Will the Church enter the Tribulation years?
This is an important question and the differences between a yes or no answer are nothing short of horrific. I do not exaggerate the consequences.
There was a recent terror incident in Egypt which typified the type of consequences the church will face if she is to go into the tribulation.
Coptic Christians killed
A busload of Egyptian Coptic Christians were on their way to visit a Christian historical site. Their pleasure trip was interrupted by a band of Islamic terrorists. Initial reports indicated the terrorists sprayed the bus with gunfire killing all or most within the bus. Later reports revealed a more chilling reality. The gunmen forced the bus to stop and ordered the passengers to disembark one at a time. When each passenger reached the bottom of the short set of stairs they were asked one question.
Are you a Christian?
The answer to the question determined whether they would live or die. Those who answered yes were met with the business end of a gun. Their life was ended the moment they affirmed their faith in Christ. Young and old, elderly or child, was shown no mercy. This group of Church goers was met with a harsh reality. Life as a Christian is hazardous and potentially short-lived.
This is one of numerous examples of the perilous life of a Christian in today’s more ‘inclusive’ culture.
Back to the point
Will the church enter the tribulation years when this type of persecution will reach never-before-seen levels?
Let’s define two terms before we go further.
Church: The church is referred to as the bride of Christ. All members of the true church are those who have admitted to their own sin, and accepted the offering of Christ on the cross as their redemption or payment of sins. As sinners, entrance to heaven is forbidden unless one admits to sin and accepts God’s terms of entrance. God’s grace allows us sinners to enter His glory.
The Tribulation: The tribulation is a seven-year period of time that finishes the plan of God to make amends for the mess humanity has inflicted upon His once perfect world. God made the earth then gave it to humanity, and we dropped it—broke it into a few million pieces. God will come to the rescue at the end of approximately, if not exactly, 6,000 years. (That number is a flash point of contention which I will address later.)
In this seven-year period God will unleash the seven seals, trumpets, and bowls of wrath upon the unrepentant sinners who refuse His grace. It will be “times up”. No more time on the clock to delay judgment. There is much more that I can go into regarding defining and detailing this final seven years, but let’s leave it at this for now. Its seven years before Jesus cleans this mess up and starts over. Yes there is some good news in the story.
What about that rapture thing?
The rapture, which many have heard about, is the time in which Jesus will appear in the clouds and will call the church to join Him in the clouds to then be with Him forever.
1 Corinthians 15:52-53
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will (the Christian Church alive at that moment) be changed, for this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
The Christians who have passed away will be raised from death and the living Christians will be instantaneously changed into something (eager to see what) that will be able to inhabit heaven and live forever.
The current debate among many within the church is this.
Will the rapture happen before the seven years of tribulation begins?
I was taught, faithfully accepted, and then often re-taught that the church would leave for heaven before the big trouble began.
Let’s look at a bible passage that challenges that belief.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the rebellion (falling away) comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. (This is the Antichrist) who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”
This passage begins with a reference to the gathering of the church, both living and dead, to Christ in the clouds as was promised.
That’s a big butt!
But there is an alarming truth taught here by Paul. He says this ‘day of the Lord’ can’t happen until the rebellion or falling away happens and the man of sin is revealed and sits in the temple of God.
This presents a problem for those who teach that the church will be gathered up to heaven in the rapture before the tribulation begins.
Abomination of Desolation
What Paul describes is the event the bible names ‘The Abomination of desolation’.
According to Daniel 9:27 “in the middle of the week” (the seven years of tribulation) and Revelation 12:14 “time, times, and half a time.” (One year, two years, and a half year.)
The bible uses hard to understand phrases and terms at times. These are two of many such instances. There will be a final seven-year period to finalize God’s initial plan. The last 3 ½ years is broken into terms such as the one seen above. I will address this in a later post.
But I want to finish with the big butt of this argument. If, as Paul says, the gathering of the church can’t occur until a great rebellion or falling away and the revealing of the Antichrist then the church will at minimum reach the mid-point of the tribulation.
Chew on that for a while and let’s talk again.