For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.JOHN 5:22-30
We are looking at how the Judgment of God works. If you have not read previous parts of this study, we have linked to each one at the bottom of this article and invite you to read them.
There are three views of Pre-Millennialism: Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation and Post-Tribulation. These are based on the rapture (catching, seizing) of the Church to be with Jesus forever. We’ve looked at the Pre-Tribulation view and the Mid-Tribulation view(s). We move now to the Post-Tribulation view.
The word Post tells us that this particular view of the rapture occurs after or at the very end of the Tribulation period. The Tribulation period ends and Christ returns (Post-Tribulation). Whereas the Pre and Mid Tribulation Rapture views present the idea that the rapture and return of Christ to earth are separate events, the Post-Tribulation view presents the idea that the rapture and return of Christ occur at the same time. Pre and Mid Tribulation raptures view Christ’s coming for His Church as secret in the sense of it being unseen by the world. The Post-Tribulation rapture view believes Christ returns once visibly for the entire world to see.
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.Matthew 24:30-31
Post-Tribulationists believe that what the Apostle Paul described in 1 Thessalonians 4 is the future resurrection of those who have died in Christ to join Christ in the clouds and immediately return to earth for the beginning of the Lord’s Millennial reign.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 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 4:16-17
Post-Tribulationists also believe that’s what Paul was pointing to in 1 Corinthians 15.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:50-57
Post-Tribulationists believe that what we read in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians occurs at the same time as Revelation 19:11-21. Heaven opens, Jesus mounts a white horse and “in righteousness He judges and makes war.” Along with Jesus will be “the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” following Him on their own white horses. Jesus will “strike the nations And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.” Jesus will tread “the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” and establish His Millennial reign on earth.
As we read the context of the verses 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15, we do not see Paul write anything there about the Millennial reign following the rapture (catching up, changing from corruptible to incorruptible in the twinkling of an eye). If he had written something that connected the rapture to the immediate physical return of Christ to earth, then we should have no need to discuss this further. The Post-Tribulation view would have its finished support in such a case. However, since Paul did not connect the two we must continue our search for the correct view.
Israel and/or The Church?
Pre-Tribulation and Mid-Tribulation views consider the secret return of Christ to be for the Church, His Body. Most in those camps believe Christ’s physical return at the end of the Tribulation is primarily for Israel. The Post-Tribulation view considers the single, physical return of Christ to be for His Church and to establish His Millennial reign on earth. We might think of it as a two-stage return of Christ (Pre and Mid Tribulation views) and a one-stage return of Christ (Post-Tribulation view).
Much of the discussion falls to whether the Old Testament prophecies and what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 were for Israel or for Israel and the Church. The Post-Tribulation view is that the prophecies are for both Israel and the Church. Pre and Mid Tribulationists would say that the only way to get to that view would be to deny the dispensational distinctions between Israel and the Church. Is it Israel and the Church, or, Israel or the Church? Let’s look at this in more detail.
Daniel’s prophecy concerning the return of Messiah was addressed to Israel. That’s clear to see as we read Daniel 9 and the 70 Weeks prophecy (verses 24-27). What’s clear to us is that the angel Gabriel came from God with an answer to Daniel’s prayer.
… yes, while I was speaking in prayer, 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.Daniel 9:21-23
Since Gabriel had come from God in answer to Daniel’s supplications, we need to know what Daniel prayed that led to God sending the angel to help the prophet “understand the vision.” We find the prayer in Daniel 9:2-20. Here’s what Daniel prayed about Israel. Notice the references to Israel, Jerusalem, the empty sanctuary (the Temple), Judah, Law of Moses, the prophets of God, kings and princes of Israel, fathers and people of the land of Israel, brought out of Egypt, the people called by God’s Name, sins of the people of Israel and the holy mountain of God. Notice also that no other nation or people are mentioned in Daniel’s prayer. He lived in Babylon and had served as one of the nation’s governors, but Daniel only mentioned Israel and the people of God in his prayer.
- I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
- we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.
- Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
- O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
- O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
- We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
- Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
- As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.
- And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
- O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.
- Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.
- O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.
- O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.
- Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, 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.
It should be clear from reading Daniel’s prayer that the answer Gabriel gave him would address the prophet’s concerns about Israel, the people of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem. That’s what we see in the angel’s answer in Daniel 9:24-27. Look for words that address Israel, Jerusalem and the Messiah specifically:
- 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.
Even as Daniel’s prayer addressed his concerns about Israel and Jerusalem, Gabriel’s answer addressed those concerns and brought encouragement about the coming of Messiah the Prince to rescue Israel. Messiah would be “cut off, but not for Himself.” That was prophetic of Jesus’ death on the Cross. The people of “the prince who is to come” would destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (Temple). The “prince who is to come” would confirm a covenant with many for one week (seven years), but would bring an end to sacrifice and offering in Jerusalem “in the middle of the week.” Gabriel spoke of that as being “abominations” of one “who makes desolate.”
We read more about this in another vision Daniel received, as he described in detail in chapters 11 and 12. The abomination Gabriel said would happen “in the middle of the week” is referred to in 11:31 and 12:11 as “the abomination of desolation.” The vision gave Daniel even more information about this Tribulation event:
“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
This is what Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:15-16 ..
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.
Jesus went on in the same context to tell His disciples that what would happen after the ‘abomination of desolation’ would be a “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” (Matthew 24:21-22). Those days will be shortened by the glorious return of Jesus Christ to “gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). He said that His physical return would be “as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west” (Matthew 24:27).
So, what about Jesus’ prophecies concerning His return? Did He have in mind just Israel or Israel and His Church. When He said that He would “gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” did He mean the elect of Israel or the elect of Israel and the Church? Pre and Mid Tribulationists would answer that the elect Jesus had in mind in Matthew 24 is Israel, while those Paul wrote about to the Thessalonians and Corinthians who would be “caught up” would be the Church . The Post-Tribulationist would answer that the elect Jesus had in mind in Matthew 24 is Israel and the Church. It can’t be both, so which one is it? We’ll address that in more detail next time.
We will continue to look at the case for the Post-Tribulation view of the Rapture in the next part of our special series “God’s Judgment: How It Works.”
If you have not read all of the parts of this study we’ve published so far, we invite you to do that now for the Scriptural background to Christ as Judge.
- Part One
- Part Two
- Part Three
- Part Four
- Part Five
- Part Six
- Part Seven
- Part Eight
- Part Nine
- Part Ten
- Part Eleven
- Part Twelve
- Part Thirteen
- Part Fourteen
- Part Fifteen
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.