A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Most Godly Christians do not Believe in the Post-Tribulational Rapture
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

A common response to the post-tribulational rapture viewpoint is that if this view is true and is of any importance it seems strange that God would not be more explicit and has allowed many of His choice servants, leaders, and teachers of the church to go astray in such a crucial issue. Well, actually, it is explicit. Jesus, quoted in Matthew 24:29-31 says: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, . . . 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." Then Paul says " For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). The most natural reading of these passages is to assume that they refer to the same event.

This, then, leads us to another question. If the timing of the rapture is so explicit and clear, why then do so many Christians believe it occurs before the seventieth week, rather than towards the end? Those who hold to the pretribulational rapture have written many books and have carefully analyzed the Biblical evidence. In many cases they make a persuasive defense of their position. I do not want to discredit the scholarship and the devotion of those who hold to that view. However, we saw earlier that God has designed His revelation in such a way that if a person does not want to accept the consequences of a truth then it is easy for the truth to become hidden. Wisdom must be searched out diligently "Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2:3-5) and one must be willing to obey the consequences of that truth "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself." (John 7:17), otherwise it will be hidden. That is why the Lord spoke in parables, to hide the truth from those who did not wish to receive it. "Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.(Matthew 13:13-15). This is consistent with the foundational design of our existence. The angels have no choice but to believe in the existence of God. Their choice is to submit to that God or to believe that they can somehow overthrow God himself. However, God has chosen to hide Himself from us humans. We see Him through faith, not through our senses. Biblical truth is the same. If we do not want to accept a given truth, it is easy to make it seem unclear.

As I have worked in the Christian ministry and in ophthalmology, I have learned that many times, logic is not the principle basis for making a decision. I believe that most, although by no means all, people make decisions based on emotions. People often look at the implication of a given truth and then accept or reject it based on the implications of that truth, not on the facts of the matter. In fact, to a certain extent, that is what faith is all about. We cannot prove with absolute certainty that what the Bible says is true. We do not know for certain that Jesus will be waiting for us on the other side of the veil of death. Otherwise, it would not be based on faith. However, I as an individual find that no other religion or system of belief offers me a more sure hope of living for ever, nor a more severe punishment for rejecting the conditions of that hope. I believe in the Bible because it gives sense to my life, even though it might just be wishful thinking. I accept Christianity, first of all, because I like what it offers me. No other religion or system of belief offers me a better chance at obtaining eternal life. There is no other reasonable alternative. Most people accept the free offer of salvation as their only hope and then work backwards to arrive at the reality of the means of salvation. Of course, this faith must be grounded on evidence, and the evidence for the redemptory life, death, and resurrection of Christ is strong, but evidence is not proof. Nothing can truly be proven, even in science, everything has to be accepted by faith, and often that is based, at least partly, on an emotional response.

I have found that most people I have met who have been taught the pre-tribulational position will not even consider that Christians might go through the great tribulation. I believe that they need to be shown that both points of view have implications, and that, considering that we are, indeed, emotional creatures, we will respond emotionally to these implications.

Therefore, ultimately, the reason many people do not believe in the post-tribulational rapture is the same as the reason which causes most people to not believe any given truth. The reason is that people do not like what it means if it means they must suffer. As a physician I often come across people who do not accept the reality of their medical diagnosis because they do not want to die, they do not want to diet, they do not want to have surgery, they do not want to use medicated eye drops every night day after day after day, they do not want to wait in a doctor's office, they do not want to pay thirty five dollars to see an eye doctor and would rather go blind (when I opened my office in Puerto Rico we were offering cash visits at $35 [U.S. dollars]). Then when they do go blind they are willing to do anything and pay anything and go anywhere to have their vision restored, but it is too late. These are real cases, people are like that, all of us are like that. I have not checked my cholesterol since I was 31 and I am now 43 because I know I have to diet and give up some of the foods I like and going hungry involves suffering. Christians like to live in a free country with economic opportunities and drive nice cars and live in safe clean orderly middle class neighborhoods with nice gardens and manicured lawns and go to beautiful churches with cushioned pews and air conditioning and send their kids to Christian schools with high academic standards and the latest textbooks.

We do not want to live under the types of conditions which will exist during the seventieth week. We do not want to live under a horrible dictatorship where poverty is rampant and people live in dirty little houses made out of mud or cardboard and people are dying of AIDS and other horrible diseases and hurricanes periodically wipe out half the houses on the island along with most of the electric wiring or tribes are exterminating each other or gangs and thugs frequently commit theft and murder and where people hate Christians and kill them. Yet a lot of the people in the world live like that right now right during the church age and Jesus Christ told us to go and tell them about gospel. Yet how many of us have even spent a week in places like that obeying the great commission.

I live only a hundred miles away from an island which contains a country like that, Haiti. A fairly mild earthquake hit and millions of people died there because no one followed the local building codes and no one heeded the warnings being given by seismologists that a major earthquake was about to happen. Here in Puerto Rico some missionaries from the United States are constantly complaining about minor irritants, and Puerto Rico is an easy mission field. We have Walmarts, and McDonald's, and expressways, and high speed internet, and cable TV, and beautiful beaches, and college educated people. They complain about having to wait in line in government offices for permits, about the electricity going for half a day when it storms and lightning hits the electric distribution system, they complain about traffic, about lack of American food, about people not talking to them even though some missionaries do not even bother to learn Spanish before coming here. That is the attitude of the Christians who are most committed to the great commission because they at least left their home towns and comfortable jobs to spread the gospel. What about the ones who do not even do that? I knew a lady who told a group of us that she could not do mission work because she could not sleep without her 300 count bed sheets (these are fancy sheets with 300 threads per inch of fabric).

However, we should see the seventieth week not as a great trial but as a great opportunity. First of all, if current trends continue, more people will be alive at the beginning of the seventieth week than in any other period of world history. In fact, more people may be living at that time than lived during all the rest of the church age put together. Those people will need to hear the gospel. Even though great multitudes will reject Christ and die during that age, great multitudes will be saved. This is clear from the passages describing the multitudes in heaven who come out of the great tribulation. Those who prepare will be able to better serve God and assure themselves of more rewards in heaven. Jesus said "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods." (Matthew 24:45-47). Those who prepare and obey the great commission now appear to be afforded some protection during the seventieth week. Those who do not obey the great commission now will be forced to do so by the trials and upheavals of the seventieth week. Jesus is so interested in motivating His servants to be ready for Him when He returns that He promises to come forth and serve them a great banquet. "Let your loins be girded about, and [your] lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed [are] those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." (Luke 12:35-37) This is an amazing passage which emphasizes the rewards associated with being prepared to serve the Lord shortly before His coming.

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