THE EVIDENCE POINTING TO A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE IN SCRIPTURE (Part 10)
A growing belief among evangelical Christians is that the rapture will take place just prior to the Trumpet Judgements recorded in Revelation 8. Just like the post-Tribulationists, they believe that the Church will not escape the oppressive rule of the Antichrist, which includes persecution and martyrdom. They do, however, believe that the Church will be spared the direct wrath of God on mankind, which will be expressed through the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements; hence the term Pre-wrath has been adopted for their theory. The rapture then, according to the Pre-wrath advocates, will only occur at some stage in the middle of the Great Tribulation, just prior to the outpouring of the Trumpet Judgements.
The champion of this doctrine is Marvin Rosenthal, whose book The Pre-wrath rapture of the Church has caused a major stir in evangelical eschatology, causing some pre-Tribulation rapture supporters to change their loyalty. Time must, therefore, be taken to analyse Rosenthal’s book which makes the claim to have provided enough scriptural evidence to totally discredit the pre-Tribulation rapture doctrine.
Rosenthal’s interpretation of the seal judgements
A crucial weakness in Rosenthal’s Pre-wrath theory is his understanding of the seal judgements. It is therefore important to carefully analyse this section of eschatology. Rosenthal’s interpretation of the seal judgements of Revelation 6 is that “the first six seals are opened in chronological sequence. After each seal is opened, certain events occur” (1). Rosenthal then postulates that the sixth seal signals the commencement of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth, which are the Trumpet and then the Bowl Judgements which again follow in sequence. The Seal Judgements of Revelation 6 are shown in the table below:
The Seal Judgements of Revelation 6
|The fist seal||A rider on a white horse||The Antichrist|
|The second seal||A rider on a red horse||War|
|The third seal||A rider on a black horse||Economic collapse|
|The fourth seal||A rider on a pale horse||Death by war, famine, plague and wild beasts|
|The fifth seal||Slain saints under the altar||Believers are martyred|
|The sixth seal||Cosmic disturbances||Direct wrath from God|
Rosenthal makes the assertion that that the second to fourth seals are consequences of the wrath of man against man, and not the wrath of God upon man. He believes that the second seal of war will then cause economic hardship, famine and plague. Therefore, the wrath of God is only expressed after the opening of the seventh seal, which is then followed in sequence by the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements.
Rosenthal, in his efforts to show that the wrath of God only starts after the sixth seal, gives no explanation as to how it is possible that the first four seals occur in the first half of the Tribulation period. His chronological sequencing of the seals is an extremely simplistic view which requires further explanation. However, none is offered.
Rosenthal needs to explain how it is possible that the first four seals occur in the first three and a half years of the Tribulation, a period that scripture indicates is a time of peace. Satan, using the Antichrist, will lure mankind into complicity with his evil schemes. Then, by the midpoint of the Tribulation the Antichrist will seek to unite mankind into a one-world government (with the Antichrist as its leader), one-world religion (with the Antichrist as its focus of worship), and a one-world economy (which will require the Antichrist to be worshipped).
Rosenthal fails to explain how his theory of the second to fourth seals – which bring worldwide mayhem, destruction and death to multitudes – occur in the first three and a half years, when this is the time that scripture indicates the Antichrist establishes an appearance of peace to lure mankind into a governmental and spiritual unity. Rosenthal’s chronology has the rider of the red horse, who is given power “to take peace from the earth,” following immediately after the rise of the Antichrist to world prominence by establishing peace. A total contradiction!
Rosenthal’s theory then places, immediately after the rise of the Antichrist, a global conflict which results in a worldwide carnage and slaughter, followed quickly by economic depression, famine, plagues and wild beasts all of which cause havoc across the globe. This, Rosenthal postulates, occurs in a time when scripture repeatedly emphasises that there will be peace. Plainly, Rosenthal’s theory does not match with scripture, and that answers the question as to why he makes no attempt to give further explanation to his hypothesis regarding the timing of the second to fourth seals.
The first three and a half years will be a time of false peace for a number of reasons:
- Daniel 9:27 reveals that the last seven years of his 490-year prophecy – The Tribulation – commences with the signing of a seven-year covenant. Evidence that this covenant is a peace treaty is that the Antichrist, the false messiah, is the first seal, the rider on the white horse who conquers by shrewd diplomacy. He has a bow but no arrows, which indicates that he comes in peace but has the military strength to ensure that the covenant agreed upon is kept.
- The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, explains that the Antichrist will arise to power “in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thess. 2:9-10a). God allows the Antichrist the first three and a half years of the Tribulation to establish himself using the works of Satan. Paul firmly points out that it is God who allows this deception because mankind “refuse(s) to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thess. 2:10b-12). The Antichrist is given time by God to prepare the “powerful delusion” by establishing himself as a world leader, moving his headquarters to Jerusalem and preparing the groundwork for a one-world government, one-world religion and a one-world economy.
- The Antichrist will also have to work with world religions, bringing them into the ecumenical church and establishing a one-world religion; and he will initially require the world to worship the whore of Babylon (Dan. 11:38; Rev. 17:3-7).
- The Jews would not accept the Antichrist as their Messiah unless he introduced a time of prosperity, blessing and peace. To be fully convinced that the Antichrist is their Messiah, the Jews must once more re-introduce Temple worship and sacrifice, so it is during the first half of the Tribulation that the Jews will build their Temple. As the Temple Mount is at the moment firmly under the control of Islam, this will require an extended time of peace with their Arab neighbours. The Antichrist will, during this time, establish himself as the (false) Messiah and become the Jews’ king and high priest (Dan. 11:36; Rev. 17:3-8).
- A time of peace is required by God for people to make their choice. A great number of people will be convicted by the tremendous fulfilment of prophecy occurring at this time and will give their lives to the Lord. These men and women will know time is short and will go to great lengths to evangelise the world. They will be supported by the 144 000 Jews who as “the servants of our God” (Rev. 7:3) will point to Jesus as the true Messiah; the Gospel angel (Rev. 14:6); and the two witnesses (Rev. 11:3). The first three and a half years will then be a wonderful time of harvesting of souls for the Lord. By releasing the Antichrist, God is requiring the world to choose whom they serve, and God gives a time before the weight of the judgement falls in the Great Tribulation for people to make their choice. Wisely, a great multitude will choose to serve the Lord.
To fully understand the seven seals, a study must be made of Revelation 5 and the scroll itself. W. A. Criswell, in his book Expository Sermons on Revelation, gives an excellent explanation of the use of the scroll in Biblical times. He explains that Jewish law ensured that no Jewish family would lose their lands because of debt. Should a Jewish family be in financial distress their losses would be listed in a scroll and sealed seven times. The conditions necessary to purchase back their land and possessions would be written on the outside of the scroll. When a kinsman-redeemer, who met the stated requirements, came forward he was able to purchase the property back for the family from the person to whom the property had been forfeited because of debt. This ensured that no family would ever lose their right to land given to them by God. An example of the kinsman-redeemer is recorded in the book of Ruth, where Boaz redeems the property of Elimelech, Naomi’s deceased husband (Ruth 4:2-11).
In Revelation 5 Jesus is the Kinsman-redeemer, the only one who meets the requirements to open the scroll. The Lamb of God, who took the penalty for sin upon himself, will administer the judgement upon a world that has rejected his deliverance and hates Him and all that He stands for. The scroll contains the requirements in the seven seals for the world to be restored back to being under the full authority of Jesus.
The seven seals are the overview of the book of Revelation and the judgements that will be poured out on to the earth. The scroll contains the unfolding revelation of the Lord’s plan in restoring the world and mankind to how He intended it to be, a perfect world with a perfect God.
In the first seal – with the release of the Antichrist – Jesus expresses His wrath against a sinful and rebellious generation by giving them over to their own wants and desires. The belief by Rosenthal that the judgements of the four horsemen are not the wrath of God, but the actions of men upon the earth, are contradicted by the fact that the judgements are released from heaven by Jesus, who is the only one able to open the seven-sealed scroll. The world is then presented with the Antichrist and they accept him with open arms. The rise of the Antichrist will initially establish a time of world peace. However, the Antichrist will introduce measures that will eventually cause conflict with other nations, economic hardships, death by famine, plagues, etc. He will also look to destroy God’s representatives on earth so he will begin the persecution and martyrdom of the Saints.
