But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matt 24:36-39


There are certain scriptural keys that the Lord gave us in order to understand and anticipate the three great events of the last days, i.e., the Great Tribulation, the Rapture of the Church, and the Return of our Lord to rule and reign on the earth. Jesus himself referred us to what transpired in the days of Noah, trusting that this would enable us to prepare ourselves for these things. Although He plainly says that we can never be exact in our prognostications, it is evident that the Lord did not intend that we should be caught unawares. Otherwise, He would not have given us so much prophecy concerning these things.

I do not wish to demonstrate that we are in the last days. I assume that the reader is already persuaded of that. What I want to do is to establish a scriptural timetable of these three events. I am aware that we can never know the day nor the hour, but Jesus did not say that we could not know the approximate time. As a matter of fact, if He did not wish us to know the approximate time when He will return and when these other events will occur, why did He give us so much information about it? Thus, I will approach this from the standpoint that He has given us enough data to know very closely when these things will happen and that things will become more clear as we approach the time.

Although it is not necessary to know or understand doctrine in order to be saved, it is certainly advantageous. The more we know about the Kingdom of Christ, the more we can defend ourselves from the assaults of Satan. A right view of eschatology will protect us from the dangers of unreasonable expectations and arm us mentally and spiritually to meet those dangers that are predicted for the last days. For this reason we will examine the principle theories of eschatology and then I will advance in some detail the theory that seems to me to be the most reasonable and scriptural. And we must always keep in mind that the Holy Scriptures, and the Holy Scriptures alone, must be the only foundation upon which all eschatological theories are to be built. Any other foundation is sinking sand.


This particular theory is held by the majority of evangelical believers and is that which dominates the views of most of the television prognosticators, i.e., the Lalondes, Jack Van Impe, John Hagee, Hal Lindsey, etc. This theory accepts all of the scriptural indications that the church will be raptured before the Great Tribulation, but it has not one single scripture to verify that the Rapture will take place before the seven years of tribulation of the Book of Revelation. In other words, it has no way of demonstrating that the Great Tribulation is the full seven years of Revelation. We will briefly examine some of the reasons given for this theory's acceptance.

Most of the proponents of the pre-seven-year-tribulation Rapture use Rev 4:1 to demonstrate that this is when the Rapture occurs. But a careful reading of that verse reveals only that the Lord told John to come up to heaven to view the future events. The voice said to John, "Come up hither." It did not speak these words to the church nor to anyone else. There is not the least reason to assume that this is spoken to the church nor is there the least reason to assume that this is when the Rapture occurs, except that it would be very nice and convenient and safe if it did occur here. But wishful thinking is not scriptural proof.

Hal Lindsey, in his book There is a New World Coming, further justifies this view on page 78 by pointing out that the word church does not appear in the Book of Revelation from Chapter 3 until Chapter 22. I would like to make two observations concerning this. First, silence can never be used as a proof. The absence of information is not information. In other words, silence can never be used either pro or con in an argument. Second, since the word Jew does not appear once in that same portion and the word Israel only appears once (and that in regard to the 144,000 chosen out of the 12 tribes), one could use the same argument to prove that there are no Jews on earth during that time and that the nation of Israel does not exist then. But I happen to know several Jews and the map shows that Israel does indeed exist.

Now we know that there will be Jews on the earth during that seven year period and we also know that the state of Israel will still be here then. And since we are told in Revelation that there are many killed for their testimony of Jesus, it seems to me that we can imply that the church will be here as well. Hal Lindsey wants to believe that these are people saved after the Rapture, but I see no justification for this view except an a priori acceptance of the pre-seven-year-tribulation theory, which is the worst kind of circular reasoning. In addition, in Rev 13:7 we are told that the beast is given power to make war against the saints (agios in the Greek) and to prevail over them. Now this term saints is used principally in the New Testament to refer to the members of the church. Thus, we may conclude that the church is yet present in the world at this time. However, I do not say that we can prove it because, once again, silence is a proof of nothing.

