There are many different opinions throughout the churches as to if, how and when the “rapture” will take place. By “rapture” I am referring to that time when Jesus comes back for us and we will meet Him in the clouds, as described in Thessalonians:

“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

And it is further detailed in Corinthians:

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

Not even Jesus Himself knew when that moment would come:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” 
(Mark 13:32)


It is interesting that the word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible.  Theologians somewhere along the line decided to apply the term to the doctrine of the event. Whilst there are many different interpretations of the prophecy relating to the event, there appears to be common agreement in Christian theology that Jesus will return at some unspecified time to collect His followers.  From the scriptures above, it is thought the event will involve a removal of physical bodies from the earth, while those not in his camp will be left behind.

The timing of the rapture is commonly tied to the period known as the “Tribulation”, a time of extreme persecution and hardship for believers lasting seven years, during which the ‘Antichrist’ will rule the entire earth. The term of the rule is prophesied to last those seven years, divided into two periods, each three and a half years in duration.  Revelation 13:5 mentions only a period of 42 months (3.5 years), leading me to believe the first period will be a relatively deceptive lead-up to a complete take-over. A complete treatise of the Tribulation is not appropriate here. Read the book of Revelation if you want; it is a wonderfully enlightening piece of scripture. It stars some colourful characters, fit to rival Star Wars.  There is the Beast, the False Prophet, the Dragon, the Mother of Harlots and more, all figurative representations of the most vile powers this world will ever see, or has seen, all totally intent on wreaking as much havoc as they can and destroying as many of God’s followers as possible. 

The main doctrine regarding this time is derived primarily from the book of Daniel, plus things Jesus Himself told us in Matthew 24, supported by prophecies found in the Revelation to John.

As I am a firm believer in the ‘red writing’, words attributed to Jesus Himself, I will quote the relevant section in full:


“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" 

And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

"Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

"See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. 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. 

"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” 
(Matthew 24:1-42)


This entire passage has two clues as to when it might take place. One is the‘abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet.  It is therefore critical to understand what that means.  And in verse 34, Jesus says “This generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” Some believe this supports the view that it has already happened in the era of the early church, the Preterist view. (Ralph Woodrow calls it the Fulfilled view).  Others believe that when Jesus refers to ‘this generation’, He is referring to the generation alive at the time it starts, the Futurist view, believing the Tribulation is a future event.  And in the middle is the Historicist view, which asserts the 1260 years of church rule during the Dark Ages were the fulfillment of the Tribulation prophecy.


Some 500 years BC, Daniel lived in the time when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Israel and had a dream that his own wise men could not interpret. The king then called on Daniel and let him have a go, without so much as telling him what his dream entailed. God revealed both the dream and its interpretation to Daniel:


"But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.  You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome.  

This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.  You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.


This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.

You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all - you are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.  Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.  Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure."  
(Daniel 2:30-45)


Later in Daniel, the angel Gabriel reveals to him a timeframe for the future, generally referred to in theological circles as the “seventy weeks of Daniel”. By this time, the Babylonian kingdom has been overtaken by the Medo-Persian kingdom, ruled by a guy called Darius:

… the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.  And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:

"Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.  Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.

And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate."”
 (Daniel 9:21-27)


The ‘seventy weeks’ are the main substance of the interpretation of prophecy regarding the timing of the Lord’s return. The missing bits are filled in primarily from Revelation and other prophetic books. 


The following is an excerpt from H. L. Nigro’s summary on the interpretations by various Futurist schools of thought on when the blessed Rapture event will take place. It may be found on the website: www.strongtowerpublishing.com/positions.htm.

Basically it divides Futurist interpretations into the categories pre-tribulationism, mid-tribulationism, post-tribulationism, and pre-wrath.  (The position expounded above is obviously the pre-tribulation stand.)

“The pre-tribulation rapture position teaches that God's wrath will start at the beginning of this seven-year “tribulation” period; therefore, the rapture will occur before this period begins. The mid-tribulation rapture position teaches that God's wrath will occur midway through the “tribulation” period; therefore, the rapture will occur midway through this period, as well. The post-tribulation position teaches that God's wrath, and therefore the rapture, will occur at the end.

