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Friday, August 8, 2008

A Critique of Chuck Missler's Pre-Tribulation Rapture Doctrine

The Following is a summary of a two session teaching by Chuck Missler on the “rapture”.

Missler is a well known American Evangelical Preacher and has a radio and TV ministry broadcasting from his church. His programmes go around the world.

A correspondent sent me a DVD of these two teaching sessions in the hope of convincing me that the rapture is at the beginning of the Tribulation. The attempt failed. But I have given a fair representation of Missler’s teaching here in this summary – a fact that my correspondent agreed with. I try to be fair to the point of view of those I disagree with.

In my view Missler has presented a very good teaching from a Pre-tribulation (Dispensational) viewpoint. It is as good as any other I have read or heard. I just think the idea is faulty.

In order for any potential reader to be able to follow it easily what I have done is reproduce the summary in full first and then this is followed by a full critique. You will find my critique is Biblically based – and follows the very principles of interpretation Missler would say he adheres to, but from which he deviates at key points. I try to avoid any arguments from sentimental reasons and just stick to quoting the scripture with reasonable comment.

In the summary I have basically reproduced what Missler said, or put up on screen as he spoke, so all of the comments or scriptures he quotes at each point to support his teaching are scriptures he actually used at that point to support his point. I have not created a “straw man” in order to knock it down – Missler created the teaching himself, I have done my best to faithfully reproduce his teaching.

Also I recognize that he was teaching his church, the “party faithful” - so to speak. Thus his presentation is not necessarily as he would present the subject if he was presenting to a more skeptical or antagonistic audience. So his “proofing” was not as rigorous as it may have been in a different context. Basically, as their pastor, he was saying what they wanted to hear him say in a pastoral way, and if he had said any different he may have found himself looking for a different church to pastor. However this is the only material I had to use so I have used it.

I hope you enjoy.


Chuck Missler: The Rapture: The Blessed Hope.

Session 1.

The Rapture: Definition: At some indeterminate moment Christ’s disciples will be caught up from the world and this world will continue on.

Greek: Harpatzo “caught up”.

The Promise:

John 14:1-3 where “you” = the disciples of Christ.

The background to this text is the Jewish wedding procedure:
(1) Betrothal – a marriage covenant. Price negotiated. Bride “set aside”, “sanctified” from then on. Future couple drank wine together to seal this covenant.
(2) Bridegroom departs to his father’s house to prepare a room for his bride. Meanwhile she prepares for the wedding – dress, etc. She doesn’t know when he will return – there is no known precondition or event before his return (This is the doctrine of imminence).
(3) When he returned there was a surprise gathering – often at midnight.
(4) The Bride was taken to his house. His attendants usually shouted a warning to let her know he was coming so she could dress.
(5) The Wedding proper: She was escorted to the Bridal chamber, she remained veiled.
(6) The Wedding was consummated sexually.
(7) The Groom would come out of the chamber and announce the marriage was consummated.
(8) The Marriage supper followed – often lasted up to 7 days.
(9) Bride was unveiled after the celebrations.

Parallel the church:
(1) Covenant 1 Cor 11:25.
(2) Purchase price 1 Cor 6:9-20.
(3) Bride set apart Eph 5:25-27.
(4) The Bridegroom has left. He is preparing a home, the bride is making herself ready.
(5) An escort accompanying his on his return 1 Thess 4:13-18.


(2) The Process:


How will he gather his bride, i.e. the rapture?

The Rapture/Resurrection is implied in OT, e.g. Job 19 “in my flesh I shall see him”.


I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

“caught up” Greek harpatzo, Latin rapemur, from which the English “rapture is derived.

So “rapture” is a Biblical word to describe this event.


Seven “raptures” in the Bible:

Enoch.

Elijah.

Jesus (Acts 1)

Philip (Acts 8)

Paul (2 Cor 12)

Body of Christ (1 Thess 4).

John (Rev 4:1)


Harpatzo is used in 4 of these.


Rev 12:5 “caught up” – the ascension of Christ but it points also to the rapture of the body of Christ.


Flesh can’t inherit the kingdom – therefore it needs to be changed (1 Cor 15).

All God needs to recreate our body is one unit of our DNA.


1 John 3:2 – we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is.

Jesus is living in more than 3 dimensions now. This implies we are going to be multidimensional.


2 Cor 5:1ff

“eternal in the heavens”.

The Greek is subtle, literally, “the earthly house of this tabernacle/tent” – implies a temporary dwelling.

“a Building of God” – more permanent idea here.

The spiritual realm is the real – this physical realm is the unreal – it is mainly open space.

“house which is from heaven”

The word for “house” only 2x in Bible, here and Jude 6 (which parallels Gen 6:1ff) “their own habitation”.

Jude 6 also describes it as “their first estate”, Greek arche = a principality of angels or demons.

The angels disrobed themselves of this habitation to commit sin. This same body they abandoned will be given to us.

2 Cor 5:3 “naked”

When we die the spirit is with God, the body decomposes.

“naked” = to be with God without a body. Paul is wanting to be reclothed, not be naked.

Greek “clothed upon” = to put one piece of clothing over top of another already being worn. I.e. Paul is hoping to be raptured before he dies so the eternal dwelling is immediately overlaid over the physical dwelling.


Doctrine of Imminence:

(i) The Second Coming could happen at any time.

(ii) There is no known prophecy of scripture to precede it.

(iii) It could happen today or tomorrow.

I.e. it is the next expectation, the next event, in God’s program.

Proof For the Doctrine of Imminence:

(1) Believers are taught (in scripture) to expect the Saviour from heaven at any time.

Phil 3:20
Titus 2:13
Heb 9:28.
1 Thess 1:10, 4:18, 5:6
Rev 22:20

To live in a moment by moment expectation of the return of the Saviour. This very fact
knocks out the idea of preceding events or conditions.

(2) Paul did seem to include himself in with those who looked for Christ’s return.
1 Thess 4
2 Thess 2:5.

(3) Timothy was admonished to keep this 1 Tim 6:14.

(4) Heb 10:27.

(5) Idea of “occupy till I come” Luke 19:13, 2 Thess 3:10-12, James 5:8. These imply there was such an expectancy that some were overreacting to it and giving up normal life.


A Warning: There are two extremes amongst believers in the rapture:

(1) Rapturitis –“It’s so near let’s do nothing”.

(2) Rapturemania – setting dates.

Matt 24 – “no man knows” – in Mark’s version “not even the Son”.

Therefore we should be ready – this is imminence.


A Question: Why should we escape persecution/tribulation – most of the church have had it for most of the past 2000 years?

We won’t – but the Great Tribulation is not just general persecution.

Persecution comes from the world and from Satan.

The Great Tribulation has its source in God’s wrath.

Another Question: Why is the timing not clear?

Answer: Because God wants to take Satan by surprise.


The Rapture Itself:

There are hundreds of verses on the Second Coming. They seem to fall into two clusters:

The Second Coming.

The Rapture.

Dan 2:44-45, 7:9-14, 12:1-3

John 14:1-3

Zech 14:1-5

1 Cor 15:1-53

Matt 13:41, 24:15-31, 26:64

1 Thess 4:13-18

Mark 13:14-27, 14:62

Rom 8:19

Luke 21:25-28

1 Cor 1:7-9, 16:22

Acts 1:9-11, 3:19-21

Phil 3:20-22

1 Thess 3:13

Col 3:4

2 Thess 1:6-10, 2:8

1 Thess 1:10, 2:19, 5:9, 5:23

2 Peter 3:1-14

2 Thess 2:1

Jude 14-15

1 Tim 6:14

Rev 1:7, 19:11-20:6, 22:7,12,20.

1 Tim 4:1


Titus 2:13


Heb 9:28


Jas 5:7-9


I Peter 1:7,13


1 John 2:28-32


Jude 21


Rev 2:25, 3:10

Defn: The Second Coming is Christ’s visible coming in power to set up his kingdom.

Defn: The Rapture is Christ's Coming for the Church.

These two clusters appear to be contradictory to each other:

In one Christ comes in secret – the other it is public

In one you don’t know when in the other there are heaps of signs.

This implies two different events, 2 phases – one for the church, one for Israel.

Second Coming

Rapture

No Translation

Translation of all believers

Translated Saints return to earth with Christ

Translated saints go to heaven

Earth judged

Earth not judged

Follows definite predetermined signs

Imminent – any moment, no signs

Predicted in OT

Rapture not in OT

All men on earth affected

Believers only

Concludes the day of Wrath.

Rapture is before the day of Wrath

Satan bound

No reference to Satan

Jesus comes with his own

Jesus comes for his own

Jesus comes to earth

Jesus comes in the air

Jesus comes with his bride

He claims his bride

Every Eye shall see him

Only his own see him

Great Tribulation ends and Millennium starts

Great Tribulation begins

OT saints raised (possibly later, Dan 12)

Only church believers raised/Raptured


Session 2.

Three Things to cover:

(4) The Prophetic Profile.

(5) The Problems.

(6) The Proposal.

4.The Prophetic Profile:

Jesus gave 4 disciples a private briefing on the Second Coming.

Matt 24,25 – Matthew – took it down in shorthand.

Mark 13 – Peter’s account.

Luke 21 – A Reconstruction.

Jesus highlighted a lot of “non-signs”, then he gives the key to understanding end time events – Dan 9, last 4 verses. The Seventy Weeks.

Missler then gives an outline of the 70 weeks drawing from, and following, the book, “The Coming Prince” (Sir Robert Anderson).

Decree made in 445 BC – April 6, 32 AD, Palm Sunday = 173880 days.

Interval between 69th and 70th week of an undetermined period.

70th Week = Tribulation, divided in two at the centre, Last half is the “Great Tribulation.

Interval events:

(i) Christ Crucified.

(ii) Temple destroyed.

(iii) Emergence of Antichrist – he must emerge as a world leader before he “enforces the covenant”.


Tribulation Events:

(i) Starts when Antichrist “enforces Covenant”.

(ii) Middle of 7 years he violates the covenant = “abomination of desolation”.

(iii) Last 3 ½ years = Great Tribulation = God’s wrath (Quotes Dan 12 “Trouble”).

(iv) = Jacob’s Trouble (Jere 30).

(v) Zechariah – 2/3 Israel killed, 1/3 survive.

(vi) This time shortened” (Matt 24) because if it was left to run out the world would destroy itself.


Matt 23 – the purpose of history – was for Jesus to gather his own.

The tragedy of history is that they would not.

Israel “desolate” until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11).

The purpose of the Tribulation is to drive Israel to Christ.

Hosea 5:15.


(5) The Problems:

Most people in interpreting prophecy have problems with two things:

(1) Ecclesiology.

(2) Hermeneutics.

Your ecclesiology will derive from your hermeneutic.

Root Question: How is the church distinctive?

(i) Body, Bride of Christ.

(ii) Paul quotes Gen 2:24 in Eph 5 to describe the union of Christ and the church at the parousia.

(iii) Church is exempted from the wrath of God 1 Thess 5:9, Rev 3:10.

(iv) Dan 7 – Antichrist “prevails” over saints, Rev 13:7 also. But Matt 16:16 says “will not prevail”. Hence a contradiction here?

John the Baptist is the end of the OT, the greatest of the OT prophets. Matt 11:11-13. He was saved under OT ground rules.

There are different types of saints: OT saints, Church, Saved after church raptured (Tribulation saints).

Jesus had to leave for the Holy Spirit to come to the church. Holy Spirit is always here in some sense but he came in a special way at Pentecost.

There may be more people saved by the Holy Spirit in the Tribulation than ever before.

OT Patterns of Rapture:

(i) Enoch and the Flood of Noah.

(ii) Isaac absent in the story after his sacrifice until his bride appears.

(iii) Ruth – on the threshing floor.

(iv) Dan 5 – the fiery furnace – Daniel not there.

All these point to a Pre-Trib rapture.

3 groups in the flood :

(a) Those who perished.

(b) Those who were preserved through the Flood.

(c) Those removed prior to the flood..

Tradition has it Enoch was born and was translated on the Day of Pentecost.

Prediction: Church was born of Pentecost and will be raptured on Pentecost.


OT allusions to Rapture:

Isa 26:19-21 – wrath and rapture.

Zeph 2:3 “hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”

Psalm 27:5.


(5) The Problems:

(1) Amilleniallism. The common view of the Church, Catholic and Protestant.

(2) Post –tribulationism.

The Return of Christ to Rule:

1848 references in OT. 17 books give prominence to it.

318 References in NT, 23 books talk of it.

For every prophecy of Christ’s first coming there are 8 for his second.

(1) Amillennialism:

Origin laid the groundwork in allegorizing scripture. He said Christ wasn’t really coming to rule in a literal sense.

Augustine picked up on this and invented Amillennialism.

Obviously the idea of a “coming King” was not acceptable in the culture of the churches’ new found acceptability in the Roman empire. Pastor’s were now state employees and so didn’t preach the Second Coming, but allegorized it.

Augustine’s doctrine became the core doctrine of the church – not just the Catholic Church.

The Reformation didn’t change this. Therefore most Protestant Denominations are:

(i) Amillennial.

(ii) Post-tribulational.

Problems with Amillennialism:

(i) Denies unconditional prophecies throughout the OT of a coming kingdom.

(ii) Destiny of Israel in God’s covenants – e.g. Rom 11.

(iii) The Promise given to Mary by Gabriel that Jesus would sit on the throne of David, which did not exist at the time.

(iv) Idea of an earthly kingdom confirmed by NT many times.


The Systematic Theologies of the church nearly always overlook, in eschatology, the subject of 5/6 of the Bible = Israel.

Israel and the Church:

Many have taught that the church has inherited the promises given to Israel – Replacement theology. This simply shows they don’t understand the promises given to Israel.

Three distinctions: Different origins, different missions, different destinies.
(i) Denies Israel’s place in God’s programme.
(ii) Makes God into a liar.
(iii) Is the basis for Christian Anti-Semitism.

There is a direct line of thought from Augustine to Auschwitz.


The 70 weeks deal specifically with Israel, not the church.

Paul’s dichotomy – there are 3 groups – Israel (Jews), Gentiles, the church.

These three groups reappear after Rev 4.

Eschatology:

A spectrum of views: Amillennial – Post-Millennial – Pre-Millennial.

Pre-Millennial: A spectrum: - 3 subsets: Post-Trib, Mid-Trib, Pre-Trib.


Post- Trib View:

There is not single Post-trib view:
(1) Classical Post-Trib. Payne, et al.
(2) Semi-classical Post-trib. Alexander Reese.
(3) Futuristic Post- Trib. G.E.Ladd.
(4) Dispensational Post- trib. R.H.Gundy.

Problems with Post- Trib views:
(1) All deny the NT teaching of Imminency – to “expect the Lord at any moment”.
(2) Requires the church to be there in 70th week. But Israel and the Church are mutually exclusive.
(3) Imply the church experiences God’s wrath.
(4) How can the bride “come” with Christ as she has to be raptured first.
(5) Who will populate the Millennium? Missler says all unbelievers are wiped out at the Second Coming (in the judgement).
(6) Who are the sheep and the goats (Matt 25)?
(7) How can the virgins “buy oil” (Matt 25) without the mark of the beast?

Mid- Trib views:

(i) Rapture at midpoint of Tribulation.

(ii) Also a variant view. The rapture occurs ¾ way through the 70th week.

(iii) Are a “pre-wrath” position.

(iv) Deny Imminancy.


Pre-Trib view:

Rapture takes place before the 70th week – some time before – it could be days or years.

(1) 70th week defined by a covenant (Dan 9:27).

(2) Great Trib = last half of 70th week.

(3) The world ruler cannot be revealed until after the rapture (2 Thess 2:6-9).

(4) The interval between the rapture and the rise of Antichrist has to be long enough for Antichrist to emerge, negotiate covenant, and enforce it.


2 Thess 2: Summary:

Problem under discussion: They thought the Tribulation had begun and they had missed the rapture.

“The Day of the Lord” = the big climax.

“falling away”= an apostacy.


(6.) The Process:


The apostacy – Restrainer removed – Man of sin revealed – Day of Lord.


Hermeneutics:



Missler has a diagram of hermeneutics and prophetic views here. I will post it ASAP.

Where you sit on this scale is determined by your hermeneutic.

In prophecy things fit together better the more literal you take it.


I liked his hermeneutics diagramme in general. But it is not necessarily the case that post trib writers are non literalists. The root question is this: how much was intended to be literal when written and how much was intended to be symbolic?

That is a question worthy of debate. If something was intended to be symbolic (even if it is capable of a literal interpretation) then it would be wrong to interpret it literally.

It is a question of intention. And that is the crux of it. Different people feel differently about this. But no one knows for sure.



Pre – Trib rapture found in:

(1) Epistle of Barnabus.

(2) Irenaus – Against Heresies.

(3) Hippolytus.

(4) Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho.

(5) Ephraem the Syrian (a major Eastern Writer). In many of his hymns and sermons.

(6) You can trace a thread of it all the way through church history.

Architecture of Revelation:

(1) Lampstands = churches Rev 1:20 – no lampstands on earth after 4:1 – they are in heaven 4:5, implies rapture.

(2) 24 Elders ($:5) = the Redeemed (5:9,10). Out of 50 mss only one of them has the third person. All the rest are the first person plural. Priests and kings imply the church.

(3) Tribulation begins when the scroll is opened, ch 6-19 = 70th week.

(4) 7 churches (Ch 1-3) outline church history. First 3 - the promise to the overcomer is postscripted to the letter, in the last 4 it forms part of the letter. Last 4 also have explicit references to the Second Coming. We are told Thyatira will go through the Great Tribulation – but the others aren’t. Philadelphia told it would not. Each of the churches was surprised by the letter: Those who thought they were doing well were criticized, those who thought they were not doing well were told they were OK.


Israel is God’s Timepiece. Things are getting set up for the Tribulation. The Temple will be rebuilt by the midpoint.

Magog (Exek 36) invasion prior to the 70th week and happens after the rapture of the church.

10 Reasons for a Pre-Trib Rapture:

(1) Rev 3:10 “Kept from the hour..” Greek “ek” is where we get our word “exit” and implies “out of”.

(2) Church cannot go through the wrath of God.

(3) Luke 21:36 – we escape, not endure the Tribulation.

(4) Luke 21 “When these things begin to happen. Look up…” – not “after they happen”.

(5) In wartime we call our ambassadors home, 2 Cor 5:20.

(6) Restrainer (= Holy Spirit) has to be removed before Antichrist comes.

(7) “Twinkling of an eye” implies the rapture is not an extended activity.

(8) “in the air” – not “on the earth”.

(9) Woman in Rev 12 = Israel, not the church.

(10) Marriage supper is in heaven and happens before Rev 19:11-14.


Section 2: A Critique of Missler’s Teaching on the Rapture.

First I will analyse out the thread of the argument he puts forward without looking at the detail. Later on I will examine points in detail.

In this section I will put Missler's comments in italics, my own response in normal type.


Chuck Missler: The Rapture: The Blessed Hope.

Session 1.

Defn: At some indeterminate moment Christ’s disciples will be caught up from the world and this world will continue on.

(caught up) Greek: Harpatzo.

  1. The Promise:

John 14:1-3 where “you” = the disciples of Christ.

The background to this text is the Jewish wedding procedure:

No difficulty with anything he says here only to note:

(1) John 14 (Which clearly talks about the rapture) has no time references so in itself does not prove a pre-trib or a post-trib (or any other) approach to the rapture. All it does is establish that Christ is coming for us – a point that all believer sin Christ coming agree with, no matter what rapture theory they hold.

(2) The analogy of the Jewish marriage to Christ and the Church here is happily used by proponents of all schools. It does not, in itself, prove a position on the rapture.


(2) The Process:

Really I have no difficulty with Missler in this section. The rapture is the rapture and the dynamics are the same whether it is pre, mid or post – Trib.


(3) Doctrine of Immanency:

The Second Coming could happen at any time.

There is nothing to precede it.

It could happen today or tomorrow.

I.e. it is the next expectation, the next event, in God’s programme.

Missler gives 5 points and verses to back this up.


(4) Some bits and pieces:

(a) There are two extremes:
(1)
Rapturitis –“It’s so near let’s do nothing”.
(2)
Rapturemania – setting dates.

Matt 24 – “no man knows” – in Mark’s version “not even the Son”.

Therefore we should "be ready" – this is imminence.

(b) Why should we escape persecution/tribulation – most of the church have had it for most of the past 2000 years?

We wont – but the Great Tribulation is not just general persecution.

Persecution comes from the world and from Satan.

The Great Tribulation has its source in God’s wrath.

(c) Why is the timing not clear? Because God wants to take Satan by surprise.


(5) The Rapture Itself:

There are hundreds of verses on the Second Coming. They seem to fall into two clusters: The day of the Lord and the rapture.

Defn: The Second Coming is Christ’s coming in power to set up his kingdom. So it is obvious, public.

The Rapture is Christ’s coming for the church which is “in the twinkling of an eye”.

Missler then compiles a table of verses of two columns, one set of verses he claims speak of the Second Coming (the Day of the Lord), the other speaking of the rapture.

The basis of this distinction seems to be one thing: The prior determination that there are no prophecied events before the Rapture. Hence Verses that clearly have other events prophecied before the coming of Christ are put into the “Day of the Lord” list. Verses that do not have events so prophecied are put in the “Rapture” list. The difficulty I have with his two lists is that he has assigned verses to the rapture list that (for other reasons) rightfully belong in the Second Coming list. I will come back to this.

These two clusters appear to be contradictory to each other:

In one Christ comes in secret – the other it is public

In one you don’t know when in the other there are heaps of signs.

This implies two different events, 2 phases – one for the church, one for Israel.

Missler then proceeds to draw a chart to define the scenario for each of these events, the Second Coming and the Rapture. The difficulty here for me is that he:

(i) Has assumed at the beginning of his argument a silent, secret pre tribulation rapture and a public post tribulation coming.

(ii) Then on the basis of that assumption he has allocated scriptures to one event or the other.

(iii) Then he has constructed a definition of each event based on the scriptures he has now allocated.

In other words he has performed a circular argument: He has:

(i) Assumed the rapture has a certain form (secret, silent, etc),

(ii) Then he has allocated scriptures to a list that fits that scenario,

(iii) Then he has constructed out of those scriptures a scenario of what the rapture event will be like.

(iv) Then (Hey presto!) he has the conclusion – the rapture is exactly like what he assumed it would be like at the beginning.

This is not a very satisfactory method of argument. We will shortly look at the verses he uses in each list to see if his allocation of them is justified.

Session 2.

The Prophetic Profile:

Jesus gave 4 disciples a private briefing on the Second Coming.

Matt 24,25 – Matthew – took it down in shorthand.

Mark 13 – Peter’s account.

Luke 21 – A Reconstruction.

Jesus highlighted a lot of “non-signs”, then he gives the key to understanding end time events – Dan 9, last 4 verses. The Seventy Weeks.

Missler then gives an outline of the 70 weeks drawing from, and following, the book, “The Coming Prince” (Sir Robert Anderson).

No problem here with Sir Robert Anderson. I have taught the same material from his book myself. But to note two things:

(1) I have been involved in another chat group where others took a strong objection to Anderson’s reconstruction and other reconstructions were offered. I have not had time to research their objections yet but they seem to centre around the fact that the “Decree” that starts the time sequence of the 70 weeks may have a different Julian date, and so the prophecy would not be that exact, and also that the actual time period between the start and finish of the 70 weeks of years may not be 173880 days. However I personally want to follow Anderson so this is not important in this discussion here.

(2) The structure of the 70 weeks neither proves nor disproves any of the rapture theories – pre, mid and post trib views all happily can accept this so it is neither here nor there. It gives us the structure of the tribulation but not when the rapture occurs in relation to that.

Matt 23 – the purpose of history – was for Jesus to gather his own.

The tragedy of history is that they would not.

Israel “desolate” until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11).

The purpose of the Tribulation is to drive Israel to Christ.

Hosea 5:15.

I like this verse, haven’t seen that before.

I have no difficulty with the idea that the Tribulation will drive Israel to Christ. I adhere to that view myself.

Also I liked his idea of Jesus living in a multidimensional universe now – I had come to a similar conclusion myself. As had C.S. Lewis in his Narnia book, the Horse and his Boy.


(5) The Problems:

Most people in interpreting prophecy have problems with two things:

(1) Ecclesiology.

(2) Hermeneutics.

Your ecclesiology will derive from your hermeneutic.

The following discussion begs the question. It is assuming the correctness of his position on the church, Israel and the Gentiles and on a literal interpretation. As such it cannot be considered to be a “proof” because it is starting out assuming the conclusion to be true and that is the basis of the argument. I.e. it is circular.

Much of what he says is common ground anyway, but the root question is, “Has the church in some way replaced Israel in God’s plans, and if so in what way and to what degree?”

Missler is adamant that Israel has not been replaced in any way. Others feel there has been a “replacement”. But “replacement” may be the wrong word to use here. It is not a word I would like (though I have used it) rather I would want to argue that the first phase of Israel’s part in the plan of God has been fulfilled (the Messiah has come and redeemed us by his blood), and as a result Israel has been “set aside” (to use Paul’s words in Rom 11). I would argue there is a second phase to Israel’s prophetic future but it is not apart from Christ (the apostle Paul would say the same thing).

The only way to be grafted into God’s eternal plan now is through Christ – everything else is “window dressing” for the main event. “Christ” is the main event in God’s prophetic program. The “window dressing”, including Israel, is important and is prophesied in scripture but too often interpreters confuse it with the main event, which is Christ and his body/bride.

Paul teaches, in Romans 11, that Israel will again come back into the centre of God's plan - but it is clear that this end time restoration is through them becoming Christians - because they are to be regrafted back into the same olive tree that we are grafted into. Thus Missler's claim that "Israel and the church are mutually exclusive" does not hold up. Rather it would appear that they are ultimately included in the one reality - Christ and thus they are not "mutually exclusive. The true picture, it would seem, from Romans 11, is that Israel was part of God's plan and purpose until Christ came, their purpose then being largely fulfilled. God's purpose then continues on in Christ and to that purpose Israel will be ultimately reconciled.

Points Missler raises:

(i) The distinctiveness of the church – I agree, and I’m not sure who disagrees. Ecclesiology (Missler says) is at issue. But I don’t think so. The issue is not the nature of the church (on which most of us agree - no matter what theory we hold of the Second Coming) but the issue is, “What is the place of Israel?” This I have already discussed above. The question is this:

Does Israel have a future place in God's purpose that is outside of Christ, or is that future place in God's plan inside of Christ? I doubt that any Bible believing Christian denies the future of Israel in God's plan according to Romans 11. But many would question whether the pure literalist interpretation is correct - the idea that Israel has a future in and of itself and so sacrifices, temple, and etc will be restored.

(ii) Jesus had to leave for the Holy Spirit to come to the church. Holy Spirit is always here in some sense but he came in a special way at Pentecost.

But again this begs the question. It is a corollary of a Pre-trib position. I mount a reasonably strong case for the restrainer to be an angel on this blog

stjohnrevelation.blogspot.com in the notes on chapter 17. We will return to this point later.

(iii) OT Patterns of Rapture:

Again Missler is assuming a pretrib rapture here and that these OT pictures support that . They are not proofs. If the pretrib position is correct then these may point to it – but if it is not correct then they don’t point to it at all.

I liked the bit about Enoch and the day of Pentecost though I suspect myself Jesus will return on the Day of Atonement (or close to it). That seems to me to be a better prophetic type of the Second Coming.

(iv) OT allusions to Rapture:

I liked these verses – hadn’t really seen any of them before. I will use them in my next teaching on the subject.

But none of them prove a pre-trib rapture. All they indicate is that God’s people will not be included in the wrath of God, a point to which I agree.

Actually because these scriptures were written to Israel primarily (all being OT scriptures) one could argue that they don’t help a pretrib rapture position at all as pretrib interpreters assume Israel will be present in the tribulation.

The root issue here is “What is the wrath of God?”

Missler assumes: Great Tribulation = Wrath of God..

But nowhere in scripture is this equation made and I think it is wrong – for many hundreds of good reasons, all of them verses of scripture.


(5) The Problems:

These are only problems if they are wrong. Missler is assuming "Pretrib is right therefore they are wrong." But At this point I don’t think Missler has proven his position to be right – and there are many reasons why I think that – all of them scriptures.

I liked his historical background to Amillenialism. I had never heard that.

Post- Trib View:

He lists several Post Trib views – making the point that there is not a single post trib view. However I have been around long enough and read enough books to know the same criticism could be made of Pre-trib views.

Mid- Trib views:

(i) Rapture at midpoint of Tribulation.

(ii) Also a variant view. The rapture occurs ¾ way through the 70th week.

(iii) Are a “pre-wrath” position.

(iv) Deny Imminancy.

I’m with him on mid trib views – I can’t see how they make any sense. It has to be either a pretrib or a post trib rapture.

Pre-Trib view:

Rapture takes place before the 70th week – some time before – it could be days or years.

(1) 70th week defined by a covenant (Dan 9:27).

(2) Great Trib = last half of 70th week.

(3) The world ruler cannot be revealed until after the rapture (2 Thess 2:6-9).

(4) The interval between the rapture and the rise of Antichrist has to be long enough for Antichrist to emerge, negotiate covenant, and enforce it.

I hadn’t thought about his point (4) here before. I had assumed that Antichrist would be a world ruler for some period before he takes his seat in the temple. But I hadn’t thought about the fact that he must be a world ruler of some note in order to negotiate and enforce the treaty. This surely suggests he is a very prominent player before the events of the 70th week.

2 Thess 2: Summary:

Problem under discussion: They thought the Tribulation had begun and they had missed the rapture.

“The Day of the Lord” = the big climax.

“falling away”= an apostacy.

The Process:

The apostacy – Restrainer removed – Man of sin revealed – Day of Lord.


Pre – Trib rapture found in:

Missler gives a list of suspects from church literature. But one could do the same for a post trib rapture very easily. It proves nothing as any particular writer can be wrong about their theory. If every generation of the church had a writer that said, “The world is flat” it still would not make it right. The test of “rightness” is what scripture says, not what other writers say.

Architecture of Revelation:

Missler gives 4 points about the structure of the book of Revelation and how these point to a pretrib rapture:

(1) Lampstands = churches Rev 1:20 – no lampstands on earth after 4:1 – they are in heaven 4:5, implies rapture.

Missler is wrong here – lampstands appear in Rev 11 and this passage is quite easily symbolically interpreted.

(2) 24 Elders (4:5) = the Redeemed (5:9,10). Out of 50 mss only one of them has the third person. All the rest are the first person plural. Priests and kings imply the church.

To quote the number of texts in not necessarily definitive and Missler should know better. Anyone with a knowledge of Textual criticism will know there are “families” of texts depending on where they came from and when. One text is a copy of another, and so on. If a mistake is made copying a text in the first copy made from the original, then all copies made of that copy will contain the mistake. Textual criticism is a scientific discipline and one can work backwards and determine when a mistake was made and what the likely original text was.

The fact that there are 49 texts reading one thing and one text reading another does not mean the 49 are right – especially if they all come from the same “family” of texts and it can be shown the mistake was made early in that “family’s” history. This can be shown from other church writings that quote the text even if they are not NT mss themselves.

The fact that the vast majority of Textual critics and Bible translators today agree that the third person is the correct rendering in Rev 5:9,10 means that there is considerable textual evidence for that rendering – even if it is not in mss of Revelation.

(3) Tribulation begins when the scroll is opened, ch 6-19 = 70th week.

I have no problem with this.

(4) 7 churches (Ch 1-3) outline church history. First 3 - the promise to the overcomer is postscripted to the letter, in the last 4 it forms part of the letter. Last 4 also have explicit references to the Second Coming. We are told Thyatira will go through the Great Tribulation – but the others aren’t. Philadelphia told it would not. Each of the churches was surprised by the letter: Those who thought they were doing well were criticized, those who thought they were not doing well were told they were OK.

I agree the 7 letters here are a prophetic history. So the rest of his argument I am happy with – except: Philadelphia is told it would not (go through the Great Tribulation)”.

That is not what it is told. It is told it would be “kept from the hour of trial that is coming on the earth”. To equate that “hour of trial” with the “tribulation” is an interpretation and it is an interpretation with no proof. The “Hour of trial” could easily refer to the judgments on the day of the Lord.

A More Detailed Look:

The crux of Missler’s proof for a pre-trib rapture is with the doctrine of Immanency.

So it is here that depth analysis needs to be done.

(1) Believers are taught (in scripture)

(a) to expect the Saviour from heaven at any time.

Phil 3:20

Phil 3:20,21 does not actually say that we are to “expect the Saviour at any time”. It is clearly talking about the rapture (“change our bodies”) but rather the text tells us it is something we “look/wait for” – this would be true whether it was a Pre or a post –trib rapture. I.e. in the subject of “when is the rapture?” it tells us nothing.

Look/wait for = Greek apekdechomai - (literally) to receive out from, wait, long for.

(All definitions from Young’s Concordance).

It has the sense of waiting for something/someone from whom we expect to receive something that we strongly desire.

It does not mean that person is “immanent”. It means primarily, “To wait” - for how long is not implied.

Hence Phil 3:20 simply tells us, “We are waiting for the Lord to come and when he does he will change our bodies…”.

The sense of “yearning/longing” implied in the word does not indicate immediacy. One could say a young man awaiting his wedding is yearning for the day (particularly if he is being chaste with his intended). But there are still things to be done before the wedding night is immanent.

Titus 2:13

Titus 2:13 is also the title Missler gives to this session (“Our Blessed hope”) but one only has to read the verse to see that it is talking, not about some secret rapture of the church, but about Christ’s coming in glory “The glorious appearing” Missler himself, in these two sessions, several times admits the coming of Christ in power and glory is on the “day of the Lord” which he admits is the “great finale”. So this verse talks of Christ’s coming at the end of the tribulation, thus does not support the contention Missler is trying to prove in this section – i.e. Christ could “come at any time”. The “time” in this verse is when Christ “Appears in glory” and this is a specific time – the day of the Lord.

Heb 9:28.

Heb 9:28 again does not support the thesis Missler is trying to prove. All it says is that we “eagerly expect (Christ’s second coming)” – again this is true whether one is pre or post trib. No time clue is given here as to when that might be, except by implication in two things:

(i) The word “appear” is used. And Stanton (one of Missler’s “authorities” – he mentions/quotes him several times throughout this video and appears to be a personal friend of Missler) is quite clear – the word “appear” denotes the visible appearance of Christ on the day of the Lord at the end of the Tribulation.

(ii) He is coming then “to bring salvation”. In the fullest sense this happens in the day of the Lord.

“eagerly await/ Look for” – again is Greek apekdechomai (as in Phil3:20 above)

“appear” Greek optomai = to see, be seen. I.e. it is a visible event.

1 Thess 1:10,

“to await” Greek anameno, “to remain up or back”.

Just has the idea of “waiting”.

1 Thess 1:10 tells us two things:

(i) We are waiting for Christ.

(ii) Christ will deliver us from “the wrath to come”.

Whether or not this verse supports a pretrib rapture depends on whether Missler is right and “wrath = Great Tribulation”. I don’t think so – see article on this blog on this.

1 Thess 1:10 does not support either pre or post trib position. It is simply a statement of fact – we are waiting “for his son from heaven”.

The time clue in the verse is “Who delivers us from the wrath to come” i.e. the deliverance of the church is “pre-wrath” which I agree with. But I don’t agree with Missler’s definition of “Wrath”. He defines it as “the Great Tribulation”. If the “wrath” is on the day of the Lord then we can go through the Tribulation.

1 Thess 4:18

I presume Missler is using this verse as a reference to the whole passage because in itself it means nothing. The “words” we are to comfort ourselves with are v13-17.

It is a classic description of the rapture but it does not say anything about the timing of the rapture. Nor does it have the idea of immanence.

1 Thess 5:6

This verse starts with “Therefore” – in other words, “In consequence of what I have just said do this…”

But the event he has just been talking about in v1-5 is the “day of the Lord” (v2,4) which Missler admits is the Great Finale at the end of the Tribulation. Missler is smart enough not to argue that “the tribulation = the day of the Lord”. Missler knows the “day of the Lord” is the last day of the tribulation when Christ appears in power and glory.

Note:

(i) The “thief in the night” motif here applies to the “day of the Lord” not to some rapture event 7 years previously. It is “that Day” that will not surprise us like a thief.

(ii) It is then (just prior to the Day of the Lord) that men are saying, “Peace and Security”.

Rev 22:20

“Surely I am coming quickly”

But the passage of 2000 years indicates that he did not mean “quickly by your human standards of time”.

There is no doubt that some elements of the early church believed Christ was coming very soon. There are two possibilities we can postulate about this belief:

(i) They were right.

(ii) They were wrong.

There were plenty of other things parts of the early church were wrong about, e.g. the nature and person of Christ took 500 years before it was finally defined. Plenty of people in the church held to wrong conceptions in that time. The fact that some people in the early church believed Christ’s second Coming was very near does not mean they were right in that belief.

In fact it could be argued that the apostle’s writings were, at least in part, an attempt to counteract this sense of immediacy. I will return to this later.

(b) To live in a moment by moment expectation of the return of the Saviour. This very fact knocks out the idea of preceding events or conditions.

The fact is this: Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Jesus could come at any moment”. That is an implication from other statements which are capable of other understandings. I cannot find one statement that would support this contention that they were “taught to live in a moment by moment expectation of the return of the Saviour.”

Missler calls it a “fact”, but there is no scripture to back up the “fact”.

(2) Paul did seem to include himself in with those who looked for Christ’s return.

1 Thess 4

2 Thess 2:5.

I presume by this Missler means Paul expected Christ to come in his lifetime. But was Paul right?

(i) The passage of 2000 years suggests he was not.

(ii) Then there are passages like 2 Tim 4:6 where it is clear Paul expected his own death soon, not the Second Coming. In other words Paul may have thought so in his early years (1&2 Thess are probably his first two letters) but by the end of his life (2 Tim is thought to be his last letter) he knew better.

(3) Timothy was admonished to keep this, 1 Tim 6:14.

What!!?? 1 Tim 4:6 says nothing about the Second Coming in itself nor in the context. In context what it does say is that there are going to be all sorts of EVENTS that will happen “in the latter times”(4:1). It is clear that “the latter times” are not considered to be present when Paul is writing – they are still future, and this is implied by the fact that this is a revelation from “the Spirit” (4:1). It is not something happening “yet”, i.e. when Paul was writing, but was still future. This indicates that Paul had a doctrine of expected future events which he was now writing down (prophecying). And the context implies that these deceptions were going to happen in the church. What Paul was writing to Timothy was an instruction to warn the church of the possibility of these things happening in their church (“if you instruct the brethren” v6). Thus 1 Tim 6 teaches us that there are events that are prophecied before the rapture of the church.

Heb 10:27.

Again I am mystified about this scripture. How does it relate to the rapture or the “immanency” of the Lord’s coming? It doesn’t. All it does is warn that apostates will face judgement.

(4) Idea of “occupy till I come” Luke 19:13, 2 Thess 3:10-12, James 5:8. These imply there was such an expectancy that some were overreacting to it and giving up normal life.

Here Missler himself admits that elements of the early church had misunderstood the idea of the Lord’s coming and its nearness. The instructions of Jesus, Paul and James he refers to here all say the same: “Cool it. Get on with normal life. You are over excited about the Lord’s coming and have got it wrong.”

The point is this: No one denies that elements of the early church had this expectancy of the imminent coming of the Lord – but was it right? So far the evidence of scripture doesn’t support it. This passage seems to be a corrective to that (wrong) idea.

Summary of Missler’s doctrine of Immanency:

He offers 13 scriptures to support various points.

(1) 1 of them (Titus 2:13) expressly contradicts the very thing he is trying to prove from it. By calling “our blessed hope” the “glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” – which is his appearance on the day of the Lord – Missler undermines his own position.

(2) 4 of them (Phil 3:20, Heb 9:28, 1 Thess 1:10, Rev 22:20 ) don’t prove anything one way or the other. They are simply statements of fact – the Lord is coming. Heb 9:28 uses words which indicates it is talking about the “day of the Lord” coming and so does not support a pre trib rapture position.

(3) 3 of them (Luke 19:13, 2 Thess 3:10-12, James 5:8) expressly imply that the expectation many of the early church had of the nearness of the Lord’s coming was wrong and as a result of this wrong understanding they were living wrongly. To this we could add Paul’s own words about his own expectation (Missler refers us to 1 Thess 4 and 2 Thess 2:5 but I’m not sure what he wants us to imply from these references. I think he is building on the use of the words “we/us” to imply Paul considered he would be there, but this may just be a literary style not a conscious statement of faith. Anyway Paul contradicts this personal expectation in 2 Tim).

(4) 1 of them (1 Tim 6:14) tells us of events that are going to happen in the church “in the last days” so by implication denies the doctrine of immanency.

(5) 1 of them (1 Thess 5:6) is talking about the day of the Lord not the rapture so cannot support his position.

(6) 1 of them (Heb 10:27) is not relevant at all.

(7) 1 of them talks specifically of the rapture (1 Thess 4) and that is the point – when is it? We will return to this question.

So the doctrine of immanency (as explained by Missler) is looking pretty scanty on the ground for scriptural proof. As a doctrine it must stand on scriptural statements that support it, and so far that is lacking. It is not enough to establish a doctrine on a “feeling” that an interpreter thinks they find in scripture.

So the basis of Missler’s argument from here on in is the assumption of the Doctrine of Immanency being correct – and as I have pointed out he has not yet proved it from scripture. In other words, Missler’s doctrine of the rapture is based on an assumption which has no scriptural evidence that can be solidly ascertained. That assumption is the doctrine of immanence.

I can’t say this too strongly – he is building a doctrine on the assumption of another idea which may be wrong. At least he has not proven it to be true. And there are reasons why it may not be true – all of them scriptures.

The purpose of the Tribulation is to drive Israel to Christ.

Hosea 5:15.

I agree in principle – I believe that during the tribulation 1/3 of Israel will convert to Christ (become Christians) and the other 2/3 will be killed. Thus the nation of Israel – as a nation and a religious group – will cease to exist. Thus the physical/literal promises to Israel will collapse into the symbolic. There will be no literal “Israelites” by birth to form a kingdom of Israel on earth and the OT promises that Jesus will sit on the throne of David will be fulfilled in a greater sense.

(2) The next section on Ecclesiology and Hermeneutics has some good points but fails to convince me. I do not deny a literal interpretation and fulfillment of prophecy – up to a point – but if something:

(i) Was intended to be symbolic then we can’t insist on a literal interpretation or

(ii) Is fulfilled in a greater sense that subsumes the literal into a symbolic meaning in such a way that both are fulfilled together then we cannot insist on a purely literal fulfillment in a simple sense.

Thus if the OT promises that Israel will rule the earth in the Millennium are fulfilled in such a way that they are fulfilled in Christ and the church (Rev 20:4-6 “They shall reign on earth”), and the church includes all true Israelites (i.e. those who are not only Israelites by natural birth but also true believers by faith in Christ - as in Romans 11) then why would we want to insist on a fulfillment that limits such a fulfillment to those that are only Israelites by birth?

I believe the tribulation will drive Israel to Christ and that at the very end the only people of Israelite descent still alive will also be believers in Christ and so covered by the promises of the New Covenant – as are all Gentile Christians.

Thus the hermeneutic problem dissolves for me. I still believe in a literal interpretation - but it is absorbed into the greater, which is Christ.

Thus the “distinctiveness of Israel” - while it is true today - will cease to be true before Christ returns. The promise to Abraham will have been fully realized in and through Christ.

Obviously I don’t accept that the:

OT Patterns of Rapture:
that Missler gives actually do depict the rapture.

Enoch was raptured hundreds of years before the flood – about 700 years before. His connection with the flood is non existent.

Daniel was not in the fiery furnace – but the three that were were just as much believers in God as Daniel before the episode of the fiery furnace. If Daniel’s absence points to the rapture it would have to point to a partial rapture theory and I can’t accept that. But if the fiery furnace depicts the tribulation then the believers were going through it.

Isaac disappearing from the story? Come on… He is offered in Ch 22 and his bride appears in ch 24. Ch 23 is about the death of Sarah, presumably the next major event in Abraham’s life. Of course he is not mentioned there because it is Abraham‘s story the writer is recording – not Isaac’s. Abraham’s story continues until the end of ch 25. (This would be confirmed by any teacher of Hebrew literature as literature). Isaac’s story does not start actually until ch 26. His non mention in ch 23 is just a matter of protocol – he was not the head of the household, nor the husband of the woman who died – so he had no place in the story.

I can’t see how the story of Ruth points to anything. Missler doesn't explain how and I can't guess. I suspect it is just another verse on a list, which he is inclined to do, to put us off the scent of the real question. It is a red herring.

I like this bit:

OT allusions to Rapture:
Isa 26:19-21 – wrath and rapture.
Zeph 2:3 “hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”
Psalm 27:5.

I’ll use them myself next time I teach on the subject.

(3) The next section on Amillennialism and Postribulationism.

The history of amillennialism is interesting and I can see his point. I Don’t particularly agree with Amillennialism anyway. Only in the sense that, like Preterism and Historicism, it is a possible interpretation of Revelation. It works as far as it goes – just as Preterism and Historicism does – but the problem is always with these theories that Christ doesn’t turn up when he is expected. However they are valid interpretations, just not the final and full interpretation. I argue this position of Revelation having several valid interpretations in my introduction to revelation on this blog.

On the lumping of Post Trib View with Amillennialism:

I can see why he does so (after all Amillennialism is a post trib view in a sense). But it is an unfair association and prefixes a mindset against a futurist postrib view because of an implied association with Amillennialsim and its origins.

I personally moved from a pre trib to a post trib view with absolutely no knowledge of Amillennialism, but as a result of reading the Bible for myself. Thus post trib as an idea can exist with no association with Amillennialism.


The fact that: There is not single Post-trib view:
Is neither here nor there. The same can be said of Pretrib views. There is no “one pretrib view”. Every interpreter has their own take on it – and Missler said as much in these tapes when he talked about how he and his friends regularly debated details and he was in disagreement with some of their views.

So the fact that there are several post trib views just puts it in the same basket as every other Christian doctrine – all of which have variations depending on the person you are talking to. This is a feature of living in an age in which “we see in part, we know in part (1 Cor 13).

The next section is more interesting:

Problems with Post- Trib views:

(1) All deny the NT teaching of Imminancy – to “expect the Lord at any moment”.

But I have already argued that the so called “NT teaching of immanency” may be a matter of opinion. Missler has not in this series offered any proof for it and , as I have pointed out, there are NT passages which contradict it. The "Feeling of immamency" held by some members of the early church may well have been a misunderstanding on their part and the NT writings that touch on the subject can be interpreted as being a corrective to the idea and an attempt to get over enthusiastic prophets to cool down and get on with real life.


(2) Requires the church to be there in 70th week. But Israel and the Church are mutually exclusive.

Who says they are mutually exclusive. Romans 11 doesn’t say so – rather it suggests that they are two parts of the one great whole plan of God.

But anyway, “mutually exclusive” does not mean that they are not on the earth at the same time. It just means that God is working through them in different ways.

However I would argue further that this “exclusivity” ceases toward the end of the tribulation. As Israel turns to Christ there is necessarily a merging of Israel and the church. And this revelation that brings Israel to Christ, according to Paul, comes “out of Zion” (Rom 11:25) – and “Zion” is the church (Heb 12:22-24). Thus there is a “two-way traffic” between Israel and the church in the Tribulation.


(3) Imply the church experiences God’s wrath.

Not true – as Missler has identified “wrath” with “Tribulation” and this is not scriptural.

(4) How can the bride “come” with Christ as she has to be raptured first.

As I have already argued this is only a matter of timing. There is no reason why we cannot be raptured at the start of the day of the Lord and then “come with him” to the Mt of Olives later in the day. 30 seconds should be enough for God to judge all the Christians in the judgment seat of Christ after the rapture and transform us into Christ's image. He personally deals with us now all together at the same time because he is capable of doing so. There is no reason why he cannot personally deal with us all at the judgement seat - at once - in a moment of time.


(5) Who will populate the Millennium? Missler says all unbelievers are wiped out at the Second Coming (in the judgement).

Missler is the first Pre trib writer/teacher I have heard to teach that “all non Christians are wiped out at the Second Coming.” All other pretrib sources I have heard or read have taught that:

(i) There will be many non Christians who will survive Armageddon – simply by not actually being at Armageddon (after all only the armies of the nations will be there, not their whole populations).

(ii) These survivors are those who are judged at the “sheep and goat” judgement (Matt 25).

(iii) It is them and their descendent who are “ruled” in the Millennium.

(iv) It is these survivors and their descendents who rebel at the end of the millennium (Rev 20).

As this is the standard teaching of Pretrib teachers (Except Missler it would seem) and it has been for 200 years, then I can’t see what the problem is and this objection of Missler’s falls.

Actually I suspect Missler is pulling a dirty here by putting in this as a point he doesn’t really agree with, but in a list no one is going to question it and it adds ammunition to his argument even though he doesn’t believe it himself.


(6) Who are the sheep and the goats (Matt 25)?

Answered above.

(7) How can the virgins “buy oil” (Matt 25) without the mark of the beast?

Missler clearly takes this parable to be a literal prophecy of something that will actually happen at the end of the age. But until now he has clearly understood this parable to be just that, a story to illustrate a point, an allegory. To suddenly take the story as “literal” is really weird.

I have never, never, ever, heard this parable being taken literally like this before.

Again, I suspect Missler is doing as dirty – putting forward something he doesn’t believe himself but knowing he will get away with it. It is a very strange exegetical method Missler is using here - to tke what is obviously a story, a parable, and make it into a prophetic reality. In my reading and hearing it is a first.

Pre-Trib view:

Rapture takes place before the 70th week – some time before – it could be days or years.

(1) 70th week defined by a covenant (Dan 9:27).

(2) Great Trib = last half of 70th week.

(3) The world ruler cannot be revealed until after the rapture (2 Thess 2:6-9).

(4) The interval between the rapture and the rise of Antichrist has to be long enough for Antichrist to emerge, negotiate covenant, and enforce it.

Actually points 1-4 I agree with. It is only the timing of the rapture I disagree with.

2 Thess 2: Summary:

Problem under discussion: They thought the Tribulation had begun and they had missed the rapture.

“The Day of the Lord” = the big climax.

“falling away”= an apostacy.

It’s fascinating that Missler outs 2:1 in his rapture list and 2:8 in his “day of the Lord“ list as if Paul has changed subjects. But if Paul has changed subjects then he never answered the question, “Have we missed the rapture?”

But if he actually answered the question then, for Paul, the “Rapture’ and the “day of the Lord” are the same thing.

But Missler’s exegetic method here is very dubious – to the extreme.

The Process: Steps:

The apostacy – Restrainer removed – Man of sin revealed – Day of Lord.

I agree.

Pre – Trib rapture found in: Church writings.

You could do the same for just about any rapture view. It proves nothing. There is nothing to guarantee these writers quoted were correct in their theology of the rapture.

10 Reasons for a Pre-Trib Rapture:

(1) Rev 3:10 “Kept from the hour..” Greek “ek” is where we get our word “exit” and implies “out of”. But the word is also used in the sense of “Preserved in” so this proves nothing.

(2) Church cannot go through the wrath of God. Already addressed above.

(3)
Luke 21:36 – we escape, not endure the Tribulation.

This is probably the strongest point here. But the parallel portion in Matt 24 indicates that the “escape” meant is the physical escape from danger (in Jerusalem before the Roman invasion or from the Antichrist). It does not necessarily mean that they are raptured.

So Missler is not using his own exegetical methodology here to make this point. He should be using the law of comparison: “you need to compare one scripture with another to get the truth” In this case Luke with Matthew.


(4) Luke 21:31 “When these things begin to happen. Look up…” – not “after they happen”.

The word “begin” is not in the Greek. And the text says, “When you see these things happening you know the kingdom is near” – but it does not mean it is right on them. “Near” is close but not that close.

(5) In wartime we call our ambassadors home, 2 Cor 5:20.

In my understanding of Revelation the wrath of God, i.e. the direct judgement of God, is not seen until the day of the Lord when the bowls are poured out. The seals and trumpets are not direct judgements of God. Rather they are the reaping of the consequences of sin according to the law of Sowing and Reaping (Gal 6:6-8) as this law comes to its full expression and fruition. It only comes to that fruition because God removes the restraints from it that he has kept in place since the Fall. As we find in Rom 1 “God gave them up”. There are restraints to sin and its consequences that God has placed in the earth to prevent us experiencing the full pain of our sin. The seals and trumpets are the removal of these restraints so that we reap what we sow without limit. But this does not make them the judgment of God.

So in terms of “warfare” God will call his ambassadors home before he actually judges himself with his wrath. But this does not happen until the day of the Lord.

(6) Restrainer (= Holy Spirit) has to be removed before Antichrist comes.

Nowhere is it taught that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer.
I make a good case for it being the angel Gabriel in my blog stjohnrevelation.blogspot.com - chapter 17.

(5) “Twinkling of an eye” implies the rapture is not an extended activity.

No one ever claimed the rapture was an extended activity. Missler has put this in a list of proofs of the rapture but it is a red herring as no one has ever taught, as far as I know, that the rapture is anything else but “in the twinkling of an eye”. It’s a dirty point.

(6) “in the air” – not “on the earth”.

Answered above. There is no reason why Christ and the church cannot do two things on the day of the Lord – meet in the air and come to the earth.

(7) Woman in Rev 12 = Israel, not the church.

This is matter of opinion. Personally I think it is Zion, the Bride of the Lamb who is made up of the redeemed of all ages. See my blog on ch 12 and you will see I give it a literal and a symbolic interpretation – it is the only way it makes sense really. A purely literal interpretation it gets into difficulties.

(I don’t go for the pretrib idea that Israel is the Bride of Yahweh and the church is the Bride of Christ).

(8) Marriage supper is in heaven and happens before Rev 19:11-14.

So says Missler – but on whose authority – only his own. It doesn’t actually say so here –nor anywhere else in scripture.

Actually Rev 19:11-14, in context, reads more like a coming of the bridegroom for the bride if we want to follow the Jewish ceremony Missler started with.

19:7-8. Announcement that the time for the wedding has come. The bride has made herself ready. But it doesn’t say the marriage actually has happened yet. The invitations are sent out. But then in 19:11 the Groom comes and collects his bride. Surely the marriage supper is after this.

So all of Missler’s points and proofs are capable of different interpretation – or of denial outright.

There are different ways of deriving a doctrine from scripture:

(1) The normal way is to take the plain statements of scripture and establish the general “boundaries” of the doctrine from them. By “plain statements” we mean, “Those statements about which the meaning is clear and they are not open to other interpretation”. More obscure scriptures are then interpreted within those “boundaries”. In this way no obscure scripture is allowed to contradict the plain statement of another scripture.

(2) However with some doctrines there are no “plain statements” so the doctrine has to be derived by implication. The Doctrine of the Trinity is a case in point. There is no “Trinity” in scripture as such. But there are many plain statements which form the basis of the reasoning that leads to the doctrine of the Trinity, for example:

(i) The Father is God.

(ii) Jesus is God.

(iii) The Spirit is God.

(iv) God is One.

(v) I am in the Father and the Father is in me.

(vi) I and the Father are one.

(vii) And so on.

On the basis of these plain scriptures the doctrinal construct which we call “the Trinity” is derived, and rightly so.

However with the case of the two doctrines under examination here (The Pre-trib rapture and Immanency) neither of them really fit either model of doctrine formulation.

(i) There are no plain statements that establish a pretrib rapture or the doctrine of immanency. Nowhere does it actually say in scripture, “Christ is coming before the tribulation.” If it did there would be no dispute would there? Similarly nowhere does the Bible say, “Jesus could come at any moment. There are no known prophecies to be fulfilled before his coming”.

So we cannot use the first model.

(ii) So the proponents of the Pretrib rapture doctrine attempt to build the doctrine using this model – “doctrine by inference”. But the problem here is that there are plain statements that have some relevance to the subject, and these are not given their “plain meaning in context” by pretrib writers/teachers. This is to break their own ruling, i.e. the scripture should be interpreted literally.


Take for instance:

(i) Verses which plainly and definitely say the church is waiting for the Second Coming on the day of the Lord, like:

Matt 24:31 “the son of man will gather his elect”

I Cor 1:7 “while we wait the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ”

2 Thess 2:1-8 “our gathering together to meet him – that day will not happen until…”

Titus 2:13 “while we await the glorious appearing of our Lord…”


(ii) Other verses which, left in context, can only mean Christ’s coming on the day of the Lord:

1 Thess 4:3-5:11 where Paul says he is talking about “the day of the Lord” (5:2) and he does not expect “that day to surprise you like a thief” because we are aware of the event.

1 Cor 15 – has two portions dealing with the end, v20-28, v 50-58. When we are raised and changed is at “his coming” and this is “the last trump” - which if this is not the 7th trumpet of Revelation then we don’t know what it is the “last” of.

And there are other scriptures I have argued previously.

Though pretrib teachers argue for a “literal interpretation” they invariably find a reason why a scripture that makes their position impossible is not to be taken “literally” in context, using the normal rules of English grammar (Which are not too different from Greek).

The Post trib position, on the other hand, is based on several plain statements of scripture that say we will be here until the day of the Lord (as I have just listed). So the post trib view conforms to the first model of deriving doctrine I have outlined above. Therefore, as a doctrine, it has greater validity than the pretrib position - a doctrine by inference which breaks its own code of interpretation (i.e. literalness).


2 comments:

Irv said...

Thanks for your wonderful and accurate blog. Your readers might enjoy Googling "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," "Famous Rapture Watchers," "X-Raying Margaret," "Revisers of Pretrib Rapture History," and "Deceiving and Being Deceived" - all by journalist/historian Dave MacPherson (author of bestseller titled THE RAPTURE PLOT which has the best and most documented info on the pretrib rapture's 178-year-old history. Armageddon Books is carrying it.) Irv

Irv said...

(Just found this web message! Irv}

CHUCK MISSLER - COPYIST !

Many these days are abandoning the pretribulation rapture view, and the June, 1995 article by Chuck Missler (”Byzantine Text Discovery: Ephraem the Syrian”) reveals why there is such a mutiny! First of all, the authoritative scholar that Missler cited, Dr. Paul Alexander, referred only to “Pseudo-Ephraem” and not to Ephraem the Syrian. (If an unsigned ancient manuscript resembles the real Ephraem but there is a question of authorship, they assign it to “Pseudo-Ephraem” - the word “pseudo” meaning “possibly.” For some groundless reason, Grant Jeffrey, the one who reportedly found the “discovery,” changed Dr. Alexander’s terminology! For more info on Jeffrey, Google “Wily Jeffrey.”) And Missler’s scholarship is also questionable. According to the Los Angeles Times (July 30, 1992), about one-fourth of Missler’s 1992 book “The Magog Factor” (which he co-authored with Hal Lindsey) was a daring plagiarism of Dr. Edwin Yamauchi’s 1982 book “Foes from the Northern Frontier”! Four months later Yamauchi’s publisher revealed that both Lindsey and Missler had promised to stop all publishing of their book. But in 1995 they were found publishing “The Magog Invasion” (which was either a revision or a replacement of “The Magog Factor”) - which had a substantial amount of the same plagiarism! (Dave MacPherson’s 1998 book “The Three R’s” has complete documentation on this and other pretrib scandals.) After listing “1820″ as the reported date of the birth of pretrib (he should have said “1830″), Missler sees a pretrib rapture in that Medieval writer’s phrase “taken to the Lord” and, since he evidently favors rewriting others instead of researching, is unaware that Dr. Alexander explained that this phrase really means “participate at least in some measure in beatitude” - which has reference only to doing acts of virtue on earth and not being raptured away from earth! Alexander added that the same ancient writer held to only one final second coming (and not to any prior coming) which would follow the time of Antichrist! (Readers can Google “Deceiving and Being Deceived” by MacPherson to see how groundless the Pseudo-Ephraem claim is and to learn how desperate pretribs are to find any pre-1830 evidence for their escapist view. