Different Rapture Views

Indian Hills Community Church

Center for Biblical Studies

Greg Rugh

1000 S. 84th St., Lincoln, NE 68510 (402)483-4541  Fax (402)483-6716


I. The Postribulational (posttrib) View

A. Definition: “Postribulationism teaches that the Rapture and the Second Coming are facets of a singe event which will occur at the end of the Tribulation when Christ returns. The church will be on the earth during the Tribulation to experience the events of that period” Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 500.


B. Differences within the Postrib position


1. “The first view within postribulationism is that of “classic postribulationism” This view holds that the church has always been in the Tribulation because, during its entire existence, it has suffered persecution and trouble. The Tribulation is not a future event but an ongoing present reality. In this view, therefore, the events of the Tribulation are not understood in a literal or futuristic way.” Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy, p. 190.


2. “A second view is that of the “futurist posttribulational” position. In the twentieth century the futurist approach became the major view within posttribulationism. George Ladd in his book The Blessed Hope promoted the idea that there was a future period of seven years that immediately preceded the Second Coming. These seven years of tribulation would be experienced by the church before it was removed from the world at the Rapture, which would occur at the Second Coming” Ibid. p. 191.


C. Support for the Posttrib Position


1. The historical argument: This position is one that is held because the pre tribulation view is viewed as “new.”


2. The nature of the Tribulation period: While there is a difference of opinion on the length of the tribulation, there is basic agreement on the fact that the church was promised persecution and tribulation. Since the church is clearly promised tribulation, there is no way to say that it will escape the tribulation period. However the church will be preserved in this time of tribulation, but it will not be removed.


3. The nature of the church: Another line of argument used by posttribulationists deals with the nature of the church. “Generally, postribers have not held to a clear distinction between the church and the nation of Israel in God’s program. Rather, they tend to include believers of all ages in the church. Since believers are certainly seen in the tribulation period, they conclude that the church is clearly there also. However, if a clear distinction is made between the church and Israel, then a pretrib view becomes far more likely.” Ibid. p. 194.


4. Return of the Lord Terminology: “A fourth argument comes from the terminology used in relation to the return of the Lord. The three key words apocalypses (“revelation”), epiphania (“manifestation”), and paousia (“presence”) are seen as strong indicators of a posttrib position.” Ibid. p. 194-5.

As far as a posttrib is concerned, all these words refer to the second coming of Christ. As believers this is our hope, this is what we are to be looking forward to. If all these terms refer to the second coming, then it is logical for the church to be present in the tribulation.


5. Denial of the Doctrine of Immanency: If the Lord’s return can happen at any time as defined by pretribulationism, then the posttrib position is in trouble.


6. Interpretation of Matthew 24-25: “A sixth argument is based on the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24-25. It is believed that Matthew 24:31 is especially important. Here they claim to find a conclusive statement that the Rapture takes place at the end of the Tribulation in connection with the Second Coming.” Ibid.


D. Response to the Postribulational Position


1. Historical argument: While it is acknowledged that the pretrib position is new, this does not mean that it is wrong. Furthermore, precise thinking about eschatology is a recent development in itself (last 100-150 yrs.). So to single out the pretrib position is not really fair or accurate.


2. Nature of Tribulation argument: “There is agreement among all the rapture views that the church has not been exempted from persecution and tribulation (Jn. 16:33). The word tribulation is used here by the Lord Jesus in a nonmechanical, noneschatological way. Mark 4:17; Roman’s 5:3; 2 Corinthians 1:4, all speak of persecution for the church. But there is a great difference between persecution and the Great Tribulation. It is one thing to say that the church will experience persecution and quite another to say that it will go through the time of God’s wrath.” Ibid. pgs. 198-199.


“Why would God want His people to experience His wrath? The church’s Sins would have been taken care of by the work of Christ on the cross, and judgment for sin is no longer a future expectation of believers (Jn. 5:24).”


a. 1 Thess. 1:10, word “from” denotes separation


b. 1 Thess. 4:13-18


c. 1 Thess. 5:9-10


3. Nature of the Church Argument: The question arises, for what purpose does the tribulation come? If you see the church and Israel as distinct, then it becomes quite clear that the tribulation is a time of “Jacob’s trouble” and not a time of the “church’s trouble.”


a. “If a radical disjunction between Israel and the church is assumed, a certain presumption against the posttribulational position exists, since it would be inconsistent for the church to be involved in a period of time that, according to the Old Testament, has to do with Israel.” Douglas Moo, The Case for the Posttribulational Rapture Position, p. 171.


b. Daniel 9:24-27


c. The absence of the church in Rev. 6:19 and Matthew 24-25


4. The Terminology Argument: “The key argument for the posttribulationist has to do with the terms and events found in the Rapture and Second Coming passages. For Moo to establish his position it is imperative that he demonstrates that these passages refer to the same event and the same time. If the posttribulationist can demonstrate that Rapture and Second Coming passages are s similar that they must be seen as identical, then other rapture positions become possible.


Some Differences between the passages: Rapture (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-55; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Second Coming (Joel 3:12-16; Zech. 12-14; Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19:11-21).


a. In the Rapture passages the Lord Jesus returns in the air and translates (changes) all believers, whereas in the Second Coming passages He returns to the earth, and there is no translation at all.


b. In the Rapture passages Jesus returns to heaven (the “Father’s house”) with the translated saints, whereas at the Second Coming Jesus returns with the Saints to the earth.


c. No mention of the kingdom being set up in rapture passages, but discussion of the kingdom follows Second Coming passages.


d. In the Rapture passages no signs are given before this event can take place, although many signs are given as preceding the Second Coming.” Benware, Understanding Prophecy, p. 206.


e. One of the most glaring weaknesses in the posttrib view is the fact that there are “non-glorified” humans in the millennium. Rev. 20:8; 19:20-21


5. The Imminency Argument: With the word “imminency” one has to remember that it does not mean “soon.” There may be some events that happen before the Lord returns, but no certain event(s) must take place. In all other views of the rapture there are events that absolutely must take place before His Second Coming.