Recently, there has surfaced a new position, the pre-wrath position. Like the mid-tribulation position, pre-wrath teaches that the rapture will occur midway through the seven-year “tribulation” period (which is more accurately called the 70th Week of Daniel, from Daniel 9:24) but before God's wrath. The difference from mid-tribulationism is that, instead of placing the rapture at a nebulous “midway” point, it places the rapture in a specific, well-defined position in the timeline of end-times events (this is not date-setting — only determining chronological sequence).

There are also three other popular end-times positions today: the Preterist position, which teaches that all of the events of Matthew 24 (including the rapture) occurred in the first century, culminating with the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70; the Historist position, which teaches that end-times events have been fulfilled gradually throughout history; and the Amillennial position, which teaches that there is no literal millennium and that the teachings of Jesus on the end-times are symbolic only.”


(The Amillenium position, to me, seems way too much into symbolism, leaving the way open for never-ending varieties of interpretation and therefore of little use to any persecuted Christian or student of the Bible.  I have decided to not spend any time expounding this position.)

Under the Futurist interpretation, generally, it appears accepted within theological circles that Daniel’s ‘weeks’ are periods of seven years.  (In Hebrew language, ‘seventy weeks’ literally means seventy sevens or 490 years.) (Ref. “The Big Picture of Daniel”, M.A. Butler, for The Herald of Hope Inc.) :


•The seventy weeks commence on Nehemiah’s command to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple (see Nehemiah 2:1-8), which took place on 14th March 445 BC, the 10th day of Nissan in the 20th year of Artaxerxes.

•The first seven weeks (49 years) take us to the point of restoration of the Temple, as well as the close of the Old Testament with Malachi, in 397 BC.

•The next sixty-two weeks (434 years) bring us to the year Jesus presented Himself to the nation of Israel as the Prince Messiah, on Palm Sunday, 6 April, 32 AD, exactly 483 years after Nehemiah’s command (the Jewish calendar had only 360 days, not 365)!

•There is now only one week (7 years) to account for.


Looking back on history, it appears fairly certain that the first four kingdoms are the following:

•Head of gold: Babylon (606-536 BC) 

•Breast and arms of silver: Medo-Persia (536-332 BC) 

•Belly and thighs of brass:Greece(332 - 63 BC) 

•Legs of iron:Rome(63 BC– 476 AD)


From here on it becomes a little less definitive.  It is surmised that the influence of Rome on the world never ceased, but it became diluted by other powers:

•Feet of iron and clay:Papal Rome(600 AD – Rapture)

And then there are the ten toes, smashed by a stone not cut out by hands.  This stone becomes a great mountain which fills the whole earth.  These are interpreted as indicating future kingdoms:

•Ten Toes:Rule of the Antichrist

•Mountain filling the whole earth:The Millennial Rule of Christ


The interpretation is corroborated by another vision in Daniel 7:7 describing a beast with ten horns, which “devoured and crushed” the four great beasts that preceded it. The ten toes are also tied to the prophecy in Revelation 17:12, describing the last stage of the Roman rule comprising “ten horns … (which) are ten kings”, from which the final world ruler will emerge.  

In order to satisfy the requirements of Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, seventy “weeks” (490 years), it is necessary to accommodate anindefinite period (GAP) between week 69 (483 years) and week 70 (7 years, or two lots of 1260 days) that doesn’t count overall.  This period is referred to as the mystery “Church Age” in which we live now, and it is the main argument for ‘pre-tribulation’ rapture – those who support this view believe Daniel’s prophecies are aimed exclusively at Israel, not Christians. Hence, Christians cannot be present on earth during the rule of the Antichrist in the 70th week. Within the constructs of this interpretation, those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour will be removed before the ‘Tribulation’; then the 144,000 Israelites (some believe this to be a metaphorical number) in Revelation 7:4 and 14:1, after finally accepting Jesus as the promised Messiah, will evangelise those left behind, targeting particularly Israel itself.

The moment of ‘abomination of desolation’ is believed to occur halfway through the seven-year Tribulation, the rule of the Antichrist.  This bad guy is understood to set himself up in the re-built Temple and declare himself to be divine, demanding to be worshipped.  (For those alive at the time, it will at least give them a guide as to how long they are likely to need to hold out.) It is apparent the Temple needs to be re-built, probably by the Jews, as daily sacrifice will need to be re-instituted before it can be taken away again. The time of it being taken away would set the clock ticking.

Daniel 7:25, supported by Revelation 12:6 and 14, talks about a period of “time, times and a half”. This is regarded as meaning three and a half years on the Jewish calendar, or 1260 days. It is believed to be the time of worst persecution ever, the second half of the Tribulation.

