In our daily meditations on Scripture over the last three weeks, we have been focusing on signs of the Second Coming of Jesus, signs that lead up to the most fabulous event ever for Christians—that of the catching up (rapture) of God's people, the true church of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). After believers are taken up, then comes the wrath of God, a time when men and women outside of Christ, as we said yesterday, will try to find caves and places where, if it were possible, they could hide from the wrath of Almighty God. God is watching the rampant evil taking place on the earth, and there will be a day of justice and judgment. There are many scriptures of the wrath of God being poured out after the catching up of believers; here is just one:
6Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 7Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. 8Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. 9See, the day of the LORD is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. 10The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. 11I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. 12I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. 13Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger (Isaiah 13:6-13 Emphasis mine).
After reading this description of the Day of the Lord, who can doubt that this is the wrath of God? The Day of the Lord is the day of His wrath (v. 13). How then can some say that this time of God's wrath is going to last seven years and that the rapture is before the Great Tribulation? If the wrath of God written about above continued for seven years, how come Antichrist will be able to exercise his authority for 42 months (Revelation 13:5) and make war on the saints? (Revelation 13:7), while at the same time God is supposedly pouring out His wrath such as written above? No, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in my opinion, there is no pre-tribulation rapture. The rapture and the wrath of God don't take place before the seven-year period starts—we have to prepare for and endure the tribulation first.
The tribulation is not the wrath of God; it is a persecution of God’s people by the Antichrist that takes place before the Day of the Lord, persecution that will be met by an outpouring of the Spirit bringing remarkable miracles of provision, healing, etc. (Joel 2:28-31). So if you are a believer, it is time to wake up out of sleep, trim your lamps, and prepare for the nighttime as in the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25).
To summarize, then, there is a seven-year period with an event at the mid-point that Daniel and Jesus called the Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:15; Daniel (9:27; 11:31; 12:11). An event Daniel described as a desecration of the Temple, and the apostle Paul also described as a man of lawlessness parading himself as god in the temple of God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). This desecration of the temple begins a time of persecution (the Great Tribulation) of God’s people. At some point in the second half of the seven years (no man knows the day nor the hour), the Lord will intervene and rescue His people, snatching them up to Himself, and then begins the wrath of God, also known as the Day of the Lord. May all who read these words find themselves among those caught up (raptured) into Christ’s presence to ever be with the Lord. By God’s grace alone, I hope to see you on that day. What a Day that will be! Keith Thomas