in Revelation 18, we see that the sailors at Armageddon lament because they previously "became rich through her wealth" (v 19). Knowing that Mys. Babylon is destroyed at Armageddon, these words suggest that she will be very impressive just prior to. Certainly, no sailor laments the fall of Babylon like this, in that "one hour" which is her doom, if in the years previous there had been a devastating financial crisis. And the "merchants of the earth [will] weep and sorrow over her, because no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold and of silver and precious stone and pearls and fine purple linen and scarlet silk..." (11-12).
The text also speaks about the singing and joy which previously fills Babylon prior to her sudden destruction in "one hour." It's everything as usual in the tribulation period, just as Jesus said it would be, until the lamenting hour of Armageddon, the event that is to pierce the heart of the entire world.
Therefore, don't allow yourself to be misled and alarmed by the reports of certain American-centered "prophets" who are prophesying horrid things for the United States for the 70th Week. Surely, if there is to be atomic warfare in the U.S. it would spell GLOBAL WAR Hardly a nation would utter "peace and safety" in such a situation.
True, "peace and safety" does not suggest a complete absence of wars, but just as there are many wars and natural disasters today, while most of the world eats as usual while attending to ordinary lives, so also the tribulation period will generally be. Yes, there will be war between the False Prophet and God's people, but this is not intended to destroy the social and economic machinery of the world.
In the hot-spot of Israel, men will be looting resident properties, raping the women...you name it (Zech. 14), clearly not on their knees begging God to hold off the plagues. As Pharaoh snubbed his nose at God one plague after the other, ditto for the rulers of the last days, and this indicates that the peoples under them will not be crushed by the plagues, until, that is, the very last one.
SKINCODE NEEDS A HEALTHY ECONOMY
The idea that the world must suffer an economic collapse prior to the tribulation period, is, as far as I can see, not Biblical. Yet, amid Christians, there is a notion being circulated in which a collapse is said to be necessary for ushering in the skin-based system. In fact, would not the contrary be more logical, if logic is the only basis upon which we may debate?
A thriving economy would best open the doors for the skincode. As the plastic cards are evolving to take the place of cash without a collapse, where they are thriving because the markets/corporations are confident, could the skincode not evolve from the plastic cards without a collapse, and precisely because the economy is stable/promising? Indeed, a faltering economy would dampen the hopes of the banks to usher in the skincode. Times of trouble do not spell technological progress in most cases.
The marketplace is not smart to try out a strange purchasing system when the economy is ill, not knowing if it will fully kill or somewhat revive the economy, when the cash and check system is known to work just fine. After all, the skincode is not necessary to make the world of money go round; it merely promises to make things more efficient for the banks, and only slightly more efficient for the consumers. Therefore, it will only be implemented when the economy is healthy--when the economy can handle a small dent should one arise.
Conspiracy theories, such as private "international bankers" in control of world politics, have some truth, but it's very difficult to rightly predict what they will try to do in the end, or what they will actually succeed in doing. We know that the Rothschilds and those before them had failed time and time again to bring about the New World Order. They are only men.
When we're talking about the manipulation of a global, economic collapse, we're not talking the no-risk and easy marketing of chocolate chip cookies, or anything else that everybody wants. We're talking what everyone, including the major corporations themselves, don't want: the upsetting of the economy.
If it's the bankers which are now bringing us the Mondex Smartcard and the skin-based system afterward, they certainly would not encourage an international collapse of the markets, since fluent commerce is how they hope to make money through these systems? The more we buy, the more they make on the fees charged for use of the credit cards/skincode.
Furthermore, the last thing which the silent partners of governments (international bankers) want, precisely because they are heavily involved in their own international, corporate enterprises, is an economic nightmare. It would be a huge gamble to eradicate consumer confidence in the markets in a long-term attempt to seize the corporations of others through a worldwide depression. At one time, when they had more to gain than to lose, economic collapses were debatable, but now that the Rothschilds and partners own so much, the last thing desired is a collapse, in my opinion.
I think that we in 1997 [chapter revised 2002] can now see how a collapse is unnecessary to bring on the skin-based system. All that is needed is a little advertisement to convince the peoples to accept it, with sports heroes and soap-opera stars telling us how fashionable we will be to conform to such a futuristic system. Those that don't conform will feel behind the times.
Globalism is a very fragile thing to begin with, where any little setback, much less damaging than a global collapse of the markets, could set it back for years. We know from the Bible that Globalism will be achieved to a fair degree in the end times, and it is for this very reason that we should not expect a global collapse of the markets. In fact, you can be sure that the engineers of Globalism are working hand-in-hand with private bankers to assure that a collapse will not threaten their dreams for Globalism.
What we should expect, quite to the contrary, is what we are now seeing, an exaggerated economic condition, where the object is to fool the people into thinking that the markets are better than they really are. Such an illusion would serve both the skincode and Globalism. People will be saying "peace and safety," not because there will be an absence of threats/disasters in the world, but because they will be deceived into thinking that peace and security has truly established itself. This illusion could not be created amid a global recession--especially not in a depression.
Have you heard that the United States government is going to give the country up to the United Nations? Have you heard that the US military is being urged to kill American citizens who will not go along with the New World Order? Have you heard that many concentration camps are being set up? Have you heard that the federal government is conspiring with China to bring about a false emergency so that martial law can be installed? Have you heard that President Bush arranged for the 9/11 New York disaster so that he could have an excuse to begin controlling the world? Ignore all these reports, for even if there is any truth to them, God has the last word, and His last word always favors us.
The Almighty has already spoken about the things which the righteous must overcome in the last days, at the front of which is the skincode/image of the beast. Therefore, concentrate on plans to overcome these, and forget about all the other, extra-Biblical possibilities, for if there were anything significant for us to worry about, God would have fore-warned us in prophecy.
In summary, I freely mix into my perspective of the coming days a backdrop of plagues to the normalcy of world conditions, and those plagues will certainly make CNN's headline news, even as they do today. However, my point is that CNN will exist. It will have reporters out and about making a living. They will go to MacDonalds for lunch, to the bank for electronic "cash," and to the bars for refreshment-plus.
There will be laughter in the world right up until the end of the tribulation. When the Two Witnesses of Revelation are killed, at the end of their 1,260 days, the world rejoices and sends gifts to one another, showing that the post offices are yet operating, not to mention the gift shops. But at that time, and that time only, CNN transmitters will shake to the ground; its wires will go up in a gas; and the faces of the newscasters will turn to television "snow," never to be seen again.
There is a vast difference between the tribulation years and the post-trib' Day of the LORD, therefore, and we should not equate the periods as do pre-tribbers.