The Futurist position gets into substantial trouble from a further prophecy Daniel made, which is very specific, time-wise:


"And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days." (Daniel 12:11)

Had the 9 been a 6, no doubt the passage would have been interpreted as further enhancing the description of the first three and a half years of the rule of the Antichrist.  Unfortunately it is thirty days too long. It seems more likely, (and in line with weeks interpreted as periods of seven years), that Daniel’s intention was years. However, the passage does give some substance to the belief that the practice of daily sacrifice has to be re-instituted before it can cease. And maybe it ceases thirty days before the Antichrist gets control of a new world government.

Whether it is days or years, there is no way we can reach a future Tribulation if we start counting from Christ’s resurrection.  It explains why so many other interpretations are in the offing.


The Preterist position appears based partly on that one statement by Jesus that ‘this generation’ would not pass away before it happened.  It was an interpretation expounded by the Spanish Jesuit Luis De Alcazar, to counter the Historicistinterpretation proposed by Martin Luther (explained below) accusing the Roman Catholic Church of being the ‘beast’ of Revelation. 

There are numerous variations of all the positions.  The Preterist view includes both the Full and Part Preterist positions. (The Full-Preterists believe that Jesus has already returned, and that we are in the ‘thousand year reign’ right now.  I have great difficulty accepting that particular assertion, in this age of progressively increasing apostasy).  Basically, the Preterists say all Daniel’s prophecies were fulfilled in the first century. 

Under the position, the seventy weeks commence on the return of Israel to their homeland in 457 BC.  The difference of seven or eight years between this and the Futurist interpretation is there to accommodate the fulfillment of Daniel’s 70th week in Jesus’ time. The start of the 70th week equates with Jesus’ baptism, when the Holy Spirit descends on Him.  After three and a half years of ministry He is crucified, replacing forever animal sacrifice with His blood and ushering in a whole new way of relating to God.  The second half of  the 70th week is considered to be a period of witnessing the Gospel exclusively to Israel.  Their rejection of God’s message then results in the Gospel being sent to the Gentiles, commencing the end of the seventieth week, around three and a half years after Pentecost.

May I say here that there appears to be no real scriptural justification for the claim that there is an unaccounted for ‘gap’ between the 69th and 70th week. The ‘gap’ seems to be the product of convenience to suit Futurist interpretations, rather than letting the scriptures stand on their own. The more I research, the more I am leaning towards the view that Daniel’s seventy weeks were fulfilled in the first century.


A number of churches, including the Seventh-Day Adventists, believe Luther’s assertion that the 1260 days (their interpretation is years) have already taken place. They believe 1260 years refer to the ‘dark ages’ during which the Vatican ruled the nations of Europe and was responsible for horrendous atrocities and persecution of Protestants.  Those in this camp claim, (with some real merit mind you), that both the Futurist and the Preterist positions were developed by Jesuits (Francisco Ribera and Luis De Alcazar, respectively) to take the heat off the Roman Catholic Church.


“And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.” (Revelation 13:3)

“And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”(Revelation 13:12)

They start counting years from the time Rome was disempowered (the beast receives a fatal wound), in 476 AD, was reinstated in 538 AD (the wound miraculously healed), and take 1260 years to get to 1798 AD, when General Berthier took the Pope captive and proclaimed a Roman Republic in place of the Vatican. 

I’m not real sure why suddenly Daniel’s ‘days’ or years are no longer counted in lots of 360.  At the time of the prophecy, 360 days measured a year.  Take 5 days off each of the 1260 Gregorian years, and we end up with a calendar year around 1781, leaving the interpretation in tatters.  They leave an indeterminate period between 1798 and the Rapture.  They say the Tribulation has already taken place and therefore Jesus can return any moment. 

A rather good article on “Historicism vs. Futurism”, by Pastor Irvin Baxter Jr., can be found on the website: www.PreteristArchive.com.

He makes a rather convincing argument for Futurism.  Ralph Woodrow, in his book “Great Prophecies of the Bible”, on the other hand, makes a very strong argument in favour of Historicism.  But both parties ignore vital scriptures. Woodrow never mentions Daniel 11: 30-31. Baxter criticises Woodrow for his view on Daniel 9:27, but doesn’t state his own.



Who knows? I think it is very dangerous ground to assume a dogmatic position on any of the views.  

After all this research, I believe that Daniel’s seventy weeks were fulfilled by Jesus, bringing an end to daily sacrifice. The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems to argue for a ‘gap’ between the 69th and 70th week of a prophecy that makes no mention of such a gap.  That heathen forces were involved in bringing about the end of sacrifice (Daniel 11:30-31) shows God will use anything available to bring about His will.  It means that the rebuilding of the Temple and the reinstitution of daily sacrifice, (just so that it can be taken away again, and in open conflict with the finished work of Calvary), are signs of the times many Christians are probably looking for in vain.

What is definitely, unarguably certain, is that Jesus IS coming back.  Why? Because He said so!

I am also convinced that the Tribulation is a future event that all Christians alive when it comes will have to endure, but there is a real possibility it will only last three and a half years, rather than the commonly accepted seven. I am sure the Rapture will take place after that rule of the Antichrist is over.

It means that Daniel’s prophecies in Daniel 9:27 were never intended to apply to end times. And that’s where I get into real trouble.  Jesus Himself quotes Daniel in Matthew 24 as having relevance to the end of the age.  Maybe Daniel 9:27, Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11 address unrelated events. Jesus warns us to watch for the ‘abomination of desolation’ at that time.  The only plausible explanation I can come up with is that this abomination could be something that has been a recurrent potential sacrilege from the right from the beginnings of the church, from the creation of the constantly growing new Temple of the Holy Spirit, made out of people, not stone (Ephesians 2:21-22).

There will be a future “abomination of desolation”, involving some desecration of His Temple:


"Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. " (2 Thessalations 2:3-4)

I believe every age has seen an Antichrist and Tribulation of some sort. The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD by the Roman armies of Titus.  From a Christian perspective, daily sacrifice was abolished when Jesus died and rose again. From a Jewish perspective, daily sacrifice is probably still essential today, as they are still waiting for their Messiah. In Old Testament days, abomination of desolation occurred when pagan cultures offered sacrifices to others gods on an altar belonging to Yahweh. It was blatant desecration of a holy site, stirring Yahweh to anger. From the time of Pentecost, it has been possible to desecrate God’s new Temple, by means of born-again Christians having other gods before Him.  Those gods can comprise anything more important than He is.  

The ultimate end-time apostasy could well involve the Christian Church compromising its stand for Jesus by inviting those worshipping false gods into our midst. The start of this can already be seen throughout Western culture.  It would be a humanistic church, made up of all religions, probably undoing the value of Christ’s sacrifice by ascribing validity to the concept of salvation without Him. Maybe this will prove to be the greatest “abomination of desolation” of all time …. 

(As Jesus said, “whoever reads, let him understand …”).



Will the Rapture happen before, mid-tribulation, or at the end?  Personally, I really hope the pre-tribulationists are right!  No one in their right mind would fancy going through the Tribulation. I am no more a sucker for punishment than anyone else. But there are some elements of scripture which I cannot reconcile with this belief.

1. The first problem I have is that the 144,000, twelve thousand of each of the twelve tribes of Isreal, are referred to as ‘first fruits’ (Revelation 14:4), which, to me, indicates they are raptured before the Christians, so not available on earth to evangelise those left behind.  

2. The second is that I can’t find a place in scripture where their preaching efforts are described.

3. The third is that the only indisputable NT reference to the timing of the Rapture appears in Thessalonians, “at the last Trumpet,” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and, if you read John’s words carefully, the last (seventh) trumpet sounded in Revelation seems to describe the return of Christ perfectly. It occurs either roughly half-way through the Tribulation, or at the end, depending on whether you believe the seven bowls/plagues of God’s wrath are poured out during, or after, that period:


‘Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" ’ (Revelation 11:15)

The seventh trumpet is significant in Hebrew culture, because when they escaped the clutches of Pharaoh and were on their way to the Promised Land, every time they pulled up camp in the desert, they all had to be ready to go on the sounding of the seventh trumpet.

4. The fourth problem I have to deal with is again found in John’s book of prophecy:


‘After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"  All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. "’  (Revelation 7:9-14)

If there is a great multitude in heaven which no one could number, who have all come out of the great Tribulation, I think it is highly unlikely the scripture is describing solely converts made during that dreadful time and must include other Christians.

(It seems to me that Revelation is not strictly chronological. I think the sequence of seals, woes, trumpets, bowls and plagues probably do occur one after another, but descriptions of heavenly events may not fit exactly into that earthly timeframe.)

5. The fifth problem comes from Jesus’ own warnings:


"Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), ………… And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened."(Matthew 24:15, 22)


Jesus was obviously very familiar with the prophecies made by Daniel.  And He took them seriously. Are Christians included in the “elect”?  I would have thought so.

6. A sixth problem is the reference to the ‘saints’ during the Antichrist’s rule:


“So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.  Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.  It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” (Revelation 13:4-7) 

(Check out also Revelation 13:10 and 14:12)


Personally, and with the benefit of hindsight, I think all positions have substantial problems.  And under the Futurist position, terminating the ‘Church Age’ beforethe start of the Tribulation is a rather very large leap to make.  Most interpretations do not appear to me to be based on all the available scriptures relating to the event, selecting only those that support a particular viewpoint. 

There is that great enigma, about just when the last or seventh trumpet will sound. The seventh trumpet is sounded after the second woe (Revelation 11:14-15), with a third woe still in the offing. After that trumpet, the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth from seven golden bowls (Revelation 16:1), containing seven plagues.  Is this period part of the Tribulation? If it is, then it would seem reasonable to assume Christians will be raptured before the end of the Tribulation and not bound to endure the entire seven year rule of the Antichrist, meeting Jesus in the clouds before the rest of the world sees Him. If it is not, then it is reasonable to expect the Rapture to coincide with Christ’s return at the end of a Tribulation lasting only 3 ½ years, all eyes seeing Him at once.  I have always believed we would be ‘taken up’ half way through a seven year rule, but never to the point of being prepared to put any money on it. After this study, I’m starting to lean towards the view that the time of sorting the “sheep from the goats” will last half as long! And that God’s wrath will be poured out on the remnant of unrepentant civilization afterwards.  (But still not prepared to put any money on it!)

We have a tendency to try to fit current events into the constructs of prophecy, eagerly looking for its fulfillment. The first Christians expected Jesus to come back in their lifetime. During the Roman oppression it made total sense they were the Antichrist.  While the Vatican burned heretics and witches on stakes, who could have argued against it being the Tribulation in progress?  Early last century, the Antichrist was going to come out of the Stalinist regime.  During World War II, the Antichrist would no doubt prove to be Hitler himself.  After the War, with students of prophecy trying to put all the elements together, the Pope was going to be the baddie again.  Some still think that.  The European Union, when it had ten member countries including Italy, looked like it was going to fulfill the prophetic requirements of the ten kings. That was, until it got its eleventh subscription.  I believe it now has around 25 or 26 members!  At one stage, the likely bad guys were the Communists. And after that the Unions. Or the Asians. Now it looks almost certain it is the militant Muslims.

May I say that current world events do seem to give strong indication that the end is near. With extremist Islamic terrorists sworn to eliminate both Jews and Christians alike, with an unprecedented scale of Middle East conflict and with overwhelming political and technical challenges of all sorts facing governments worldwide, it would not be unreasonable to think this is ‘it’. 

It was pointed out to me by a dear friend that the generic term ‘Jews’, understood by the general population to refer to Israelites, is actually technically incorrect. Strictly speaking, Jews are descendants of only one of the twelve tribes of Israel, those of the tribe of Judah. The rest of the tribes were dispersed and lost sometime in history. This brings up implications way too complex to address in this essay, but will be the subject of a later one. It has huge ramifications in the fulfillment of prophecy regarding the return of all the tribes to their homeland.


Whether Christians will be exposed to the tyranny of the Antichrist, or not, is debatable. I sincerely hope the pre-tribulation advocates will prove to be right, and that all Christians will be taken up in the Rapture before the real trouble starts.  However, at this stage of enlightenment, I would opt for the pre-wrath position, but at the end rather than midway, unfortunately meaning at least three and a half years of tribulation for all Christians alive during the reign of the Antichrist.  Unless, of course, they take your life, or make your faith crumble. If we were truly able to determine the exact chronology of that event in advance, we would know more than Jesus Himself.


“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” 
(2 Peter 3:10)


We need to live as if that day could be at any time. If it happens in our lifetime, will our personal relationship with Jesus be strong enough to survive years of extreme trial, leading up to that day? Will we be prepared to be martyred for our faith, as many of our brothers and sisters have been over the centuries? Will we be strong enough in our faith, and sufficiently familiar with the Truth of the Gospel that we can quote scripture to Satan, like Jesus did?

Will we be ready when it happens?