Let us examine one more argument put forth by Hal Lindsey. On page 77 of that same book he titles a section Will the Church go through the Tribulation? Let me quote one paragraph:

“I personally believe that the Bible teaches the Church will escape these calamities. Although believers may well experience severe persecution as the day of Christ’s return draws near, I believe Scripture teaches clearly that believers will be kept from the “time of trial” which God will send upon the world to try unbelievers (Rev 3:10).”

As I see it, there are two things wrong with his analysis. First, this does not justify the idea of a seven-year­great-tribulation period. It only tells us that there will be a period of great tribulation, of which I am in agreement. I agree that God promises to save us from that time of great tribulation that He is going to bring on the world. But Rev 3:10 does not identify itself with the whole seven year period of Revelation. As I will discuss later, this could refer only to the seven vials which occur toward the end of the seven year period.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, Mr. Lindsey misrepresents what the Lord says in Rev 3:10. Note that Mr. Lindsey says, “God will send upon the world to try unbelievers.” That most certainly is not what Rev 3:10 says. It says, “which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Please notice that it does not say unbelievers, it says all who live upon the earth. So there is no way of knowing from this verse who they are that will be tried. In addition and as a matter of fact, this promise in Rev 3:10 technically only applies to those Christians that fall into the category represented by the Church at Philadelphia and not the whole body of Christian believers. If anything, it tends to show that not all Christians will be taken out at the Rapture, but only those that meet the high standards of that particular church. So it is my opinion that his argument does not stand up to logical scrutiny and can prove nothing.

There is the view held by Morris Cerullo as expressed in his Proof Producers video which states that God would not bring His tribulation judgments on His children and, therefore, the Rapture must occur before the terrible judgments listed in Revelations, i.e., the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven vials. Now I agree with Mr. Cerullo that God will not pour out His judgments on His own children, as is evidenced by His deliverance of Noah and his family before the Flood and Lot and his family before the destruction of Sodom and the deliverance of the Israelites from the Mosaic plagues on the Egyptians. It is evident that these were indeed God's judgments. But the Book of Revelation does not ascribe the tribulations of the seven seals and the seven trumpets to God. As a matter of fact, it is very plain that many of them come from the hand of man and the others are natural disasters; as for instance, wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, etc.

However, we can be certain from the 14th chapter of Revelation that the seven vials are judgments from God's hand because it is plainly stated that they are God's judgments poured out on the sinful world without any mixture of mercy. There is no doubt that the church will be spared those judgments because we could not be exempted if there is no mixture of mercy. But one cannot say with a certainty that we will be spared the tribulations of the seven seals or the trumpets since, as was pointed out above, these do not appear to be judgments from God's hand. It must be remembered that Christians have always suffered tribulations and Paul even warned the new believers that we must enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation. Acts 14:22. One must carefully guard against seeing to be true what one wants to be true.

The same argument that says that God would not pour out his judgments on the church would also hold true for the converts during the seven years tribulation. If, as it says in Revelations, God will pour out His judgments on the world without mixture of mercy, would He pour out those judgments on His children born during the tribulation period? Would He have no mercy on His own children, most of whom had not received Christ through no fault of their own? I think it incredible to think that the church before the seven years is spared but the church during the seven years is not.

The final reason given by the pre-tribulationists that we will examine is a statement by John Hagee. Mr. Hagee quotes Joseph Good, a Jewish man who knows much about Jewish customs, concerning the Jewish marriage procedure. He says that if one learns about the Jewish wedding it is plain that the Rapture takes place seven years before the Lord returns to the earth. Let me only say that nothing can be found in the scriptures about the Jewish wedding and the way that it was conducted. The one unique thing about the Bible, the one thing that sets it apart from all secular books, is that it is totally self-contained. It completely and totally explains itself. Every definition, every view, every explanation about its doctrines and prophecies are found in itself. One never needs to go outside of the Bible to know what it is saying. Since there is nothing in the Bible about a seven day marriage process, I must reject this as evidence because it is not scripturally based. Doctrine must be backed up by Scripture alone.

