by Marvin Rosenthal
June 1990 Paperback Edition
The following summary is based on Chapter Ten of Marvin Rosenthal's book, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. This book is currently out-of-print but used copies can be ordered from Amazon.com.
There is a debate going on among Christians over the timing of the Rapture of the saints. The Rapture is that instant in time when the Lord Jesus Christ appears in the clouds of the heavens, and calls all His followers to come up to heaven to be with Him. According to scripture, the dead in Christ will be raised first, and then we who are alive and remain will join them in the clouds to be forevermore with the Lord. (See First Thessalonians 4:16-17)
The fact of the Rapture is not in question (at least not among Christians). However, there is a question over when the Rapture will occur. Most Christians believe it will occur immediately before the tribulation period begins. A few Christians believe it will occur either during the tribulation period, or near the very end of the tribulation period. (The tribulation is a seven year period of time preceding the thousand year reign of Christ on earth.)
The most logical way to address this issue is to see what the Holy Bible has to say about this event. Christians believe the entire Bible is the true and accurate Word of God, and it is without error. Therefore, it should be used to answer the question of when the Rapture will occur. One word of caution, however. Do not rely on footnotes added to your Bible. A biblical footnote is not the inspired Word of God, even though it is printed in your Bible. It is simply one person's interpretation of scripture. With that caution in mind, let's take a look at the 24th chapter of Matthew and the book of Revelation.
In the 24th chapter of Matthew, Matthew recorded the words of Jesus when He replied to the question His disciples asked Him, "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" The book of Revelation records the words of Jesus when He revealed unto John the events of the end times. By comparing these two books, we can uncover some important clues as to the timing of the Rapture.-------------
Matthew 24:3 "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world."
Comment: This verse establishes the context of the following verses of scripture within the book of Matthew.-------------
Revelation 6:1-2 "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer."
Matthew 24:4-5 "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
Comment: The opening of the first seal is normally interpreted to be the beginning of the tribulation period when the AntiChrist appears on the scene in his full glory. In the book of Matthew, Jesus warns His followers to be on the lookout for this person.-------------
Revelation 6:3-4 "And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another, and there was given unto him a great sword."
Matthew 24:6-7a "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:"
Comment: In both Revelation and Matthew, Jesus says that immediately after the appearance of the AntiChrist there will be a period of war.-------------
Revelation 6:5-6 "And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny, and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine."
Matthew 24:7b "and there shall be famines,"
Comment: In both books, Jesus tells His followers that a severe famine will follow the war, and a day's supply of food will sell for a full day's pay (a penny was a day's wage in those days).-------------
Revelation 6:7-8 "And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."
Matthew 24:7c-8 "and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
Comment: Anyone who has studied history and the events that follow a major war knows that a period of famine normally occurs after the war, and a period of disease and death follows next. When people become weak due to the lack of food, diseases their bodies could have easily withstood when they were healthy, are now able to kill them. This is precisely what Jesus says will happen in both books of the Bible.-------------
Revelation 6:9-11 "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them, and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
Matthew 24:9,14-15,21-22 "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. ... And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) ... For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
Daniel 9:27 "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
Revelation 2:10 "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Comment: The book of Daniel gives us a clue as to the timing of this fifth seal. Daniel mentions that in the middle of the seven year period, the AntiChrist will try to establish himself as God upon the earth. At that time, Christians will be slain in large numbers. This passage of scripture makes it very difficult to hold the view that the Rapture will occur before the opening of the first seal. If there are no Christians left on earth, where do all these new converts come from? Who, of their own accord, without the witness of a fellow Christian, would be willing to accept the Christian faith if that meant they would be immediately slain? If all the Christians are Raptured before the first seal is opened, then there would be no Christians around at this time to lead the unsaved to Christ. How, then, can we explain the presence of a large number of Christians at this point in time?
The most logical way to account for them is if the Rapture hasn't happened yet. All the preceding events (war, famine, disease, and Christian persecution) are things that Christians have faced many times over the past 2,000 years. There is no logical reason why we should be spared from facing them again today.
Revelation 6:12-13, 7:1-4 "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. ... And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, ... Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."
Matthew 24:29-33 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
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.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."
Comment: In both Revelation and Matthew, the signs are the same. Notice also the parable of the fig tree in both books. Remember that Jesus is the one who is revealing these events to both John and Matthew, and He uses almost the same terminology even though these two revelations are separated in time by at least forty years. Notice also that this is the first appearance of the 144,000 witnesses. They were not present prior to this time to convert others to the Christian faith.-------------
Matthew 24:40-42 "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not the hour your Lord doth come."
Revelation 7:9 "After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands:"
Comment: In the book of Matthew, after the sun and moon are darkened, the Lord returns for His followers. In the book of Revelation, a great multitude of Christians, from all over the world, suddenly appear in heaven. For someone with an open mind, these two descriptions are almost identical to what we Christians call the Rapture of the saints. Notice also that this reference to the Rapture in the book of Revelation occurs right after the 144,000 Jews are ordained to spread the Gospel. God does not want anyone to perish, and he has provided a way for the Gospel to be carried forth after all the new testament Christians are Raptured.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 "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."
Comment: The above verse adequately describes the event that we Christians commonly call the Rapture.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 "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 day should overtake you as a thief."
Comment: The disciples asked Jesus for signs of His coming. Why would Jesus then give them specific details about His return if none of His followers were going to be alive on the earth when those signs came to pass? In the above verse, Paul tells us the Rapture should not overtake us as a thief in the night. He is confirming what Jesus told His disciples. When we see the signs that Jesus spoke of come to pass, then we should be prepared to either be slain for our Christian faith, or to be Raptured into heaven, if we survive the time of Christian persecution.-------------
Revelation 8:1-2 "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour."
Comment: The seventh seal will include God's wrath on an unbelieving world. Christians will be spared from that wrath. That is why they will be Raptured sometime after the opening of the sixth seal and before the opening of the seventh seal.
Note: The entire 70th week of Daniel is commonly referred to as "The Tribulation" by many Christians. This is a poor choice of terms for Daniel's 70th week, because it easily leads to a misunderstanding of other passages of scripture. The first six seals deal with Satan's persecution of mankind. The seventh seal is the pouring out of God's Wrath on an unbelieving world (from which Christians are spared).-------------
Conclusion: My intent in writing this brief summary was not to convince you of when the Rapture will occur. My purpose was to provide you with more information upon which you can make an informed decision. I encourage you to purchase and read Marvin Rosenthal's book, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. He does an excellent job of explaining many other scriptures which help to clarify when the Rapture will occur. His book is not based on personal opinion. It is based on the Word of God. You owe it to yourself to read Marvin Rosenthal's book so you can rightly divide the word of truth.