The second to sixth seals cannot then be in the first three and a half years of the Tribulation as Rosenthal suggests, but rather will all occur during the Great Tribulation, the last three and a half years. The first seal, the Antichrist, introduces the Tribulation period with three and a half years of peace and world unification, with both a one-world religion and a one-world government. The Antichrist then in the middle of the seven-year period erects a statue of himself in the Temple and demands the world worship him as God. The dominant negative reaction to this is from the Jews, who will now deny the Antichrist is God and refuse to worship his idol. This will signal the beginning of the persecution of those Jews by the Antichrist. The False Prophet then introduces the one-world monetary system which is connected to the acceptance of the Antichrist as God (Rev. 13:16-17). Those who hold on to their faith in Jesus during this time will refuse to accept the mark of the beast. Unable to buy and sell goods without the mark, many will be quickly identified as rebellious to the New World Order and be executed. The executions will continue through the Great Tribulation and are later revealed as the fifth seal. It is the actions of the Antichrist in calling himself god and the change in the economy which will, after a period of time, result in the consequences of the last three horsemen of the apocalypse, causing war, economic hardship, famine, plagues and death.
These judgements will continue on the earth through the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements, right up to the return of Jesus. When taking the unfolding events of the Antichrist in context, it becomes clear that the second to fourth seals cannot be in the first three and a half years as Rosenthal suggests and that the seals do include the wrath of God. Rosenthal should follow his own advice and heed David Cooper’s classic “golden rule of Interpretation”: “When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of the related passage and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise (2).”
The problem with Rosenthal’s Pre-Wrath theory is that he assumes his chronology and sequencing of the seals, trumpets and bowls is correct, and then proceeds to use this to discredit pre-Tribulationism. This is circular reasoning. Rosenthal uses his theory to prove his theory! A study of the seals shows that they are an overview of the Tribulation, from the rise of the Antichrist to the judgements prior to the return of the Lord. The first three and a half years of the Tribulation is a time of pseudo-peace, with the Antichrist ruling as the false Messiah.
Only in the midst of the week do the second to the seventh seals commence. These seals overlap, with war, economic depression, famine, and martyrdom of the saints occurring around the same time. The Great Tribulation will also include the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements from God, introduced by the seventh seal. To believe that the Antichrist would be able to become established as the Messiah and introduce a one-world government and a one-world religion in rebellion against God, when his rule is dogged from the onset by war, economic catastrophe, famine, plagues and rampaging wild animals occurring one after the other, is totally illogical and ignores the prophecies regarding the Antichrist.
Rosenthal’s reasoning is extremely perilous, as he has changed the mindset of Christians to a trench-warfare mentality, where Christians are preparing to dig in for a time of hardship, rather than spreading the word of the rise of the Antichrist and a pre-Tribulation rapture and thus developing the knowledge of people which could lead them to an eternity with Jesus.
(1) Rosenthal Marvin. The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990 (P175).
(2) Rosenthal Marvin. The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990 (P176).
The Second to Fourth seals
Rosenthal’s understanding of the chronology of the book of Revelation is that the seals, Trumpets and Bowls Judgements follow sequentially. From this he postulates that seals 1-4 take place in the first three and a half years of Daniel’s final week of years. The fifth seal occurs midway in the week, after the Antichrist erects an image of himself in the Temple, and all mankind are required to take the mark of the beast. Believers will then be martyred by the False Prophet for refusing the mark. Cosmic disturbances will announce the commencement of the sixth seal. The seventh seal will follow shortly after, with the wrath of God being poured out on to the world through the Trumpet and Bowl judgements, which will occur in the last 20 or so months of Daniel’s 70th week, culminating with the return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom reign of a thousand years.
Because of the importance Rosenthal places on his definition of the Seal Judgements for his theory, a study of the validity of his placing the second to the fourth seals in the first three and a half years of the Tribulation needs to be made. Below are listed some of the problems for which he does not give an adequate answer:
- The judgements used in the seals are the reoccurring methods that God uses throughout scripture as a means of displaying his anger against man. An example is when the Prophet Gad is sent to David by God to give him three options to choose from as punishment for conducting a census. All three choices are used within the second, third and fourth seal judgements: “So Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me’” (2 Sam. 24:11-13). To argue that the seals are not expressions of God’s wrath is to ignore the large weight of scriptural evidence to the contrary.
- Rosenthal also ignores the fact that wild beasts are a part of the fourth seal judgement, so he avoids explaining how the death of large numbers of people by wild animals forms part of his belief that the seals are man’s wrath against man. The use of wild animals behaving in this manner is a clear indicator that the deaths in the fourth seal are a judgement from God, as is confirmed in 2 Kings 17:24-26, where the scripture records how the Lord sent lions among the Samaritans as a judgement for not worshipping Him. This was a clear expression of God’s fury falling upon the Samaritans for worshiping foreign gods in Israel. In the last days, it seems that man’s continual encroachment on the terrain of wildlife will result in continual conflicts which will result in a high number of human casualties. However, this will not be a natural consequence for the proximity of man and beast, but orchestrated by God as a Judgement against mankind for his rebellion against Him.
- The breaking of the fourth seal results in a fourth of the world dying. Rosenthal implies that these deaths will be the result of the war and of the famine and pestilence caused by these wars. The population of the world now is at the start of 2022, very close to 7.9 billion, so Rosenthal would have us believe that war that will result in nearly 2 billion people dying will occur in the first half of the Tribulation before the Antichrist has established himself as the world leader and erected his idol in the Temple. A war of this magnitude would destabilise the world and would not allow the Antichrist to establish a one-world government, a one-world religion and a one-world economy. He would most certainly be rejected by the Jews as their Messiah, because a key factor for the Jews’ Messiah is that he must usher in a time of peace, not start a war that results in the death of a quarter of the world’s population!
Rosenthal’s first three and a half years of the Tribulation has multiple displays of God’s wrath on mankind: the release of the Antichrist, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so they will not believe the lie” (2 Thess. 2:11). The wars, the economic turmoil and the famine are all displays of God’s wrath. The further outpouring of God’s wrath in the sixth seal is exactly that, and not its beginning.
If you are viewing a historical museum which had displays of the epic conflicts of World War II, and the order you viewed the displays was from the Battle of the Atlantic (1939-1945), to the North Africa campaign (June 1940-May 1943), and lastly the Battle of Britain (July 1940-May 1941), you may be forgiven for thinking that when the Battle of the Atlantic ended, the battle for North Africa was then fought, and when the Africa campaign came to a conclusion the Battle of Britain commenced, but you would be wrong! The commencement of the conflicts took place in that order, but all three conflicts overlapped. The fight for aerial dominance over Britain was fought at the same time as the Africa campaign and the battle of the Atlantic. The Book of Revelation needs to be understood from the same perspective, that it is not one unfolding linear story, but insight into occurrences during the Tribulation, many of which overlap. The following will all be occurring at the same time during the Great Tribulation:
- The persecution of the saints (martyrdom).
- Battles and wars.
- Economic collapse.
- Famine and plagues.
- The pouring out of the wrath of God in the Trumpet and Bowl judgements, which include cosmic signs.
To make his point of a Pre-Wrath rapture Rosenthal must believe that all the events, from the first seal to the last bowl, occur in succession. This is an extremely simplistic understanding of a complex book which is giving insight into many and varied events, some of which are taking place concurrently. The reality of the book of Revelation is that it is far more interrelated and complex than Rosenthal would like his readers to believe.
The Wrath of God
There are four scriptures in the Bible that promise the Church that they will be removed from the earth before the start of the End-Time Judgements, as they are not appointed to experience the wrath of God:
- 1 Thessalonians 1:10b: “Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:9: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- “Since we have been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!”
- Ephesians 5:6: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”
The scriptures are very clear that the Church is declared righteous through the shed blood of Jesus, and therefore does not suffer the End-Times divine anger of God – a judgement for man’s godlessness and unrighteousness. Some theologians may state that 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and Romans 5:9, refer to deliverance from the Great White Throne Judgement, however, as these scriptures refer to deliverance from God’s wrath, they apply to both the Tribulation judgements and the White Throne judgements.
The bone of contention between the pre-Tribulation stance and Pre-Wrath theory is when the wrath of God actually begins. Rosenthal believes he has the answer, which is the keystone of his Pre-Wrath theory. In his theory, Rosenthal has the rapture only taking place in the middle of the Great Tribulation, just prior to the Trumpet Judgements. He indicates that the sixth seal’s warning that “the great day of their wrath has come” (Rev. 6:17), means that God’s wrath is poured out on to the earth only with the seventh seal announcement of the Trumpet Judgements. Rosenthal, therefore, believes the rapture will only occur prior to the wrath of God being released on to the earth, midway through the Great Tribulation. The Church then, according to Rosenthal, will be present on earth through the rise of the Antichrist and his establishing an idol of himself in the Temple. They will, therefore, also experience the persecutions of the mark of the beast, where those who reject the mark will be executed. The Pre-Wrath doctrine holds that the Church will experience the hardships of Daniel’s seventh week that are created by man (the seals), but will be mercifully removed from the earth at the rapture just prior to God unleashing his wrath judgements (the trumpets and bowls).