Joseph Good has made a thorough study of the Jewish festivals and customs and has come to certain conclusions. He points out that the feast of Rosh Hashanah, which occurs on the first day of the seventh month, is typical of the Rapture of the church. He further asserts that the Jews celebrate this feast on two consecutive days. Then he says that the next seven days are called the Awesome Days. Finally, on the tenth day we have Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, which according to Mr. Good, corresponds to the physical return of Christ. He then points out that according to Jewish custom the Bride and Bridegroom have a seven day honeymoon before they make a public appearance. Thus, he concludes that there is a seven year period between the Rapture of the Church and the Return of Christ.

This is a very interesting analysis and deserves some attention. First, I think that I must point out that his whole analysis is not scriptural. According to Moses in the Book of Leviticus the feast is not called Rosh Hashanah, the new year, but it is called the Feast of Trumpets. I don’t know when the Jews began to call it Rosh Hashanah, but that is not the scriptural name for the feast and seems to change the whole significance of it. It is more than likely that they began to call it that after the dispersion. Second, the Bible does not command a two day observance of this feast but only a one day observance. And the Bible says nothing about the seven days prior to the Day of Atonement being called the Awesome Days.

So what can we conclude about Joseph Good’s analysis. We have to conclude that it may be interesting, but it is of no significance. Nothing about it is scriptural. It is obvious that these feasts have been vitiated since God delivered them to Moses. In other words, they have become just that—Jewish customs. Since the dispersion the Jewish religious leaders over the years introduced many observances and changed many things that actually applied to the temple but could no longer be observed. As a consequence, one must be very careful about trying to apply Jewish customs to the significance of prophecy.

The danger of acceptance of the pre-tribulation theory of the Rapture is that, if it is not correct, one may not be prepared to see the Antichrist when he appears on the world scene. If we believe that we will be taken out before the seven year period of Revelation, we will be unprepared for his appearance and the suffering that we must face. Then in the heat of intense suffering many weak believers would feel betrayed by the Lord and perhaps even stumble and fall or, even worse, accept the Antichrist.

It is interesting and amusing, and unheard of among Christians, that I wish that this theory would be correct, even though I don't believe it. Oh, how comfortable for me it would be. I do not like the idea of suffering and seeing my loved ones suffering as a consequence of the terrible things that are predicted to take place. I do not like the idea that my children and grandchildren may be afflicted with radiation poisoning, or anthrax, or that they might starve to death. I do not relish the idea of passing through the horrors that will come upon the earth during the seals and the trumpets. But I have never been one to convince myself of that which is not true simply because it is the easiest and the most convenient thing to happen. The truth will set us free, not a doctrine that tickles the ears. As much as I would like to believe this theory, I must reject it as without scriptural foundation.


This is a very interesting theory because I have found no scripture that would suggest that the Rapture occurs after the seven year tribulation period. As a matter of fact, there is no reason to have a Rapture except to escape from impending judgment, as in the case of Noah and Lot, the two examples that Jesus Himself refers to. Every argument that I have heard in favor of the post-tribulation Rapture is based on theological considerations and not on scripture revelation. Thus, I can say no more about it. I do not find it to be a viable, alternative theory.


As far as I can see, this is the only theory that is based on Scripture and it is for this reason that I hold to this as the correct theory. There are several New Testament scriptures that speak directly to that glorious event. So I will begin by quoting the two scriptures from the apostle Paul that all agree refer to the Rapture.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. I Thess 4:13-5:6

Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. I Cor 15:51, 52

I took the liberty of quoting a lengthy portion from I Thessalonians and of underlining the most pertinent part because it all pertains to the Rapture of the Church. Before we discuss the events that actually occur at that time, let us first examine some interesting statements. You will notice that Paul wanted all Christians to be aware of the Rapture. They were to take comfort in it because it includes the resurrection of friends and family members that had died. It is clear from other verses elsewhere that Paul does not think that he will be alive at that time, so that his statement “we that are alive” is not to be taken to mean that he expected the Lord to return during his lifetime, but only that there will be living Christians at that time.

Paul tells the brethren that the world will not be expecting this event because it will occur like the coming of a thief in the night. However, he does say that Christians will not be surprised because they do not walk in the darkness of night but in the light of day. From this we can take it that His coming will not be like a thief in the night to Christians. In other words, they will be expecting Him and watching for His arrival.