6. The Olivet Discourse argument: As we stated before, in the posttrib position the Second Coming and the Rapture are essentially the same event. The “elect” are gathered and a “trumpet” sounds in Matt. 24:31, the same occurs in 1 Thess. 4, so the events are the same.


a. But: A key point that must be seen in Matt. 24 is the Jewishness of the passage. Christ is directing His discourse to the JEWS, specifically His disciples, not the church. Christ is answering questions about Israel’s future and the millennial kingdom, not the church.


b. Just because there are trumpets and clouds in both instances does not mean they are the same.


c. Angels do the gathering in Matthew, the Lord Himself catches the believers up at the rapture.


E. Conclusion


The posttribulationalist position does not explain some very basic biblical questions. The most basic being; nonglorified bodies entering the millennium, and the promise to the believer to be spared from the wrath of God.


II. Midtribulational View

A. Definition: “The midtribulational Rapture view holds that the Rapture of the church will occur at the midpoint of the seven years of Tribulation. In this view, only the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week is Tribulation.” Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 497.


B. Basic Beliefs:


1. “The church has been promised persecution and tribulation, since all who live godly will experience such things, therefore the tribulation is in harmony with the calling of the church.


2. In both Daniel and Revelation the focus is on the last half of the Seventieth Week.


3. Some great event occurs at the midpoint of the Seventieth Week that dramatically affects life on this planet. It is concluded that this event must be the rapture of the church. Most midtribulationists have connected the Rapture with the sounding of the seventh trumpet in Revelation 10:7 and 11:15. This trumpet is said to be the same as the one that sounds in 1 Corinthians 15:52.


4. In this view, therefore, God’s wrath is poured out only in the second half of the Seventieth Week, known as the Great Tribulation. Benware, Understanding Prophecy, p. 218.


C. Problems:


1. There is the problem of immanence, because there are very clear events, such as the seals, and the signing of the peace treaty between the Jews and the Antichrist.


2. “The trumpets referred to in Revelation 10 and 11 are trumpets of judgement, whereas the trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15 is one of deliverance and resurrection.” Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 499.


3. The whole tribulation period is seen as the wrath of God (Rev.6:16-17). “In the heavenly scene of Revelation 5, the Lord Jesus is given the sealed scroll, which contains all the judgements of the Tribulation. It is Christ who breaks the seals and releases the judgement on the earth.” Benware, Understanding Prophecy, p. 220. There is no question that this whole period is divine wrath.


D. Conclusion


1. The midtrib view is weak for the reasons stated, and it does not have much of a following.


2. Since the idea of “imminency” is lost, and the church and Israel must be fused in order to make the mid-trib position work, it must be rejected.


III. Other Views (Pre-wrath rapture)

A. The “pre-wrath” rapture is just about the same as the mid-trib view with just a few minor adjustments.


B. Pre-wrath believes that believers will be raptured out of the world about 3/4 through the tribulation.


C. “Essential to this view is the division of the Seventieth Week into three major, distinct, and identifiable periods of time; The beginning of “birth pangs,” the “great tribulation,” and “the day of the Lord.” Ibid. p. 223


D. Only the “day of the Lord” is the wrath of God, and this lasts about 1 _ years, and includes Christ returning to earth four times.


E. Up until the coming of the “day” all is seen as the wrath of Satan, not the wrath of God.


F. Problems:


1. No where in the Bible is 70th week of Daniel broken up into “three distinct divisions.” Only two divisions are ever spoken of (Dan. 9; Mat. 24; Rev. 12:6,14).


2. The word “tribulation” is used to describe the entire 70th week of Daniel (Matt. 24:9). And “tribulation” is also used to describe “birth pangs” (2 Kings 19:3; Jer 6:24) , “sword, famine and pestilence” (2 Chron. 20:9; Acts 15:11).


3. The “day of the Lord” is associated with the whole tribulation period (Matt. 24:21; Dan. 12:1; Joel 2:1; Jer. 30:7). And the Day of the Lord is longer than 1 _ years (Joel 2:28-32; Zech. 14:1-21; Isa. 30:23-25).


IV. Pretribulational Rapture

A. In the pre-trib view of the rapture, Christians are “raptured” out of the world before the tribulation period begins. In the pre-trib position the “tribulation” is the entire 7 year period. (The term rapture means “caught up” I Thess. 4:17).


B. Definition: The Rapture “refers both to the translation of living believers from earthly mortality to heavenly immortality and to the resurrection of the corrupted bodies of believers to heavenly incorruption.” Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 478


C. Rapture Passages


1. John 14:3


2. Titus 2:13


3. I Corinthians 1:7


4. I Cor. 15:51-53


5. Rev. 3:10


6. *I Thess. 4:13-18


7. It is true that there are no versus that come out and say “pre-trib” rapture. But this does not mean that the Bible does not give us the information we need to come to the right conclusion.


D. More Support for the Pre-trib Position


1. The distinction between the Church and the nation of Israel: “The clearer the distinction made between Israel and the church, the clearer the necessity of pretribulational rapture of the church. The truth is that God is dealing with two distinct programs for two distinct groups.” Benware, Understanding Prophecy, p. 165.  Daniel 9:24; Romans 11:25-27


2. No purpose for the Church to be included in the tribulation: The main purpose of the tribulation is to bring Israel to the point of salvation, and readiness to accept the Messiah and His kingdom.


a. Daniel 12:1; Ezek. 20:37, show Jewish character


b. Dan. 9:24; Ezek. 25-36; Jer. 31:31-34


3. The Church is not destined for wrath: This should not be confused with “trials and tribulations” because the Bible is clear that the Church will experience these (1 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-16). But there is a definite difference between trials and tribulation and the wrath of God. If the entire seven year tribulation is indeed the wrath of God (which it is, Rev. 5, 6:1, 15-17) then 1 Thess. 1:9-10 and 1 Thess. 5:9-10 guarantees that the Church will escape.


4. The coming of Christ is imminent: “The word imminent is not found in the Bible but has become the word to express the theological idea of the ‘any moment’ coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word itself speaks of something that is about to happen.” Ibid. p. 175


a. James 5:7-9


b. 1 Thess. 1:10


c. Titus 2:13


d. Rom. 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 15:51-53


5. The differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming


“Rapture passages (1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; Jn. 14:1-3); Second Coming passages (Joel 3:12-16; Rev. 19:11-21; Zech 14:1-5; Matt. 24:29-31).


a. Rapture, we meet Christ in the air, Second Coming Christ descends to Mount of Olives.


b. No judgement found in any Rapture passage, but judgement is found and is emphasized in Second Coming passages.


c. No mention of millennial kingdom in Rapture passages, but it is also emphasized in Second Coming verses.


d. In Rapture verses believers receive glorified bodies, in Second Coming passages there is no one receives a glorified body.


e. Rapture is seen as imminent Second Coming is not.


f. At the Rapture the Lord returns to heaven, but at Second Coming Christ descends and remains on earth.” Benware, Understanding Prophecy, p. 180


6. The necessity of an interval of time between the Rapture and the Second Coming


a. Believers are to be rewarded shortly after His coming.


(1) 1 Pet. 5:4


(2) 1 Cor. 3:11-4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10


b. Marriage of the Lamb


(1) Rev. 19:7-9


(2) Eph. 5:27; Jn. 3:29


7. The lack of evidence for the Church’s presence in the Tribulation. Ekklesia does not appear in any of these passages.


8. Conclusion: The Rapture is always talked about in the context of Godly living, it is to be a motivator for us as believers, it is our hope. Christ could come at any time and this should compel us to live like Him. Secondly there are no signs that precede the rapture, therefore there are no signs to look for, unlike the Second Coming. My conclusion is a pretrib rapture is the most supportable and most importantly, the most Biblical.


V. The Tribulation Period

A. Terms


1. Day of the Lord: I believe that the term Day of the Lord refers to the period of the tribulation, the Second Advent, through the millennial period.


a. Support


(1) Rev. 6:16-17


(2) 1 Thess. 5:2


(3) Zeph. 1:14-18


(4) Zech. 14:1


(5) Joel 2:21-27; 3:1


(6) 2 Pet. 3:10


b. Conclusion: The Day of the Lord lasts approximately 1007 years, beginning shortly after the rapture and continuing until the New Heavens and New Earth are established.


2. The Seventieth Week of Daniel (Dan. 9:27) beginning in 445 b.c. and continuing for 483 years (the triumphal entry in 32 a.d.). One seven year period that remains for God to deal with Israel.


3. The Wrath of God (Rev. 5:6-7; 6:1; 1 Thess. 5:2). Note: the Wrath of God and the Tribulation are the same period (Matt. 24:6:-13).


4. The Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:7). This seems to be the second half of the tribulation, because Israel seems to be living in relative peace for the first half (Dan. 9:27).


5. The Great Tribulation (Dan. 9:27; 12:11; Matt. 24:15, 21). The Great Tribulation, like Jacob’s trouble, is the second half of the tribulation. Here it becomes a terrible time for the Jews.


B. Purpose of the Tribulation


1. “The first great purpose of the tribulation is to prepare the nation Israel for her Messiah. God’s purpose in the Tribulation is to bring about the conversion of a multitude of Jews, who will enter into the blessings of the kingdom and experience the fulfillment of all Israel’s covenants” Pentecost, Things to Come, p. 237. Ezek. 20:37-39; Mal. 4:5-6


2. “The second great purpose of the tribulation is to pour out judgement on unbelieving man and nations.” Ibid p. 238.




a. Jer. 25:32-33


b. Rev. 6:15


c. **Isa. 26:21


d. Rev. 16:9


3. The Time of the Tribulation


When we come to the timing of the tribulation the 70th week of Daniel becomes key. Here we are given the chronology of the final week (Dan. 9:24-27).


a. Right now there is a period of hardness on the part of the Jews (Matt. 23:37-39).


b. This “hardening” of the Jews will continue until the “fullness of the Gentiles comes in (Rom. 11:25) (Acts 13:46-52). The focus will be on the Gentiles until the 70th week of Daniel begins, and God again turns his attention to the Jews.


c. Events signaling the start of the 70th week (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:3- 9; Rev. 6).


C. Holy Spirit in the Tribulation


1. The Identity of the “Restrainer”


a. Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:6-8)


b. He is the “Restrainer” (Jn. 16:7-11; 1 Jn. 4:4). Just because the Holy Spirit is to be removed from the earth before the tribulation period begins, does not mean that He is no longer active at that time. Although some of His particular ministries would cease to go on (baptism, 1 Cor. 12:12-13; indwelling 1 Cor. 6:19; sealing, Eph. 1:13; 4:30).