However, for this theory to have any credibility he needs to show that the seal judgements, specifically the first-seal release of the Antichrist, are not the result of the wrath of God. Rosenthal does so by referring to the pre-Tribulation belief that the Antichrist is a judgement of God as being preposterous, as “it is to have a divided house – to have God opposing Himself and a house divided cannot stand.” However, it is Rosenthal’s poor exegesis that prevents him from grasping the concept of God’s use of the Antichrist as a judgement on mankind.
Rosenthal uses the scripture “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18), in order to stress that an attribute of God is his wrath against sinful man. Rosenthal thus believes that this scripture underlines that the final display of God’s wrath will result in divine judgement during the day of the Lord. However, a deeper study of Romans 1:18-32 is required to achieve a full understanding of what Paul means when he refers to the wrath of God. Paul, in his letter is warning of God’s righteous anger towards man for His rejection of Him. Man has refused God’s love, rejected God’s grace, rebelled against God’s law and has sought a life apart from God, where man is only responsible to man. Mankind has reached a stage in his sinful rebellion where he does not withhold anything from himself that he desires. God is a Holy God, and therefore He must hold ungodliness and unrighteousness accountable.
Paul’s account in Romans 1:18-32 reflects the degenerate society that Rome had become and gets to the root of how the wrath of God is directed against a sinful people. In rapid succession Paul repeats one of the most tragic statements in the Bible – “God gave (man) over” to do what he wanted to do!
- “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie…” (Rom. 1:24-25).
- “God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men abandoned natural relations with a woman and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committing indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Rom. 1:26-27).
- “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (Rom. 1:28).
Paul does not, as Rosenthal suggests, speak of God’s wrath being fire-and-brimstone judgements; rather Paul repeatedly defines the wrath of God as handing man over to his own sinful lusts. To understand the full extent of the consequence of God handing man over to his own rebellious desires, one needs to comprehend that God is ceasing His efforts to bring mankind to salvation, and by giving them over to a depraved mind thereby condemns them to an eternity in hell.
This is not an immediate judgement, but takes place over a period of three and a half years. The Antichrist, the epitome of rebellion against God will entice man into his grandiose plan of a one-world government and one-world religion, where man is responsible only to man for his actions. Then midway through the Tribulation, mankind will have to make a choice. The Antichrist will require mankind to worship him as God, and to wear a mark in recognition of loyalty to him.
So, Rosenthal totally misses the point. He looks at the consequences of the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements, which destroy the flesh, as being the main aim of the Tribulation judgements. He could not be more wrong! The rise of the Antichrist and the permissive society which he will reinforce, will cater to the lusts of man’s heart. Society will glorify the Antichrist, and will willingly take the mark of the beast, that the False Prophet will introduce as a means to identify those who worship the Antichrist as God (Rev. 13:16-17).
The apostle John warns of the great tragedy that faces all those who succumb to the seduction of the Antichrist and bear his mark on their body, recording that they will “drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb” (Rev. 14:10).
There can be no doubt that the wrath of God against a defiant world – which is revealed through the works of the Antichrist – is far greater than any of the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements. The Trumpet and Bowl Judgements inflict pain and suffering and result in high casualties, while the first seal of the Antichrist will result in the destruction of both body and soul in hell for those foolish enough to worship him, a fate far worse than death.
Rosenthal’s accusation that the idea of the Antichrist as a judgement of God is preposterous as “it is to have a divided house – to have God opposing Himself and a house divided cannot stand,” becomes clarified, in the light of Paul’s explanation of the Antichrist being a result of God’s wrath on a rebellious people, which is a sound Biblical principle. God is giving man a choice that will affect Him for eternity, a final opportunity to choose righteousness and eternal life, or face the consequences of their godless unrighteousness and be condemned to an eternity in the Lake of Fire. Rather than being preposterous, as Rosenthal suggests, it is the actions of a divine God against a society that continues to rebel against Him, despite all His efforts to turn them from the path of destruction.
God, as He did to the people of Rome, is going to hand the world over “to a depraved mind,” where they will rejoice at the arrival of the Antichrist. In their wickedness and rebellion, they will accept the counterfeit signs and lying wonders of the Antichrist as evidence of his being the Christ. They will happily give themselves over to the deceptions of the Antichrist, because his lies will reinforce their selfish desires and beliefs. The result, however, will be that they shall reap eternal condemnation and share an eternity with the Antichrist and False Prophet in the Lake of Fire.
The Apostle Paul’s warning to the Romans is repeated in his second letter to the church in Thessalonica when he writes “the coming of the lawless one (the Antichrist) will be in accordance with the works of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the truth and be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so they will believe the lie” (2 Thess. 2:9-11). The rise of the Antichrist is a moral consequence of mankind rejecting the truth. God is allowing mankind to have what he desires, but this will ultimately end in punishment for their sin through a judgement that is to be feared far more than any of the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements that will result in the loss of life. The first seal release of the Antichrist will determine the eternal salvation or condemnation to hell for those living during the Tribulation.
Rosenthal’s Pre-Wrath theory stands or falls on his ability to prove that the Seal Judgements of Revelation 5 are not the wrath of God. Paul clearly associates God’s giving man over to a depraved mind with the wrath of God. The Antichrist will be used by God as a means to determine who, during the Tribulation, are the righteous and who are the rebellious. A decision to accept the Antichrist as God will carry with it eternal consequences. This means that Rosenthal’s belief that the rapture only occurs prior to the Trumpet Judgements is not only wrong, but dangerously flawed.
A warning of the deception that the Antichrist poses to mankind needs to be broadcast now. When the Antichrist signs the covenant for a Middle East peace treaty, it will be too late as the Church will already be in heaven, rescued from the wrath of God by Jesus in the rapture.
Other factors that need to be considered in the wrath debate are:
- The book of Revelation clearly tells us that it is Jesus who is “worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals” (Rev. 5:9). If the Antichrist is not a tool of God’s judgement, then why is Jesus the one who opens the seals? (Rev. 6:1). There is also the fact that each time Jesus breaks a seal a thundering voice calls out “come!” which carries a resonance of God’s judgement as a horseman of the apocalypse rides forth. Both these facts are evidence that the seals are a part of God’s End-Time judgement on a rebellious world.
- Rosenthal uses Joel 2:31 “the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” to emphasise that the rapture happens just prior to the wrath of God being poured out in the Great Tribulation. This use of Joel 2:31 to link the commencement of the wrath of God with the day of the Lord is incorrect, as Joel is referring to the signs that will precede the return of Jesus to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation when he writes of “the great and terrible Day of the Lord.” Joel could not refer to the glorious return of Jesus from heaven to the Mount of Olives because this truth was hidden from him. That is why, when Peter quotes Joel in his speech at Pentecost in Acts 2:17-21, he does not use the Hebrew word Ayom, meaning “terrible” as Joel did, but used the Greek word epiphany which is translated glorious in the NIV and literally means “the out-shining.” For Joel, the warning is to the unsaved, that the return of the Lord will be “a great and dreadful day” of Judgement. For Peter, the Lord’s return is “a great and glorious day,” as Jesus is returning to set up His Kingdom. Both Joel and Peter are referring to the return of Jesus, not the timing of the commencement of God’s wrath during the Great Tribulation. The return of the Lord at the head of His army is referred to by Joel as “the day of the Lord” (Joel 2:11). This is at the end of the Great Tribulation. Joel uses the term Day of the Lord to emphasise events that will occur during God’s judgement of mankind during the Tribulation, not as an indicator of the commencement of God’s wrath.
- Rosenthal continues to point to the prophecies that speak of cosmic disturbances as indicators for the commencement of God’s wrath. He ignores scriptures such as Zephaniah 1:7-2:3 where the description of the Day of the Lord commences with economic hardship and ruin: “Wail, you who live in the market district, all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be ruined” (Zeph. 1:11). Rosenthal places the third seal of economic depression prior to the Great Tribulation, yet Zephaniah clearly includes the economic hardship as part of the Day of the Lord, also warning that the Day of the Lord will be “a day of trumpet and battle” (1:16), something Rosenthal denies, believing war is man’s wrath on man, not God’s. Clearly, Zephaniah disagrees. The commencement of the Day of the Lord is not defined by cosmic disturbances, but rather the preparation for the soon return of the Lord.
- Daniel warned that 70 weeks of prophecy would be decreed for the Jews (Dan. 9:24). At the end of the 69th week the Messiah was cut off (Dan. 9:26). The future and last week of Jewish prophecy will involve the counterfeit Messiah (Dan. 9:27), who will be a means God uses to restore the covenant people back in relationship with Him. Jesus warned of this when He said “I have come in my Father’s name and you did not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him” (John 5:43). The rejection of their true Messiah will result in their accepting the deceitful claim from the Antichrist that he is their Messiah. The proclamation after three and a half years by the Antichrist that he is no longer the Messiah but god will shatter the relationship, and the Antichrist will seek to destroy the Jews. It is during this time that many Jews will finally realise their grave error and be restored in relationship with their true Messiah, Jesus.
Rosenthal’s Pre-Wrath doctrine stands or falls on his ability to prove that the Seal Judgements of Revelation 6 are not the wrath of God. However, the weight of evidence in scripture proves that the first seal release of the Antichrist is most definitely an expression of the wrath of God on a rebellious world. This means that Rosenthal’s belief that the rapture only occurs prior to the Trumpet Judgements is a poor interpretation of scripture with dangerous consequences.
Definition of the Day of the Lord
An accurate use of the term “Day of the Lord” is important in the determining the timing of the rapture. Rosenthal, for example, continually refers to the use of the term “the Day of the Lord” by Old Testament prophets in conjunction with the wrath of God, as a means to determine the timing of the rapture in his favour. However, he fails to make a distinction between the various “days” used in scripture to understand what is meant by “Day of the Lord.” A clarification needs to be made between man’s Day, the Day of Christ, the Day of the Lord, the Day of destruction and the Day of God as the distinctions between these terms favour a pre-Tribulation rapture. The definitions of these five terms are as follows:
- Man’s day: is a time starting with the fall of Adam until the return of Jesus. It is a time of “man’s judgement” (1 Cor. 4:3 [KJV]), when God through His permissive will allows mankind the freedom to do as he wills through human government.
- The Day of Christ (1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6; 1:10; 2:16): refers to the rapture when Jesus returns to the sky above the earth to gather His Church to Himself. He then returns with His Bride to heaven.
- The Day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6; Ezek. 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1; 2:31; Amos 5:18; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7; Acts 2:20; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10): As opposed to man’s day where man is responsible for his own destiny, the Day of the Lord refers to the direct intervention in the affairs of men by God after the Church has been raptured to heaven. It commences immediately after the rapture, covering the Tribulation (Rev. 6-19), Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:1-10) and the Great White Throne Judgement (Rev. 20:11-15).
- The Day of destruction (Job 21:30; Joel 1:15): is the White Throne of judgement which takes place at the end of the Millennium. Standing before the White Throne are those who have rejected God’s provision of salvation through Jesus, and will attempt to attain salvation through their own righteousness. God’s wrath against their sin will be expressed by their being cast into the Lake of Fire – hence the term Day of destruction.
- The Day of God (2 Pet. 3:12; Rev. 21): Refers to the end of the Millennium when the earth is destroyed by fire and God establishes a New Heaven and a New Earth. The day of God ushers in a new eternal heaven and earth, where the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven to earth and Jesus will reign from the heavenly city.
Rosenthal’s definition of the Day of the Lord includes only the last months of the Great Tribulation, when the wrath of God is poured out during the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements. This allows him to then claim his theory as being the correct timing of the rapture. God uses the Old Testament prophets to continually warn of a time when He would vindicate His righteousness and hold both the Gentile nations of the world and Israel to account. This will occur just prior to (and including) the return of Jesus. The focus of the Day of the Lord prophecies in scripture are therefore on the warning of the judgement of God that will be poured out on an unrighteous world, an important call for mankind to repent. Just because the focus of God’s prophetic warning through the OT prophets is on the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements, it does not mean that the Day of the Lord only includes those judgements.
Rosenthal wants to focus only on the Biblical references to the Day of the Lord as a time of God’s wrath and judgement on all nations, as this gives credence to his Pre-Wrath rapture theory. He discredits any scriptural references to the Day of the Lord that relate to the Millennium Kingdom, as this allows for an extended definition of the Day of the Lord, from the rise of the Antichrist at the beginning of the Tribulation to the end of the Millennium. For example, he believes there is no evidence linking the term in that day with the day of the Lord. Yet Amos uses the term in that day as direct reference to the Day of the Lord. Amos, immediately after prophesying of the judgement of sinners by the Lord during the Day of the Lord, goes on to write “in that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore it ruins, and build it as it used to be” (Amos 9:11). He goes from speaking of judgement to describing the blessings that will occur on the return of Jesus with the establishment of His Kingdom. Therefore “restoring David’s fallen tent,” directly links the Day of the Lord with the Millennium Kingdom and a time of blessing. Isaiah also uses the term in that day to refer to the millennial blessing, “In that day the Branch of the LORD (the Messiah) will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel” (Isa. 4:2). Also “In that day that the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 10:20).
For a broad definition of the Day of the Lord being that it is a time when God becomes involved in the affairs of men, the term “that day” has significant relevance to the Day of the Lord, as Isaiah is able to show the important link between the judgements that will fall on the earth and the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom with the restoration of the nation of Israel.
There is clear evidence in scripture that the Day of the Lord is not, as Rosenthal would have all believe, restricted to a time of God’s wrath – but is under the broader definition of a time of God’s intervening in the affairs of men for both judgement and blessing. The day covers both darkness and light, just as a normal day starting at 18:00, as is customary for the Jews, and ending 24 hours later would do.
2 Peter 3:10 “The heavens will disappear”
In denying that the Old Testament references to the Millennium are a part of the Day of the Lord, Rosenthal believes that the only evidence pre-Tribulationists have to extend the Day of the Lord into the Millennium is 2 Peter 3:10, “but the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Rosenthal, however, does not believe that Peter is referring to the end of the Millennium restoration of the earth, but rather links 2 Peter 3:10 with the outpouring of God’s wrath and the return of Jesus at the second coming, despite the fact that there is clearly no scriptural evidence that heaven will pass away during the Great Tribulation.
However, Peter’s prophecy matches John’s description in Revelation 21:1 of a New Heaven and New Earth created at the end of the Millennium in preparation for the New Jerusalem coming down to earth. This is confirmed by John, who describes the fact that heaven will flee away from the presence of the Lord at the Great White Throne judgement which is also at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:11). Peter’s description of the earth in 2 Peter 3:10 speaks of the elements being destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it being laid bare. Here Peter is given reference to the corrupted earth, tainted by the effects of sin, being replaced by a pure new earth at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 21:1). For Rosenthal to believe that Peter is referring to the Great Tribulation wrath of God is to be totally out of context with scripture.
The Scofield Reference Bible gives further confirmation that the Day of the lord extends to the end of the Millennium. Scofield points to when Job, in his response to his accuses, answers that a sovereign God will deal with the wicked by saying, “the wicked [are] reserved to the day of destruction. They shall be brought forth to the day of wrath” (Job 21:30 [KJV]). In this scripture Job refers to “a day of destruction” which is a day of wrath. This is not Rosenthal’s Day of the Lord with the judgements of God, as it is in context with White Throne judgement at the end of the Millennium, where the wicked receive their just rewards for deeds done on earth. This is confirmed in Joel 1:15, when he also uses the term Day of destruction in connection with the Day of the Lord. The Day of destruction is a day within the Day of the Lord when mankind is finally held accountable for its sins and refers directly to The Great White Throne of Judgement.
The fact that Joel includes the Day of destruction in the Day of the Lord is evidence that the Millennium is part of the Day of the lord. This also means that the broad definition of the Day of the Lord being a time of God intervening in the events of mankind – which would be included the Tribulation – is correct.
Finally, the Apostle Peter also refers to “the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7). The reference by Peter to a Day of destruction, in context with the previous scripture’s use of the term, is evidence that Peter is referring to the Great White Throne of Judgement and not, as Rosenthal believes – the wrath of God in the Great Tribulation.
Rosenthal asserts that Peter’s asking “where is this ‘coming’ He promised?” (2 Pet. 3:4) refutes the pre-Tribulation belief that 2 Peter 3:10 is at the end of the Millennium. According to Rosenthal, to apply the question where is the promise of His coming? “To the end of the millennium makes no sense, since Christ will already be present and ruling during His millennial kingdom.” The problem is that in 2 Peter 3:4, Peter is warning that “in the last days” – a time which is before the Tribulation, not as Rosenthal suggest related to 2 Peter 3:10 – the leaders of the apostate church will ridicule the idea of the rapture of the Church, and the triumphant return of Jesus to earth at the end of the age.
Peter’s warning supports Paul’s caution in his second letter to the Thessalonians, that there will be a falling away from the faith before the rise of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3). Unbelievably, Rosenthal links 2 Peter 3:4 directly to 2 Peter 3:10 as evidence against an extended Day of the Lord. In Isaiah 61 a comma represents over 1 900 years, with Isaiah 61:1-2a referring to the suffering Messiah and Isaiah 61:2b-3 referring to the triumphant kingly Messiah. So, for Rosenthal to suggest that 2 Peter 3:4 is said in connection with 2 Peter 3:10, merely because of the proximity of the scripture, is poor exegesis. 2 Peter 3:4 is relating to a time just prior to the Tribulation and 2 Peter 3:10 is Peter describing the end of the Millennium.
Rosenthal believes that 2 Peter 2:10 is prophesying that the period of divine wrath is so severe during the Great Tribulation that the heavens and the earth will need renovation after the Day of the Lord. Evidence that he uses to back this belief are Isaiah 65 and 66 where, according to him, the chronology of the scripture shows that there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth before the Millennium Kingdom. Walvoord explains in his book Major Bible Prophecies that “we frequently find the Millennium and the eternal state considered in the same passage, much as the first passage.” Evidence of this can be seen in Isaiah 61 which was quoted earlier. A further example is in Malachi where the first coming of Jesus is mentioned after a reference to His second coming “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes (second coming). He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers (first coming)” (Mal. 4:5). The order in which prophecy is given cannot be used as concrete evidence to back a theory, especially when it contradicts clearer revelation on the matter, as we have in Revelation 21:1, where the apostle John specifically relates the New Heaven and New Earth to the end of the Millennium.
Plain logic must also be used to understand the timing of Peter’s prophecy, “the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Pet. 3:10). Rosenthal claims that the rapture occurs midway through the Great Tribulation, so for Peter to be describing the wrath of God that occurs after the rapture, that would mean life on earth would come to an end after the rapture, and clearly this does not match with scripture. There are three heavens referred to in scripture – God’s dwelling place, the universe and the sky. Peter is referring to either the sky or the universe or possibly both (heavens – plural). How would it be possible for life to continue if the atmosphere, which requires a delicate homeostasis (balance) of gasses for life to exist on earth, disappears? If Peter is referring to the universe, the end result is the same, as the earth requires the sun for temperature control and planets to maintain its orbit. Either way, life could not exist on earth after “the heavens will disappear with a roar.” Peter can only be referring to the end of the Millennium, when God restores creation, cleansing it from the taint of sin in preparation for a New Heaven and New Earth. Both scripture and logic demand that this is the correct interpretation.
2 Peter 3:10 is to be read as an overview of the Day of the Lord with “but the day of the Lord will come like a thief” referring to the start of the Day of the Lord at the rapture and “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” describing the end of the day of the Lord after the thousand-year rule of Jesus.
Just as the comma in Isaiah 61:2 represents 2 000 years between the first coming of Jesus and His future return, so the coma of 2 Peter 3:10 represents the time between the start of the Tribulation and the end of Millennium Kingdom (1 007 years).
The Last Trump
In the earlier document on The Post-tribulation Theory is Flawed, the claim by post-Tribulationists that the seventh trumpet blast is “the last trumpet call” of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:52) was critiqued. The critique revealed that the seventh trumpet is not one specific judgement, but it announces the final judgements that will bring in the Kingdom and the return of Jesus. The seventh trumpet, therefore, cannot be a post-Tribulation rapture along with the return of Jesus to earth, simply because the trumpet announces the start of the last plagues, not the return of Jesus to set up His kingdom.
It is no surprise, then, that Rosenthal takes it even further and makes the claim that the seventh seal is the last trump – according to him all the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements are contained in the seventh seal. So, the seventh seal must, therefore, be the last trump that Paul refers to in his description of the rapture in 1 Corinthians. 15:52. This is a huge leap, with no exegetical basis for Rosenthal to make this claim – besides the fact of the twisted logic that a seal can become a trumpet blast suits Rosenthal’s theory. The seriousness of this matter is that he continually accuses pre-Tribulationists of poor exegesis.
Rosenthal claims that in Zephaniah’s description of the Day of the Lord, it states that it will be “a day of trumpet” (Zeph. 1:14-16). Rosenthal then makes the claim that the last trumpet blast of the Day of the Lord will be the “last trump” (1 Cor. 15:52) of the rapture. This claim is exegetically very weak, as Zephaniah is referring to the Great Tribulation judgements and the return of the Lord, and is implying that there will be trumpets sounding throughout that period of time, not just in the beginning where Rosenthal places his rapture.
Also, Rosenthal admits that the use of a trumpet is widespread throughout the Jewish culture, being used for celebrations for many different occasions from feast days to gathering the troops for battle (which is the case for Zeph. 1:16) and from marriage ceremonies to announcing the presence of a king. So why, then, does “a day of trumpet” (Zeph. 1:16), the sounding of which refers to the repeated calls to battle during the day of the Lord, have to be the last trump of the rapture?
In Numbers 10:1-7, the instruction by God to use two trumpets of hammered silver to call the 12 tribes together is given to Moses. So, for the pre-Tribulationist the correct interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:52 is simply that the rapture will occur at the last blast of a sequence of trumpet blasts, which will be the call for the Church to assemble. There is no scriptural evidence that Paul is referring – as Rosenthal is suggesting – to the trumpet blast of battle during the Day of the Lord.
The 144 000 and the great multitude of Revelation 7
Rosenthal criticizes the belief by pre-Tribulationists that the great multitude of Revelation 7:9-17 are martyred saints from the Great Tribulation, by saying, “according to pre-Tribulation rapturism, the church is gone, the 144 000 have just been sealed, there is no indicator that the two witnesses have met with success (Rev. 11:3-10), and the gospel angel has not been sent forth (Rev. 14:6). If these are martyrs, how does such a multitude (from every kindred, tongue and tribe) get saved so quickly, particularly during a time pre-Tribulationists say God is dealing with Israel?” Rosenthal’s belief that the great multitude in Revelation 7:9-17 is the raptured Church who is taken out of the Great Tribulation, seems at first glance to be a logical explanation, which then gives credibility to his Pre-Wrath belief. However, his reasoning does not stand up to close scrutiny:
- Rosenthal continually assumes his understanding of the chronological sequence of Revelation is the correct one, and therefore bases his criticism on his understanding of the timing of events during the Tribulation. The fact that there is a strong conviction that Revelation 7 is a parenthesis, where two separate groups of Tribulation saints are revealed, and that his view is an extremely simplistic understanding of a complex book, does not hinder Rosenthal from passing judgement. He, for example, believes that because the two witnesses are revealed in chapter 11 and the “gospel angel” is revealed in chapter 14 of Revelation, according to his chronological sequencing, the ministry of the two witnesses and the angel’s ministry must be after the great multitude is depicted in heaven in Revelation 7. Pre-Tribulationists believe that the great multitude depicted in heaven in Revelation 7:9-17 occurs during the Great Tribulation, as martyrs are being added daily to the number in heaven right up to just prior to the return of Jesus at the end of the Tribulation. Therefore, rather than being given a specific time allocation, the account of their presence in heaven is included as a parenthesis by John. Most of those martyred will be killed by the Antichrist after the ministry of both the two witnesses and the “gospel angel”.
- Rosenthal also ignores the argument by pre-Tribulationists that many millions will attain salvation after the rapture, because of a knowledge they have of the End Times given to them by the Church before the rapture. These people will also be responsible for witnessing and passing on their prophetic knowledge to others during the Tribulation, thus bringing more to salvation. So, to argue that pre-Tribulationists do not have an explanation for the “great multitude” is a serious error on the part of Rosenthal. The first three and a half years of the Tribulation will be a crucial time for mankind, where they are required by God to choose whom they serve. Through the grace of God, man will have this last opportunity to make his choice, before the Antichrist demands that all mankind wears the Mark of the Beast.
- A particular weakness of both post-Tribulation and Pre-Wrath theories is their belief that the rapture occurs after the persecution of believers by the Antichrist. God gives power to the Antichrist to make war against the saints during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 13:7), and with John describing the number in heaven as a great multitude, one has to wonder how many believers will be left when the rapture occurs. Far from being the glorious event of the Bride being raised to heaven that is depicted by Paul in his letters to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians, it would resemble a bedraggled, victimised remnant, claiming a pyrrhic victory of their tormentors as they manage to escape final annihilation. This is hardly the picture that scripture paints of the triumphant return of the Lord Jesus for His Bride.
- If the great multitude is the raptured Church, then who is the elder that questions John? He must be one of the 24 elders, who in Revelation 4 – before the first seal is broken – are depicted dressing in white, implying that they are like the great multitude who have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus. They are also seated on thrones and wearing crowns of gold on their heads, rewards that Jesus promised the raptured Church (Rev. 2:10; 3:21).
- In answer to his own question to John on who the great multitude is, the elder explains “’These are they that come out of the Great Tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb” (Rev. 7:14). Grant Jeffery points out in his book Apocalypse, the coming judgement of the nations that “the verse indicates that this group of redeemed saints is ‘coming out daily’ as huge numbers are persecuted and beheaded for their faith” (1). This reveals that great multitudes have responded to the Lord’s last opportunity to repent. Unfortunately, it will be at great cost, as by accepting the Lord Jesus as their saviour they will refuse the mark of the beast and pay the ultimate price.
- One of the reasons God chose a race of people for Himself is that through His dealing with those people He would be able to reveal Himself to all mankind. Related to this would be that the Jews, as the chosen people, would also carry the message of the one true God to the pagan nations. In this requirement of their relationship with God the Jews have failed miserably. Throughout the majority of their history, they have not been willing to witness to the nations they have come into contact with. The choosing of the 144 000 Jews by God seems to have the purpose of at last fulfilling this requirement. Rosenthal, however, points out that nowhere in Revelation are the 144 000 called evangelists, but he makes no effort to explain his version of the purpose of the 144 000, besides stating that chapter 7 portrays them as “the godly remnant of Israel on earth in the Great Tribulation”. However, the angel calls these 144 000 Jews “the servants of our God” which does indicate they do the will of God, which is to reveal to mankind who is the true God and how to come to know Him. Also, Rosenthal once again fails to expand on his reasoning; he does not explain how Jews, who he says are not saved believers, can be a “godly remnant!”
- The great multitude are depicted standing before the throne of Jesus holding palm leaves, which as Rosenthal correctly points out is a symbol of victory. Why would the Church be given palm leaves when they are promised by Jesus to be seated with Him on thrones (Rev. 3:21) wearing crowns (Rev. 2:10)? No mention is made by Jesus of the Church being given palm leaves to symbolise their victory over death in His letters to the seven churches, but rather the Church is given symbols that display sonship. The palm leaves would, however, be an apt symbol for those who suffered greatly through the Great Tribulation yet held on to their faith.
- The promise Jesus makes to the Church is that they will reign with Him (Rev. 2:26), not serve before His throne. Those believers who suffer and are martyred during the Great Tribulation attain a special position of serving before the throne of God in heaven, a position they, it seems, will continue into the Millennium as they are not part of the Church so do not receive the promises given to the Church.
- The promises given to this great multitude that they “never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.” (Rev. 7:16), seems a very strange promise to a Church that comes from all parts of the world. But is not strange for those who became believers after the rapture and who have had to suffer the harsh conditions of the Great Tribulation. These believers will not be free from suffering; but will experience hunger and deprivation of the harsh economic times and live through the dramatic climate changes experienced during this period. While God will protect and provide for His children during the Great Tribulation, they will not be exempt from experiencing the hardships.
To answer Rosenthal’s question as to how there could be such a large multitude of people who have attained salvation in the seven years of Tribulation is simple. Knowledge given by the Church prior to the rapture will bring multiple millions to salvation when the rapture occurs. That is the purpose of this blog, to bring the Church to the understanding of the vital need for the Church to witness regarding the pre-Tribulation rapture. The prophecy of Revelation 7 gives us the evidence of the fruit of this labour, a labour which Rosenthal is seeking to erode.
(1) Jeffery, Grant. Apocalypse the coming judgement of the nations. Bantam Books, 1992.
Elijah must appear first
The belief that Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses of Revelation 11 is widely held, as the scriptural evidence backing that hypothesis is by far the strongest:
- Moses was the receiver of the Law and Elijah was the leading prophet.
- It was Moses and Elijah who spoke with Jesus when He was transfigured on the Mountain (Matt. 17:3).
- The miracles performed by the two witnesses are those that were performed by Moses and Elijah in their respective times of ministry.
- Moses, having died before Israel passed into the promised land, represents the saints who are resurrected from the dead at the rapture, “The dead will be raised imperishable,” (1 Cor. 15:52), while Elijah, who was taken up alive to heaven in a fiery chariot, represents the saints who are raised alive; “we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51).
- Both Moses (Ex. 33:21) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:11) experienced the Lord’s presence pass before them on Mount Sinai.
Based on the belief that Elijah is one of the two witnesses, Rosenthal is convinced he has played a trump card when he quotes the second-last verse of Malachi as evidence of his Pre-Wrath theory: “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes” (Mal. 4:5). This scripture conclusively states that Elijah must appear in Israel before the coming of the Messiah, a belief held by the Jews for millennia. Rosenthal uses this understanding of Malachi 4:5 to point out what he believes are two fatal flaws in the pre-Tribulation belief:
- Most pre-Tribulation expositors have Elijah and Moses ministering during the Tribulation, so the rapture must occur after the commencement of this ministry and therefore there cannot be a pre-Tribulation rapture.
- If, however, Elijah begins to prophesy prior to the commencement of the Tribulation to allow for a pre-Tribulation rapture this then destroys the pre-Tribulationists belief that the rapture is imminent, as the appearance on the scene of the prophet will be prior to the arrival of the Messiah. Therefore, this would advertise the soon appearing of the Messiah.
Despite the confidence Rosenthal has in his reasoning, there are a number of problems with his argument:
- The rapture is the return of Jesus to the sky above the earth to collect the Church, a mystery that was hidden from the OT saints and only revealed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:50-56 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. So, it is the return of Jesus to the earth at the end of the Great Tribulation as the righteous Judge that is the focus of OT prophecy, which is referred to by them as the great and terrible Day of the Lord. Therefore, the interpretation of Malachi 4:5 is that Elijah will appear at some stage prior to the commencement of the Great Tribulation, at least 1 260 days (three and a half years) before the return of Jesus as King.
- The earlier chapter titled Explanation on imminence explains that there are numerous scriptures implying that the rapture will be imminent. However, as was explained within that chapter, the rapture will occur during Yom Teruah and the analogies, such as of the house-owner being on the watch for the thief in the night (Matt. 24:36-44; 1 Thess. 5:2-4) and the servants expectantly waiting for their master (Mark 13:33-37) relate to the Jewish feast day of Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets). So, the answer to Rosenthal’s accusation that the rapture cannot be imminent is that just as the Jews are required to expectantly watch and wait for the crescent moon to signal the new month, and the commencement of the celebration of Yom Teruah, the Church is also required to be expectantly watching and waiting for the rapture, as it is our great hope (Titus 2:13).
- Rosenthal is so involved in attempting to prove that pre-Tribulationists have difficulty in placing the arrival of Elijah before the great and terrible Day of the Lord (Mal. 4:4-5), that he does not take note of the even greater problem his theory has by placing Elijah’s arrival in the middle of the Great Tribulation. John explains that the two witnesses “will prophesy for 1 260 days,” which is three and a half years. At the end of that period of prophesying the Antichrist kills the two witnesses and the bodies of Moses and Elijah will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three and a half days, and the world will gloat over their death sending each other gifts (Rev. 11:10). Rosenthal does not explain how it is possible that the two witnesses, who only start their ministry approximately 21 months before the end of the Great Tribulation, can possibly be killed by the Antichrist in Jerusalem, 21 months after the Antichrist and the False Prophet have been defeated at the battle of Armageddon and thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20).
Jerusalem is the city where the Antichrist will rule and where He kills the two witnesses. It is also the city to which Jesus returns on leaving heaven. So, the only other possible explanation for Rosenthal’s timing is that he believes Jesus is going to take more than 21 months to defeat the Antichrist and conquer Jerusalem after His return to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation. However, the Apostle John tells us that although Jesus returns to earth with the Church, who is now riding with Him as part of His army, it is Jesus on His own who strikes down the nations (Rev. 19:15). Jesus is returning as King and Judge to set up His kingdom. There will not be any protracted battle, and the judgement against the nations arrayed against Him will be virtually instantaneous. To suggest otherwise would be to limit the power of Jesus as God.
If Elijah is one of the two witnesses, his appearance in the first half of the Tribulation to begin his ministry which will end well before the return of Jesus to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation, fulfils Malachi 4:5 and fits well with a pre-Tribulation rapture. It is Rosenthal’s Pre-Wrath theory, however, that overshoots the mark, with him predicting that Elijah only appears as late as the middle of the Great Tribulation.
The apostasy and man of sin
Rosenthal argues that Paul’s statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day (the rapture) shall not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction,” means that the apostasy and revelation of the “man of sin” occur within and not before the 70th week of Daniel. This being the case, then the belief by pre-Tribulationists that the rapture starts at the beginning of the Tribulation must be flawed, as the apostasy and the revealing of the Antichrist occur before the rapture of the Church. Rosenthal believes his reasoning has “mortally wounded” pre-Tribulationism. On studying his explanation, however, it is Rosenthal’s reasoning that becomes “mortally wounded.” To make his case, Rosenthal needs to show that the apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin cannot occur before the Tribulation. In his attempt to do this, Rosenthal makes the assumption that the apostasy (abandoning, or falling away from the faith) referred to by Paul is related to the Jews. Rosenthal goes to great lengths to equate the apostasy of the Antichrist – his erecting an image of himself in the Temple and calling himself God – with Antiochus Epiphanies the Syrian ruler who tried to Hellenize the Jews in 167 BC.
According to Rosenthal, the apostasy occurs at the time the Jews sign the covenant with the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27), which will bring about a spurious peace to the Middle East. The “revealing of the man of lawlessness” does not occur, according to Rosenthal, until the Antichrist erects his image in the Temple. The Jews will then recognise the Antichrist is not their Messiah. So, according to Rosenthal, “the man of sin” will then be revealed to the Jews.
The Achilles heel of Rosenthal’s logic is that he does not explain how Paul, writing to a predominantly Gentile Christian Church, is warning them of a Jewish apostasy. This is extremely poor exegesis of scripture. How is it possible for the Jews to rebel against the faith (Christianity), when they do not believe in Jesus in the first place? Jews are in a state of apostasy now, having rejected the shed blood of Jesus as atonement for their sin. Jews strive to attain heaven through a doctrine of works. The Jews without their Temple and animal sacrifices, now believe that obedience to the 613 Mitsvot (Commandments) will keep them in relationship with God.
The apostasy Paul is writing about in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is a Christian apostasy, not a Jewish one. Paul is referring to is the Ecumenical Movement which will continue to divorce itself from the true Faith by embracing all religions. Rosenthal can hardly argue that this is not already taking place. The WCC was formed in 1948 and the ecumenical move of the Roman Catholic Church started in 1962. The apostasy Paul is warning of is an apostate Church, not as Rosenthal would have you believe, a Jewish apostasy.
The Antichrist will be clearly revealed to the Church prior to his signing the covenant agreement with the Jews, as he must be a leading member of the Ecumenical Movement. He must also be seen as a political leader of some prominence, who is capable of bringing peace to the Middle East. To be recognised as a leading negotiator and mediator between nations capable of coordinating a Middle East peace deal, the Antichrist must have achieved worldwide recognition and therefore by this time he would easily be identified by the Church as Paul’s prophesied “man of lawlessness”. This occurs prior to the rapture of the Church, just as Paul prophesied.
One coming but two returns
In his attempt to prove that there is only one coming of the Lord at the end of the age, Rosenthal strains the gnat and swallows the camel. Rosenthal goes to great lengths in his efforts to show that the use of the Greek word parousia (coming) in the New Testament means that there will be only one coming of the Lord at the end of the age.
So, according to Rosenthal the second coming of Jesus is not a single act but takes place over an extended period of time. He, however, neglects to consider the possibility that there may only be one coming of the Lord which includes two returns! Just as there is a first and second coming of Jesus, there will be a first and second return of Jesus.
Rosenthal postulates that “when men speak of Christ’s first coming, it is not restricted to His birth alone. Rather, it includes the annunciation to Mary, the incarnation, Jesus’ reasoning at the temple at age 12, His growth before men and God, His public ministry, His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. All of this comprises His first coming. In a similar way, His second coming will include the rapture of the Church, the Day of the Lord judgement, and His return in Glory”.
However, he makes no attempt to give the order of the events associated with the second coming or even explain his thoughts on how the second coming is one event. Most importantly, as Rosenthal insists that “the word coming/ parousia … means a coming and continued presence,” (1) he needs to explain how the Rapture and the return of Jesus to earth are one event. He must explain the details around such events as the Bema judgement seat and the marriage supper of the Lamb, and how these events can be taking place in heaven during the Great Tribulation, when Jesus is on earth meting out the wrath judgements.
Rosenthal makes no effort to balance his theory with the events of the second coming. He also makes no attempt to explain how Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians that, after the rapture, the Church will never again be separated from Jesus – “and so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thess. 4:17) – finds no place in his theology, as his theory has the Church in heaven separated from Jesus who is on earth.
A pre-Tribulation rapture with its two distinct “returns” of Jesus as part of the second coming, is able to give a clear and ordered process for the Church and the prophetic events at the end of the age:
- At the rapture of the Church just prior to the start of the Tribulation, Jesus returns for His Bride (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
- Satan is cast out of heaven to earth (Rev. 12:9).
- The Antichrist signs the covenant agreement with Israel (Dan. 9:27).
- The Church is in heaven for the Bema judgement seat (2 Cor.5:10), which is followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9).
- The Antichrist, after three and a half years of peace, erects an image of himself in the Temple which signals the commencement of the Great Tribulation (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15).
- The Trumpet and Bowl Judgements are meted out to mankind during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 8:6-9:21; 16:1-21).
- Jesus returns with His Church at Armageddon and the Antichrist and False Prophet are defeated (Jude 14; Rev. 19:11-21).
- The judgement of the righteous and unrighteous Gentiles takes place (Matt. 13:41-43; 25:31-46).
- Satan is bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:2).
- Jesus sets up His earthly Kingdom ruling from His capital Jerusalem (Zech. 14; Rev. 20:4).
Just as Rosenthal indicates that there are multiple events included in the first coming of the Lord Jesus so, too, are there multiple events associated with the second coming of Jesus. Included in these events are two returns! The events given in the description of a pre-Tribulation account of the last seven years are all part of the second coming, and the collection of the Church at the rapture is the clear commencement of the event.
As clarified in Part 8 of this series in the last chapter: The Rapture of the Church in contrast to the return of Jesus at the end of the age there are clear and contradicting scriptures relating to the return of Jesus for His Church at the rapture, and the return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom. They are not one and the same.
Rosenthal refers to the coming of the Lord as “a coming and continual presence,” implying, although he avoids saying it directly, that the rapture takes place when Jesus returns to earth. This produces some difficulties for Rosenthal’s Pre-Wrath theory, but he avoids answering these questions. So once again, just as with the post-Tribulationists, Rosenthal falls foul of the analogy of the Church being the Bride of Christ. Instead of the marriage supper of the Lamb there is the wrath of the Great Tribulation. If the rapture and the return of Jesus to earth are linked, as Rosenthal suggests, it is amazing that in all of the references to the rapture and the return of Jesus to battle there is no mention in scripture of the two being linked and the saints joining the army of God to return to earth for battle.
Some other points that Rosenthal raises in his one-return theory that need to be discussed are:
- In his attempt to refute the pre-Tribulation rapture Rosenthal denies that the Church returns with Jesus at the end of the Great Tribulation. Rosenthal has no basis for bluntly stating that the “Holy ones” Jude refers to in verse 14 as being with Jesus at His return to earth are not the Church, when there is scriptural evidence to the contrary! The Church is called to be holy, for God in heaven is holy (1 Pet. 1:16), and Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 refers to believers as “holy people,” so why can the Church not claim the title “Holy ones?” Which indicates that Jude, speaking of Jesus returning “with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones,” is referring to believers. The Apostle John’s specific mention of the armies of heaven being dressed in “fine linen, white and clean” in Revelation 19:14 refers to a Church washed as white as snow (made holy) through the cleansing blood of Jesus. The Church is going to rule with Jesus during the Millennium, so it is logical that the Church is the army of God descending with Him to earth to set up that Kingdom. So, Rosenthal has no scriptural basis for bluntly stating that the “Holy ones” are not believers, when there is scriptural evidence to the contrary!
- Rosenthal goes to great lengths to connect the parable of the Tares and the Wheat, where angels separate the righteous from the unrighteous, as the return of Jesus at the rapture. The problem with this is that Jesus gathers his own (1 Thess. 4:13-18; Matt. 25:1-13), not angels. The parable refers to the return of Jesus to earth, where all Gentiles are judged and angels collect the wicked first (Matt. 13:30a), followed by the righteous (Matt. 13:30b). If the parable was referring to the rapture, as Rosenthal suggest, then the righteous would be collected first. However, this is not the case as the parable clearly states “first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into the barn” (Matt. 13:30).
- Believers are taken to the Father’s House in heaven by Jesus after the rapture. The apostle John records Jesus saying to His disciples: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you (this statement follows the practice of a Jewish marriage ceremony); I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). Jesus is very clear that the Church is going to be taken back to be with Him in heaven, not returning to earth. If this scripture is not fulfilled at the rapture, when will it be fulfilled? The only other possible time is at the end of the Millennium with the New Jerusalem descending from heaven to earth and in that instance the believers do not go to the Father’s house, on the contrary the Father’s house comes to them!
(1) Rosenthal, Marvin. The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990 (P222).
The day Noah entered the ark
Rosenthal continually refers to Matthew 24:38-39 as evidence of a Pre-Wrath rapture, “for in the day before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
According to Rosenthal Jesus taught this scripture to the disciples to reveal to them that the rapture will occur just before the wrath of God is poured out on to the earth, thus confirming his Pre-Wrath belief. However, Rosenthal neglects to refer to the story of Noah in Genesis 7:10, where the scripture explains that Noah and his family entered the ark seven days before the commencement of the flood, which is an exact type of the Church being raptured prior to the seven years of Tribulation, with the rise of the Antichrist being the commencement of God’s judgement on mankind.
The two-fold purpose of the Antichrist
In his continued efforts to undermine the pre-Tribulation rapture doctrine Rosenthal asks the question, “on what basis can it be argued that since the Church was not in the OT, it cannot be in the 70th week?” This is an excellent example of how Rosenthal manipulates the question to suit his criticism of a pre-Tribulation rapture. The claim Rosenthal gives in his question is not a claim that pre-Tribulationists make. The claim that is actually made is that the 70th week is clearly a time that matches the OT. Here, God is focusing on the Jews, and Israel as a nation plays a major role in End Time prophecy, and God becomes directly involved with the judgement of mankind. Therefore, since God’s focus is on the Jews and not the Church, and the Church is accounted blameless and not part of God’s judgement, there is no need for the Church to be in the Tribulation. So, the Antichrist is used by God for a twofold purpose. He is released by Jesus on the breaking of the first seal into a world of sinful and wicked people, and mankind is handed over to a depraved mind in preparation for a worldwide judgement for their rebellion against God. However, God will also use the Antichrist to deal with the self-righteousness of the Jews, referred to as the time of Jacob’s trouble in Jeremiah 30:7 (KJV). The twofold purpose of the Antichrist is not intended for the Church, as they are not rebellious against God and have chosen the true Messiah as their Christ. So, there is no point in requiring them to go through the Tribulation.
The twofold purpose of the Antichrist is elaborated below:
1. The Jews are self-righteous.
God has not forgotten his Covenant promise to the Patriarchs and He will restore the Jews back into relationship with Himself. To do this He has to deal with the self-righteous attitude of the Jewish people who have continually felt that they must earn their salvation by obedience to the law. Jesus continually reprimanded the scribes and the Pharisees of His day for their rigid adherence to the letter and traditions of the law, and the pride they took in their own self-righteousness and the burden they put on people who followed their teachings.
For the last 1 900 years the Jews have not been able to follow the Mosaic laws of animal sacrifice because of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70. Yet their doctrine of salvation is still dominated by works. To gain acceptance with God, the modern Jew, in obedience to the Rabbis, feels he must obey all the 613 laws. In following laws such as attending their synagogue, obeying dietary kosher laws and giving to the poor, the Jew is performing mitzvahs which they believe are credited to their righteousness, which God will then bless with salvation. During the Tribulation, God is going to use the Antichrist to expose their ignorance and reveal the true righteousness of God – Jesus.
The Tribulation period must be understood from a perspective that God is using it as a time of His dealing with the Jews. The angel Gabriel specifically tells Daniel that “Seventy ‘sevens’ (490 years) are decreed for your people (the Jews) and your holy city (Jerusalem) to finish transgressions, to put an end to sin…” (Dan. 9:24, emphasis added). 483 years of that prophetic time-period have been completed, as the prophetic time-clock stopped at the death of Jesus. There are only seven years left of the prophecy given to Daniel relating to the Jews.
Those seven years will be used by God to reveal to the Jews that their salvation can only be through Faith in Messiah Jesus. To do this, God allows a false messiah to take centre stage – he is the Antichrist.
2. Dealing with a godless and unrighteous generation.
God, in His anger with man, will eventually hand man over to a reprobate mind. He will allow the rise of the Antichrist who will be accepted by an ungodly and unrighteous world as their saviour. This total rebellion against God gives Him just cause to bring judgement down on mankind. Just as He did during OT times, God once more becomes directly involved with the affairs of mankind.
An example of how the Tribulation period is in contradiction with the Church period, but fully in line with the Old Testament, is the use of fire as a direct punishment of men by God. In the Old Testament Elisha calls fire down from heaven twice, each time to consume a captain and his fifty men sent by king Ahaziah to arrest him (2 Kings 1:9-12). Then in the NT, when a Samaritan village refused hospitality to Jesus, the disciples John and James asked if Jesus wanted them to call fire down from heaven to destroy them (Luke 9:54). Jesus rebuked them for their recrimination of the Samaritans and their desire for vengeance, as this was not the attitude He wanted from men who were going to spread the good news of salvation which pivoted on the message of brotherly Love. Yet John, who was the focus of Jesus’ disapproval, writes in Revelation 11 that the two witnesses will breathe fire on those who seek to harm and devour them. This is certainly not the doctrine of turn the other cheek, which Jesus prescribed during the Sermon of the Mount – but it is definitely a move directly out of the Elijah handbook of how to deal with hostility against a man of God.
The message from this is that the Church period, is over. There is no longer the command not to resist an evil person. God is going back to the Old Testament eye for an eye (Matt. 5:38-39). The Tribulation period is a time of God’s judgement on mankind, and evil men will be held accountable. This is one of the main reasons Jesus has removed his Church. He cannot expect His Church to resist retaliation, when He is metering out vengeance on the world. That is why those saints under the altar, who have been martyred by the Antichrist, can call out for vengeance for their spilt blood (Rev. 6:10). Their deaths will be avenged.
Both post-Tribulation and Pre-Wrath supporters criticize pre-Tribulation rapture followers of holding an “escapist theology,” which they believe will leave people unprepared for the persecutions that Christians and Jews will face during the Tribulation, especially during the last three and a half years of the Great Tribulation. The real danger, however, exists in these two theories wanting to take the moral high ground and their aggressive labelling of believers in a pre-Tribulation rapture as weak Christians. These attacks are silencing Christians from witnessing to the unsaved about the rapture. Those who chide pre-Tribulationists for believing in the Church escaping the judgement of the Tribulation, and who mock pre-Tribulation followers for not being prepared to face its hardships, are playing into Satan’s hand. As this blog on pre-Tribulation reveals, scripture clearly shows that there will be a pre-Tribulation rapture. And if that is not taught to people, then they will not be fed the knowledge which will enable them to make a saving decision to follow the true Messiah – Jesus. Silencing the teaching of the pre-Tribulation rapture is effectively condemning millions to the Lake of Fire! The people who remain on earth after the rapture will need knowledge of the events that will be occurring during this time to give them clarity of understanding. Ezekiel 33:7-9 warns that a watchman – a person who knows God’s prophetic plan – must warn the lost of what is coming, or God will hold that believer accountable for their lives. Therefore, God will hold the post-Tribulation rapture followers responsible for rejecting a pre-Tribulation rapture and condemning millions to an eternity apart from God. Not an enviable position to be in!
Satan’s plan has always been to dethrone God and elevate himself to be worshipped and adored as God in His place. To this end, he has continually waged war against God and His saints. It is during the Tribulation that Satan comes closest to achieving his ultimate goal to make himself “like the most high” (Isa. 14:14). The lies and deceptions during the Tribulation will be so powerful they will blind many to the Truth, and they will believe the lie. God uses this time to test mankind and give them one last opportunity to make a decision to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Those people who up until the time of the rapture have hardened their hearts to God’s call, but have knowledge of the End Time events, will be able to discern the truth and make a choice which will save them from an eternity in hell. Salvation during the Tribulation will be because people see Biblical prophecy being fulfilled before their eyes – and knowledge of those prophecies will enable them to make their decision to recognise Jesus as Lord of their lives. It is the responsibility of the Church to provide the world with the prophetic knowledge and it is, therefore, the responsibility of the Church to preach a pre-Tribulation rapture.
THE PRE-WRATH RAPTURE CRITIQUED Bibliography:
Criswell, W.A. Expository Sermons on Revelation. Zondervan, 2014.
Jeffery, Grant. Apocalypse the coming judgement of the nations. Bantam Books, 1992.
Levy, David. Joel The Day of The Lord. The Friends of Israel, 1987.
Rosenthal, Marvin. The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990.
Scofield, C.I. The New Scofield Reference Bible. Oxford University Press, 1967.
Walvoord, John F. Major Bible Prophecies. Harper Paperbacks, 1991.
English translation of the Latin text [Christiania, 1890, pp. 208-20] provided by Cameron Rhoades, Latin instructor at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth.
- 2 Peter 3:10 Commentary: http://www.preceptaustin.org/2_peter_310.htm (29/10/2013). Apostasy Now Topic – Pre-Trib Rapture: The New Eschatology.
- http://www.apostasynow.com/topics/trib/pretrib07.htm (29/10/2013) Instructor at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Proofs of a pre-Tribulation Rapture.
- By John Henry: http://prophecy.landmarkbiblebaptist.net/rapture-proofs.html (21/11/2013)/
- Revelation 5 – The Lion, the Lamb and the Scroll: http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/6605.htm (13/01/2014)
- The Day of the Lord by Jeff Miller: https://bible.org/article/day-lord (09/11/2013)
Note: Bible texts are from the Thompson Chain – Reference Bible (NIV) or Authorized King James Version. 5 – The Lion, The Lamb and the Scroll.