In addition, please notice that he describes the state of the world at that time as saying that it will believe that it is finally in a time of peace and security. But I want to emphasize that Paul plainly says that Christians will not be surprised nor fooled. In other words, they will know that it is near, even at the door. They will not be fooled by the seeming peace that will delude the rest of the world. So from all of this I take it that we ought to be able to know rather closely when the Rapture will occur.

To me the key to this whole mystery of the Rapture lies in the reference to the sounding of a trumpet. If the Feast of Trumpets is truly symbolic of the Rapture of the Church, as Joseph Good, among others, believes, then this fits right in because we are told in Leviticus that on the first day of the seventh month the people are to be gathered together in a holy convocation at the sounding of the trumpets. So it becomes obvious that the sounding of trumpets plays a key part in this thing. In addition, and most importantly, this feast is the only one that nobody can know for sure the day or the hour that it will begin because it could not begin until the Sanhedrin said so and they would not say so until there were witnesses to have actually seen the first signs of the new moon. So if the sky were to be obscured by clouds, it would delay the beginning of that month.

I do not believe in scriptural accidents. I believe that God designed from the beginning the role that the trumpets would play in this great event. We only know two scriptures for sure that deal with this profound event and that is the two that are quoted above. There are others that may be shown by argument that they probably refer to the Rapture, but only these two are certain. And in both of these we are told very explicitly that there will be the sound of a trumpet. And one of these verses goes a little farther and says that it will be at the last trumpet.

Now I do not think that anyone would disagree that a reference to “the last trump” implies that there were prior trumpets being sounded. Obviously, to have a last trumpet there had to be a first trumpet and very possibly a second and a third, etc. What I am saying is that the expression “the last trump” implies a series or a succession of trumpets. We cannot say with certainty just how many there are, but we can say with absolute certainty that there will be more than one. Although most prognosticators place little or no stress on this, I think that the reason is very obvious—they want to protect their own doctrinal belief.

It just so happens that there is only one place in all of the scriptures that have to do with the last days where a series of trumpets is mentioned, and that place is found in the Book of Revelation. Clearly, we are told in the 8th chapter of the Book of Revelation that, after the seven seals have been broken and there have occurred a series of catastrophes, seven trumpets are given to seven angels and they begin to blow the trumpets in succession. Each of these trumpets heralds a great catastrophe that comes upon the earth and its inhabitants.

At this point I would like to point out that the scriptures do not say that the catastrophes that occur in connection with the seven seals and the seven trumpets are judgments that come from God. As a matter of fact, many of these things come from the hand of man himself and many others are the natural result of what man has done. For example, man starts a nuclear war and then there is death from the hostilities. But, in addition, there is a considerable death toll from diseases, pestilences, and famine—things which always accompany war. It seems unfounded to me to say that these are judgments from God since the Bible does not actually say so.

We must always remember that the Book of Revelation is just that. It contains revelations to John of certain future events, but it does not necessarily say who or what caused them. It seems to me that after an examination of all of the things that occur when the seals are broken we can presume that these come under the heading of the wrath of man. Examining the events predicted under the trumpets, it appears that we could assign most of this to the wrath of Satan. We definitely know that what occurs under the vials is attributed to the wrath of God because we are told this in the 15th and 16th chapters of the Book of Revelation. Of this there can be no doubt.

Now this is very important because all of the pre-seven-year-tribulation Rapture people point out that God has promised to keep His people from the Great Tribulation. It is my contention that since Christians have always passed through great tribulations, i.e., the terrible persecutions under the Roman emperors and the awful persecutions under the Roman Catholic Inquisitions, they need not expect to be immune to the kinds of things that we see predicted under the seals and the trumpets. However, since Revelation very explicitly says that the vials are God’s wrath without mixture of mercy, we most assuredly would expect that God would deliver His people from that.

From the above we can say without hesitation that the Rapture must occur before the angels pour out God’s wrath from the seven vials. Now we must connect this to the trumpets mentioned in the two verses from Paul’s epistles. We do this by noting that when the seventh or last trumpet is sounded this brings on the seven vials. But before the vials are poured out, the Lord interjects some information in chapter 14. So let us look at this.

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Rev 14:14-19

There can be little doubt about it that the above underlined portions indicate that after the last trumpet is sounded the Lord shall descend and reap the earth. I do not know any other way to interpret this. Clearly, the one on the cloud is Jesus Christ and, just as clearly, He has come in the sky to reap. So the great question is, “Who or what is He reaping?” I think that the answer to that is to be found by examining the last half of the above scripture.

There is a second reaping by an angel who also has a sharp sickle. He reaps the earth and throws his reaping into the winepress of the wrath of God. It is clear from what follows that this is referring to the pouring out of the vials upon those that remain. After this the chapter continues the progress toward the end of these judgments. So we must conclude, according to the rule of contrarieties, that the first reaping is a reaping of saints and that they are taken out of the world into God’s blessings before the vials are poured out.

This view of the above quoted scriptures is further substantiated by the fact that in both Luke 21 and Matt 24 Jesus tells us that after many of the tribulations come upon the earth there will be a time when two will be in a bed, one will be taken and the other left; two will be grinding at the mill, one will be taken and the other left; and two will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Jack Van Impe says that this means that they are taken in judgment, not the Rapture. But this appears to me to be the kind of foolish interpretation that one makes when he is trying to save his doctrine. Luke makes it very plain that this is to be looked at in connection with Lot’s wife. Since that event is symbolic of the Rapture of the Church, these scriptures in Luke and Matthew must be talking about the Rapture. Thus, in Jesus’ description of the last days He tells us that the Rapture will occur toward the end of the seven-year-tribulation period.

Added to the above considerations we find that in the 24th chapter of Matthew it is clear that the event is referring to a time after the setting up of the abomination of desolation, which we know from the Book of Revelation is the midpoint of the seven year period. Please note that Jesus speaks of the abomination of desolation in Matt 24:15. Then in Matt 24:30-42 He is doubtless referring to the Rapture. Note especially the following verse,

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. Matt 24:3

We see that there is the sound of the trumpet and then a gathering from heaven and earth. So it is plain that this is the Rapture and that the Rapture occurs after the setting up of the abomination of desolation and this occurs at the midpoint of the seven year period.

We see that Mark reports much the same thing. In the 13th chapter of Mark we find that Jesus is reported saying about the same thing. First comes the great troubles that afflict Israel. Then in Mark 13:14 we have the abomination of desolation set up in the Temple. Then in Mark 13:26-28

And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

This gathering cannot refer to a gathering of the Jews to Israel from around the world because we are told that the elect will be gathered from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Obviously there is no way to gather living Jews from heaven to Israel. So this must be the Rapture because it is only at the Rapture that there is a gathering from both heaven and earth. And this must be toward the end of the seven year period because it is after the abomination of desolation is set up.

Let me add one more very potent scripture that clearly indicates that the Rapture does not occur until late in the seven year tribulation period.

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Rev 20: 4, 5

A careful examination of these two verses plainly shows 1) that these martyrs died after the mark of the beast was introduced, which means after the midpoint of the seven years, and 2) that they were in the Rapture because it says that they were in the first resurrection. Now it is clear that there is no resurrection until the Rapture and that we can then be assured that the Rapture is the first resurrection. So these martyrs were slain prior to the Rapture and sometime after the Antichrist introduced his infamous mark, which clearly does not happen until about the midpoint of that seven year tribulation period. With this evidence it is absolute folly to hold to the pre-tribulation Rapture theory. Unless we erase these two verses from the Bible, we must recognize that the Rapture does not occur until late in the tribulation period.

This is the strongest argument that I have ever seen for this doctrine. Nobody else that I have seen has ever put forth a truly scriptural argument for any other view. The best that they can do is put forth a sort of hope-so presentation without any scriptures whatsoever. I personally find this untenable, even though I truly wish that they could come up with something scripturally irrefutable. As I said earlier, I do not relish the idea of suffering. Thus, I wish that they were right so that I could miss it all. But I cannot hang my soul on wishes. And nobody else should either. If those pre-seven-year-tribulation Rapture people are wrong, I do not want to be numbered among them that are unprepared for what we would then have to endure.