2. Salvation in the Tribulation


a. With the Holy Spirit not functioning the same way in the Tribulation as He did in the Church, I think His outworking reverts to the way it was in the Old Testament.


(1) Jn. 14:17, 20


(2) Num. 11:17,25


(3) Judges 3:10


(4) 1 Sam. 10:6


(5) 2 Kings 2:15


(6) Ezek. 2:2; 3:24


b. I think the working of the Holy Spirit in the Tribulation will be much the same, with salvation still based on faith (Rom. 4), but without the permanent indwelling of the Spirit of God.


3. Events in the Tribulation


a. The Nation of Israel. “When the Tribulation begins, Israel is back in their ancient land. Ezekiel, along with other prophets, saw that in the end times the nation would be restored to their land by the Lord Himself (Duet. 30:4-5; Ezek. 20:40-44; 34:11-13; *36:24-26).” Benware, Understanding Prophecy, p. 255.


b. Breaking of the Seals

Scene in Heaven (Rev. 4-5) Lamb taking the scroll.


All judgments come directly from the seals.


(1) Seal #1 (Rev. 6:1-2). The Antichrist appears, already with a bow and a crown, goes out and peacefully conquers. Open warfare does not seem to break out yet, this could be the conquering of the three kings (Dan. 7:8, 24).


(2) Seal #2 (vs.3-4). At this point open warfare breaks out At the beginning of the Tribulation Israel seems to be living in relative peace because of the covenant (Dan. 9:24-27) and the sacrificial system is up and running. (Matt. 24:6-7). The “great sword” speaks of unprecedented conflict in the world. Probably more localized wars (ie. Iran vs. Iraq).


(3) Seal #3 (vss. 5-6). Famine ravishes the world, probably corresponds to the wars going on at the time. People will pay obscene prices for food.


(4) Seal #4 (vss. 7-8). The breaking of this seal is devastating to the world’s population. One-fourth the world will perish is this judgment by “sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beast.” These four judgments correspond to Ezek. 14:21.


(5) Seal #5 (vss. 9-11). This seal is different in that it focuses on a specific group of people, believers in the tribulation. This group cries out for vengeance. The Lord is in total control of who and how many are killed.


(6) Seal #6 (vss. 12-17). The sixth seal brings with it cosmic disturbances unlike any seen before. The word “earthquake” does not do the word justice, it literally means that the earth and the heavens were shaken, convulsions is another term that could be used. Sun will literally be darkened and the moon probably has a deep copper color which comes when observed through atmospheric conditions (Thomas). These events just add to the terror in the world. Asteroids hurtle through space to earth, word means large and small heavenly bodies. The result of these events is catastrophic to the human psyche. Hide themselves in caves and rocks, and they cry out to die. But this is only the beginning of “birth pangs” (Matt. 24:8).


c. The 144,000


(1) They are Jews from the twelve tribes. Indication that God’s focus has again turned to the Jews.


(2) Major events in the Tribulation do not occur until the 144,000 are sealed.


(3) The sealing is protection from the events to come and from death (Rev. 14:1).


(4) This is the major way that the Jewish nation and it’s tribes are protected through the tribulation. It is also how many people here the gospel and are saved. And many people are being saved (Rev. 7:9).


d. The 7th Seal

(1) Silence for [about half an] hour. Every judgement that follows, comes out of the 7th seal.


(2) The Seven Trumpets prepare to sound (Rev. 8:6)


(01) 1st Trumpet. The results of the first trumpet are catastrophic. Hail and fire mixed with blood ravage the earth, a third of the earth is decimated (vs.7).


(02) 2nd Trumpet. Third of the sea is destroyed, (probably by flaming mountain like object) it becomes useless for things like fishing. The resulting death from marine life and sailors probably causes the blood (vss. 8-9).


(03) 3rd Trumpet. Another object is hurled from heaven and makes 1/3 of the fresh water undrinkable (poisonous).


(04) 4th Trumpet. This trumpet does not immediately affect man. But a third of the light from the heavens is removed. This will have dramatic affects on things like agriculture, and the human psyche, but the worst is yet to come (vss. 12-13).


(05) 5th Trumpet. The last three trumpets are set apart by the three “woes” (vs.13). The fifth trumpet and the first woe brings severe torture to mankind. The locust that come from the abyss probably demons, don’t act like normal locusts, and they are able to inflict extreme pain on humans. This continues for five months, and men cry out to die but God forces them to live. They even have a leader who coordinates their efforts (Rev. 9:1-12). Graphic picture of God’s judgement for sin.


(06) Sixth Trumpet. The four angles (demons) prepared for this very moment and they are given the power to kill a third of the earth. The identity of the 200 million is hard to establish, although they are probably a demonic group (notice the descriptions of the horses in vs 17, 19). This group could also be humans with modern warfare equipment that John is at a loss to describe. However, despite this mass destruction men refuse to repent of their sin (vss. 20-21).


(3) The “Two Witnesses”


(01) Moving to the second half of the tribulation (11:3)


(02) These two will prophesy with the authority of God


(03) They will have incredible powers (vss. 5-6).


(04) Could be Moses and Elijah (Mal. 4:5;Matt.17:10-13


(05) They are killed by the Anti-Christ (Rev. 11:7)


(06) Israel believes as a result of their resurrection (11:13).


(4) The Seventh Trumpet


(01) Just as the “seventh seal” housed the trumpets, out of the seventh trumpet is going to come the seven bowls.


(02) The seventh trumpet looks forward to the time of Christ’s rule (11:17). But the worst is still yet to come for the world, the Seven Bowls are on their way.


e. Prelude to the Bowl Judgements


(1) First we are given some background to the bowl judgements that goes back to the rebellion of Satan, and Rev. 13:1; 17:10-13. Continues through history until the Second Coming of Christ (12:1-14:20).


(2) Chp. 12 gives an overview of times past and times to come.


(3) Chp. 13 tells of the rise of the beast, his mortal wound and recovery, and how the world will worship him. The false prophet helps achieve this through signs and wonders.


f. *The Seventh Trumpet leads into the second half of the Tribulation. From the Seventh Trumpet the Seven Bowls come forth.


g. Other Events at this time in the Tribulation


(1) Invasion of army of north ( Ezek. 38) into Palestine. At the point of this invasion Israel is living at peace (in unwalled cities (38:11). The Beast and the revived Roman Empire will go to defend Israel because of the Covenant that had been signed in Dan. 9:27. However, he does not need to fight because the Lord supernaturally destroys the armies of the North. This makes the Beast the most powerful man in the world and leads to Daniel 11:36.


(01) *How do we know that the Roman Empire is going to be revived?


a) Daniel 2:33; 7:7-8


b) Rev. 17:12


(02) There will be one man who rules this empire


a) Dan. 9:27; Dan. 7:8


b) Rev. 13:3-8


c) Rev. 17:12-13


(2) The Casting of Satan from Heaven


Rev. 12:7-9, 13-17


(3) Abomination of Desolation. Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15-25; *Rev. 13:2-8


(4) Rise of the False Prophet. Rev. 13:11-15 (cf. Matt. 24:24) This “Beast” is a key figure in the deception of all the nations. He uses this power to promote the Anti-Christ.


(5) Intense persecution of the Jews, their time of peace is over as the Beast sets himself up as king (Dan. 11:36-39, Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:27; Rev. 13:7)


(6) Two witnesses appear on the scene (Rev. 11:3). They have incredible powers and survive until the Beast kills them at the appointed time (Rev. 11:7). As we come to the mid-point of the Tribulation all the above has taken place. The Anti-Christ is ruling, the armies of Ezek. 38-have been destroyed and this opens the door for the beast to set himself up as king. Satan has been cast from heaven and knows his time is short. Now the Abomination of Desolation is set up, and with the help of the False prophet he deceives and rules the world. A large portion of the Jews have fled Jerusalem and are hiding in the mountains as the “Bowl” judgements are about to commence.


h. The Seven Bowl Judgements


(1) Revelation 15:5-8 gives the scene in heaven as the bowl judgements are about to be released on the inhabitants of the world. They seem to come in rapid succession and their plagues seem to continue until the Second Coming. The Bowl Judgments build on the previous Seal and Trumpet judgments. Still in the “wrath of God” (vs.7).


(2) The 1st Bowl Judgment (Rev. 16:2). Malignant sores come upon all of mankind who have chose to worship the beast and his image (cf. Exd. 9:9-11). These sores are not curable, and they cause excruciating pain.


(3) 2nd Bowl Judgment (vs.3). In Rev. 8:9 a third of the sea and the creatures in it were destroyed, now the sea becomes worthless. After the 2nd bowl there will no longer be life in the sea but it will be thick and congealed. Obviously this is catastrophic for those who lively hood is linked to the oceans.


(4) 3rd Bowl Judgment (vs.4). As this third bowl is poured out the rest of the fresh water becomes blood, or a blood like substance. This water probably has a foul odor and will for surely be decayed. This will only add to the panic in a already panic stricken world. The reason for this plague is given in verses 5-6.


(5) 4th Bowl Judgment (vs.8). This bowl is directed toward the sun. This is different than that judgment of the fourth trumpet which darkened the sun, now the sun is made more intense. The heat produced by this plague is unbearable, the people of the earth are burned and their skin probably blisters. Note: Notice the reaction of the people of the earth. They refuse to repent, they hate God so much that they will not repent even to save themselves. Instead they blaspheme God.


(6) 5th Bowl Judgment (vs.10). The fifth bowl in focused on the beast and his kingdom, his kingdom is thrown into disarray. This is like the ninth Egyptian plague but it is much worse and it will encompass a large portion of the world.


Verse 11 is proof that these plagues do not go away once the bowl has been poured out, the men of the earth who have received the mark are in utter agony from everything that has come upon them. How this darkness adds to the pain is unclear, part of it is hard to understand because the world has never seem anything like this before.


Men continue to blaspheme and curse God. This is late in the tribulation and shows the hopeless situation of man kind. Even after all they have been through God still is not an option.


(7) Sixth Bowl Judgement (vs. 12). When the sixth bowl arrives its purpose is to dry up the Euphrates river which has long been a major barrier to any army from the east trying to make it’s way westward. This army of the east probably brings men mostly from the orient, they are coming to wage war with the beast. These are the rumors that he hears in Daniel 11.


Verses 13-16 expand on verse 12. We see that not only are the armies of the east preparing for battle, but forces from all over the earth are being assembled for the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” Verse 16 gives the place where these armies will be focused, Armageddon. I believe that this is where Ezekiel 39 fits into the picture as the armies of the north have gathered themselves again for war against the beast.


(8) 7th Bowl Judgment (vss. 17-21). The seventh bowl brings with it unparalleled catastrophes. This bowls destination is the “air” and makes this the most pervasive of all the judgments. God says “it is finished” this is the last of the bowl judgments, and the tribulation is about to come to an end. This bowl precedes the opening of heaven and the coming of Christ for the final climatic battle of the tribulation. A great earthquake unlike anything the world have ever seen rumbles through the earth, and it’s destruction is immense. This earthquake literally splits Jerusalem into three parts (this quake could be related to the one in 11:3 in which Israel turns to the Lord). The earthquake is world wide, and also affects the cities of the “nations.”


Verse 20 states that things are so bad that there is no place to hide, the earth is in chaos and not even the mountains exist, or are adequate for shelter (note difference between this and 6:15). Hail stones (vs.21) of 100 pounds slam into the earth, and still man refuses to repent. The scene has been set, the armies are being gathered, and their hatred of God grows, Armageddon is coming.


4. Babylon Falls


a. Who and what does Babylon signify?


(1) Revelation 17 and the Harlot, the false worship system.


(01) Chapter 17 points to a religious system, a whole world order not an actual city (although the city will be the focal point of this false worship).


a) 17:4-5, the major guilt of Babylon comes from the city’s abominations (Thomas)


b) 17:16 shows that the beast and the ten kings will destroy this false religious system. The beast would hardly destroy his own city.


(02) Chapter 18 points to a geographic location, not a religious system.


a) While in chp. 17 the guilt comes from abominations, but in 18 it is Babylon’s sensuality which is associated with luxury (18:3).


b) In chp. 18 there is “heavy interaction with the merchants of the earth 18:3; 11, 15, 23.” (Thomas)


c) The deep sorrow of uninvolved witnesses of her destruction in vss. 9-11, 25-26, 19, contrasts strongly with the absence of such witnesses and lamentations at the destruction of Babylon in chp. 17. (Thomas)


d) The economic prosperity and luxury of the latter Babylon (18:11-14, 19) is a marked difference from anything said about earlier Babylon. “The distinction between the two chapters is that between two systems or networks that


e) have the same geographical headquarters.” (Thomas)


5. Armageddon


a. This is the climax of the seven year tribulation, occurs after all the bowls have been poured out. Since chapter 16 at the time of the 6th bowl the armies have been gathering at the valley of Megiddo.


(1) Note: The Marriage of the Lamb takes place immediately before the coming of Christ (Rev. 19:7-10).


(2) The Coming of the Lord (Rev. 11-21). Christ is about to take possession of the earth.


(3) The “Bride of Christ” comes with him (vs. 14).


(4) He comes first to the Mount of Olives and provides a way of escape and refuge for the Jews in Jerusalem by way of the Mount of Olives. The “great earthquake” could be that of Rev. 16:18, Christ then makes His way to the valley of Megiddo.


(5) There is going to be great carnage as this campaign takes place (vss. Rev. 19:17-18). The armies appear to have gathered for the purpose of fighting the anti-Christ (16:16) and at Christ appearance they turn to fight the Lord.


(6) Christ destroys them with the “sword” that comes from His mouth (vs. 19). The armies of the world are completely destroyed. This includes the armies of Ezekiel 39 (notice the similarities of Rev. 19:17-18 and Ezek. 39:17-20) and in verses 21-22 of Ezek. Israel is said to believe at least in part, because of the destruction of Magog.


6. Judgment of the “Sheep and Goats” (Matt. 25:31-46).


a. Both believer and unbeliever are present at this judgment. While the armies of the world were destroyed at Armageddon, not every person in the world was killed at that point. Here is the judgment of those unbelievers who were not at Armageddon, and the believers who had survived up to this point. They are either found to be in followers of Christ or they are told to “depart... into the eternal fire” (Matt. 25:41).


b. The stage is set for the marriage feast, the millennial reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only believers are left on the face of the earth.


c. The beast and false prophet have been cast into hell (Rev. 19:20- 21). And they are quickly followed by the Devil himself, who is bound by a chain and thrown into the abyss so he can no longer deceive the nations (20:1-3).


d. The “elect” both O.T. and tribulation saints (Church raised at rapture) who have died are raised from the dead at this time to take part in the wedding feast (Matt. 24:29:31; Dan. 12:2; Rev. 20:4-6).


VI. The Millennium

A. The length of this kingdom is 1000 years (Rev. 20:6-7).


B. Believers will reign as priests with Christ (vs. 6).


C. Satan is bound which enables man to live without his deceitfulness filling the earth. People become rather quiet in their sin without their leader. The world is a totally different place when Satan in not in control.


1. Characteristics of the Millennium


a. David will be ruling (2 Sam. 7:8-17; Ezek. 34:24; 37:24-25)


b. Christ will rule with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5). Sin will not be tolerated, anyone committing sin is immediately killed (Isa. 11:3-5; 25:2-5; Zech. 9:3-8).


c. No sickness, disease or deformities will be present (Isa. 33:24; Jer. 30:17; Isa. 29:17-19; 35:3-6; Jer. 31:8)


d. Some work will be going on (Isa. 62:8-9; 65:21-23)


e. Protection and freedom from oppression (Isa. 41:8-14; Jer. 32:27; Joel 3:16-17; Isa. 14:3-6; Zech. 9:11-12).


f. Manifest presence of God (Ezek. 37:27-28; Zech. 2:2, 10-13).


2. Israel will be fully restored, and all the promises of the Covenants will be fulfilled.


a. Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:4-21). This is the covenant from which all other covenants stem. It is absolutely crucial to understanding God’s plan for Israel, and what He is going to do for them in the future. God makes this unconditional covenant with Abraham and his descendants, specifically Isaac (Gen. 21:12).


b. Palestinian Covenant (29:1-10). Israel will possess all the land promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18-21. Important to remember that this was part of the unconditional promise that God made to Abraham. And this promise has yet to be fulfilled, neither David or Solomon obtained the land promised to Abraham. In fact the prophets looked forward to the day when Israel would inherit the land promised to them (Ezek. 20:42; Zech. 8:3-8).


c. Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:8-17; Ps. 89:3-4). It is important to remember, that just because God promised David that his throne would be established forever, does not mean that it would be continual. The covenant does not require a unbroken line of ruling kings, but it does promise that the king will come through the line of David. And this promise assures David that his kingdom would never pass away permanently, even if at times it would not exist.


d. New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:27-28). The New Covenant goes one step further in God’s plan for Israel. Since it would make no sense for God to rule over an unregenerate people, He promises that He will turn there heart’s to Him. He will be their God and they will be His people. This covenant focuses on the spiritual blessing that will come and the redemption of Israel. Everything promised in the new covenant depends on Israel’s salvation, which God Himself has guaranteed.

This covenant is consistently spoken of as future in the O.T. (Is. 55:3; 59:20-21; Ezekiel 34:11-31). And this covenant is inseparably linked to Israel’s future restoration to the land (Jer. 32:36-41; Ezek. 36:24-25). Israel was quite aware of the promises that God had made to them, that He would provide a king who would rule and reign over them (Ezek.24-28; Zech. 14:9; Amos 9:11-15).

Gentiles will also experience blessings of the new covenant, such as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but this does not mean other covenant promises were for the church.


D. Different Views of the Millennium


1. Priority of the New Testament over the Old Testament “Here is the basic watershed between a dispensational and a nondispensational theology. Dispensaiotnalism forms its eschatology by a literal interpretation of the Old Testament and then fits the New Testament into it. A nondispensational eschatalogy forms its theology from the explicit teaching of the New Testament. It confesses that it cannot be sure how the Old Testament prophecies of the end are to be fulfilled...” (Ladd, p. 27).


a. Ex. Matt. 2:15 reinterprets Hos. 11:1


b. Rom. 9:24-26 reinterprets Hos. 2:23


2. Amillennialism: “The amillennial view holds that there will be no literal millennium on the earth following the second advent. All prophecies concerning the kingdom are being fulfilled in the inter-advent period spiritually by the church.” Pentecost, Things to Come, p. 372


“Its most general character is that of denial of a literal reign of Christ upon the earth. Satan is conceived as bound at the first coming of Christ. The present age between the first and second comings is the fulfillment of the millennium. It may be summed up in the idea that there will be no more millennium than there is now, and that the eternal state immediately follows the second coming of Christ.” Ibid. p. 372


c. Problems

(1) Rev. 20


(2) Satan is not bound 1 Pet. 5:8


(3) Promises to Jews are broken in this view


3. Postmillennial: “The postmillennial view says that through preaching the Gospel the whole world will be Christianized and brought to submission to the Gospel before the return of Christ. The name is derived from the fact that in this theory Christ returns after the millennium (hence post-millennial).” Ibid. p. 372




(1) At the time of the end things in the world we be getting worse not better (Matt. 24:6-12; 2 Thess. 2:3).


(2) Christ establishes and starts the millennium not man (Rev. 19-20; 16:9).


(3) No longer any promises to the Jews.


4. Proponents of both of these views say their view is strengthened by the idea that, if the church brings is in the millennium, or helps bring in the millennium it gives it a purpose. The church does not sit idly by and wait for the Messiah, we have a part in bringing the Messiah.


5. Historic Premillennialism: “One type of premillenialism is nondispensationsal. It is known as covenant premillennialism. It’s adherents often prefer to be called “historic premillenialists.” That is because much of their position was the view that was held by many of the church fathers during the first several centuries of the church.” Benware p. 93.


a. The hermenuetical system of historic premillenialism distinguishes it from dispensational premillenialism. In historic premillenialism a distinction between Israel and the church is not maintained nor is a consistently literal interpretive method demanded.” Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, pp. 386-387.


b. Historic premillenialist believe that Christ is going to return after the tribulation and establish His kingdom based on Rom. 11:26. “From this statement it is clear there is a future for national Israel. However, the details concerning a future for national Israel remain unclear. It is not even clear if Israel’s future conversion is in relation to the Millennium.” George Ladd, The Meaning of the Millennium, p. 28.


c. Another characteristic of the covenant premillennialist (any covenant belief for that matter) is the idea that the New Testament reinterprets the Old Testament. “I do not see how it is possible to avoid the conclusion that the New Testament applies Old Testament prophecies to the church and in doing so identifies the church as spiritual Israel.” (Ladd, p. 23).


(1) An example of this is the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). Covenant theologians want to apply this only to the church (2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 3:7-9). Israel has forfeited her rights because of her rejection of the Messiah.


(01) Rebuttal: Though the church does participate in the blessing of the New Covenant, the New Covenant is unconditional and eternal and demands a fulfillment with Israel.


(02) Rebuttal: Nowhere in the New Testament are the promises made to Israel negated. Just because the church takes part in some of the blessings of the New Covenant it does not mean they are fulfilling it. Since the major party is Israel, Israel must be taking part in order for the Covenant to be in effect.


(2) The Millennium “ A millennnial doctrine cannot be based on Old Testament prophecies but should be based on the New Testament alone. The only place in the Bible that speaks of an actual millennium is the passage in Revelation 20:1-6. Any millennial doctrine must be based upon the most natural exegesis of this passage.” (Ladd, p. 32) (emphasis mine).


(01) Rebuttal: The concept of a kingdom of God on earth is well established in the Old Testament (Gen. 13:15; Isaiah 2:1-4; Daniel 2:44; Zech. 14:9). It does not rest on Revelation 20:1-6 alone.


(02) For Ladd and other Covenant theologians the Old Testament is good only for narratives and historical accounts.


1. Premillennial: “The premillennial view is the view that holds that Christ will return to earth, literally and bodily, before the millennial age begins and that , by His presence, a kingdom will be instituted over which He will reign. In this kingdom all of Israel’s covenants will be literally fulfilled and it will continue for a thousand years.” Pentecost, p. 372


a. Crucial ideas in Premillennial thought


(1) Old Testament prophecies are not reinterpreted by the New Testament. In some cases the New Testament gives a fuller meaning or an application that was not understood by the Old Testament writer. But this does not mean that it’s original meaning has changed.


(2) Distinction between Church and Israel. The church is called a “mystery” in Ephesians 3, and a mystery is something that has not been revealed in the Old Testament (Benware, p. 86).


(3) The church and Israel are always kept distinct by the writers in the New Testament.


(01) 1 Cor. 10:32


(02) Eph. 2:11-16


(4) “Another reason for seeing a distinction between the church and the nation of Israel is that the two terms are not used inter-changeably by the writers of Scripture.


(01) The term Israel is used a total of seventy-three times in the New Testament, and in each case it refers to ethnic Israel. Out of these seventy-three occurrences only three are used by covenant theology to prove that Israel equals the church, which could hardly be seen as overwhelming evidence for an Israel-equals-church idea.


a) Rom. 9:6 (distinction here is believing Jews and non-believing Jews. Not Israel and the church).


b) Rom. 11:26 (reference to “all Israel” is Israel not the church, not even covenant theologians are in agreement on this passage).


c) Gal. 6:16 (Covenant theologians change the “and” to the secondary meaning “even” to make their point. Not good hermeneutics, and Paul is making the point that the way of salvation is the same for all. Circumcision does not save you, whether you are called “circumcision” (Jews) or “uncircumcision” (Gentiles).


d) Reference is often made to “the seed of Abraham” in Gal. 3:29 as proof that Gentiles are now spiritual Israel. But Scripture uses the phrase “seed of Abraham” in different ways. It is used of the natural, physical seed of Abraham. This could include all those who descend from Abraham, but in the Scriptures the emphasis is on the physical line of Isaac and Jacob” (Benware pp. 87-88) (Gen. 17:15-16; Gen. 25:23-34).

“The “seed” is also used of those in Israel who are true believers (Rom. 9:8). And it is used of true believers who are not physically descendants from Abraham. But having acknowledged this, it must be noted that the spiritual seed of Abraham is never called “Israel.” (Benware, p. 89).


(2) Keeping a distinction between Israel and the Church is absolutely fundamental in one’s reading and understanding of the Bible.


E. Rebellion after the Millennium Rev. (20:7-9)


F. Final Judgment of unbelievers at the Great White Throne Rev. (20:11-15)


1. Individuals are judged on the basis of their deeds (vs.12)


2. Never again after this judgment will sin be present in the world


G. Burning up of heaven and earth


2 Peter 3:7, time as we know it comes to an end.


VII. Eternal State

A. Transition from millennial kingdom to eternal kingdom 1 Cor. 15:24-26


B. New Heaven and Earth


1. Rev. 21:1; 2 Pet. 3:13;


2. *Isa. 65:17; 66:22


3. No pain, death or sadness (Rev. 21:4) New Jerusalem


a. Rev. 21:10-27 Lord is the temple and the light of the city (vss. 2223).


b. New Jerusalem is seen as the “bride” (vs.9) this seems to be the dwelling place of those Saints with glorified bodies.


c. The curse has been removed (22:3). Things could be brought back to their original state before the fall. Restored to what God originally intended them to be for mankind. It seems from Isaiah 65:17 that we do not even remember what it was like to live in a sinful world!


VIII. Death and the Intermediate State

A. Biblical View of Death


“The Scriptures speak of three kinds of death: spiritual death, which is the separation of created being from the Creator (Eph. 2:1); eternal death, which is the final, permanent separation of an unsaved person from God (Rev. 20:14); and physical death, which is the separation of the immaterial part of man from the material body (Gen. 35:18-19). When a person dies physically they do not cease to exist; rather, their body and soul experience separation.” (Benware, p. 294).


1. Acts 7:59


2. Gen. 35:18


3. James 2:26


B. The Intermediate State


1. For the Believer


a. “After the death of a believer and before his resurrection, he or she exists in the intermediate state.” (Benware, p. 295)


b. “Believers are assured that death brings them immediately into the presence of Christ. The believer is either in his physical body living on the earth or has left his material body and has gone into Christ’s presence of Christ.” (Benware, p. 295)


(1) 2 Cor. 5:6-8


(2) Philippians 1:21-23


2. For the Unbeliever


a. “The unbeliever also continues in conscious existence at the time of physical death. But his fate is not a pleasant one, as he experiences punishment in hell (hades).” Ibid.

p. 298

(1) Matt. 5:22; 11:23; 23:33 (temporal)


(2) Luke 16:19-31 (temporal)


(3) Rev. 20:10, 14-15 (eternal) The final dwelling place of Satan and his followers is the lake of fire.


b. “And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Rev. 22:17)


This file was converted from Adobe PDF format to HTML by Tony Capoccia of Bible Bulletin Board (BBB) ( Permission was received from Indian Hill Community Church for the conversion and the posting on BBB. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.

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