Friday, August 8, 2014

After the Tribulation - Is Steve Anderson right?

Steve Anderson's viral After the Tribulation video is still popular around the traps. It's hardly in-depth exegesis. In fact it's more of an extended rant. Still, some people love to see criticism of pretribulationism regardless of where it comes from. But how much sense does Anderson's view make?

Non-pretribbers like to point to the sequence of events in Matthew 24. Jesus comes after the tribulation and the gathering is mentioned there, hence that's when the rapture occurs. I saw a fairly typical remark the other day that went something like this:

"[As opposed to pretribulationists] we believe in a face-value of God's word and Jesus said that the rapture would happen immediately after the tribulation."

I can understand where they're coming from. After all, the disciples asked Jesus when all these things would be (the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple), the sign of His coming and the end of the world (age). Oh, and the rapture - don't forget the rapture. They recognized v 31 immediately as the rapture. It was foremost on their minds just before Jesus' ascension (Acts 1:6).

What happens after the tribulation?

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Mat 24:29-31

First note that this gathering occurs after the tribulation and after the signs. If the rapture is the gathering after the tribulation then it cannot cut the tribulation short. If the rapture occurs after the tribulation, after the cosmic signs and after the sign of the Son of Man; then it is also unlikely that the Great Multitude of Rev 7:14 has arrived via the rapture. It is more likely that this group of people is continuously arriving from out of the tribulation (See Robertson's notes).

How long is the great tribulation (Jacob's trouble)? See Dan 7:25, Dan 11:36, Dan 12:7, Rev 13:5 and Rev 12:14. It is 1, 260 days. Now that's a problem for Anderson's view right there.

Most importantly, why is the tribulation terminated? It is terminated otherwise no flesh would be saved (Matt 24:22). This flies in the face of the argument that Rev 3:10 means protection within (Gundry), rather than out of the time of trial. If God protects within, there is no reason for Him to terminate the great tribulation. That there are tribulation saints to be resurrected at Rev 20:4 also rejects that view.

What happens to the church at the rapture? According to 1Co 15:51-52 and 1Thess 4:16-17, the dead in Christ are resurrected and the living are glorified.

These verses suggest that the tribulation is brought to an end to preserve the "elect" in their physical bodies (flesh) in order to populate the millennium. To say that God intervenes otherwise no believers would remain alive to be raptured makes absolutely no sense within the context of Matt 24:22.

Matthew 23:39 & Hosea 5:15 state that Christ's physical return is contingent to Israel's repentance, and supports the former observation. The millennium must be populated with saved non-glorified Jews and Gentiles. If the rapture is the "gathering of the elect" then the remnant of Israel must also be raptured at the end of the 1,260 days.

Why then the need for a Sheep-Goats judgment? And who populates the millennium?

I mentioned Steve Anderson's popularity. Anderson has also produced anti-Israel videos which support Replacement Theology. These appear to be gaining popularity with some non-dispensational premillennialists. How sad!

One final thought:

I recently read a prewrath response to a scholar's denial of the rapture doctrine. The respondent offered up 1 Thess 4:17, John 14:2-3, Matt 24:31 and Rev 7:9-14 as proof texts. I can agree with the first two examples, although I'd like to point out that Marvin Rosenthal denied that John 14:2-3 were rapture passages. The reason was that he had Christ coming only once and then staying in the earth's atmosphere for the balance of the tribulation.

The last two examples are the result of circular reasoning for the reasons I gave above. There is no mention of a rapture or resurrection at Matt 24:31 or Rev 7 - these are assumed, as is the connection between these verses. In fact John Feinberg notes that many commentators "of various stripes" see the parallel between Zech 12:10 and Matt 24:29-30. It should be patently obvious that Israel is in view here (not the church). In context, the very next verse is its final gathering in the land as per OT promises.

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