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Systematic Eschatology, Part 2

Posted by Matt Postiff December 23, 2016 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Eschatology  Bible Texts  Dispensationalism  Theology 

We continue in our quest to carefully develop a sequence of future events as taught in Scripture. As we saw last time, such an eschatology must take the text in Revelation 20:1-6 literally.

When we do that, we immediately find deficiencies in other approaches. For instance, we find that we cannot take seriously any interpretive system that teaches a single general resurrection. The text of Scripture could not be more clear that there are two resurrections separated by 1000 years. There must therefore be at least two resurrections. The Bible may reveal more detail or even more resurrections, but there cannot be fewer than two. I think other interpretations are caught in the older revelatory information that says things like Daniel 12:2. The

It is also clear from a plain reading of the text that the Lord Jesus returns to the earth before the millennial kingdom and after the Tribulation. That is, His coming is premillennnial. That is how the sequence of events is portrayed by John in Revelation 19-20.

I did not spell it out in the last post, but I do hold to a futurist interpretation of most of the book of Revelation. The events described in the book after chapter 3 match nothing that the world has experienced in history up to this point.

Moving "backwards" in the sequence of events and to begin to answer the question about whether there is a pre-tribulational rapture of the church, let us shift our attention to Revelation 3:10. This text records a promise of Jesus that He will keep the church in Philadelphia from the hour of trial which is going to come upon the whole world. Contextually, it seems clear that this hour of trial refers to what is written in Revelation 6 through 19. I take this as paradigmatic of the church as a whole. Certainly the very believers in that church were kept from the hour of trial, since the Tribulation was yet future to them as it is to us this day in 2016. But their deliverance is a kind of pattern of the deliverance of the entire church from the Tribulation. Other texts of Scripture agree with this notion (1 Thess. 1:10 and 5:9).

The entirety of Revelation 6 through 19 support the absence of the church by its silence about the church. Granted, there are some believers present during the Tribulation. These people are converted during the Tribulation through the witness of God's messengers (Revelation 7 and 14). Their life is evidently difficult because of the persecution done by Satan. The marked silence of Revelation on the church makes it a fool's errand to prove that the church is present during the Tribulation.

There are a number of other supporting arguments for the pre-tribulation rapture. Among them are the nature of Daniel's 70th week focusing as it does on God's program with Israel, the consistent distinction of the church and Israel throughout the New Testament, the imminence of the coming of Christ (at the rapture) as contrasted with the signs that indicate that Israel's redemption is drawing near, the restrainer in 2 Thess. 2, the differences between a translation of believers and the coming of Christ to the earth, the 24 elders in Revelation, the proclamation of peace and safety in 1 Thess. 5:3, the lack of instruction about the Tribulation in the epistolary literature, Israel as the focus of Satan's attacks during the Tribulation (Rev. 12), and the complete apostasy during the Tribulation. These and more are detailed in chapter 13 of J. Dwight Pentecost's book Things to Come, pp. 193-218.

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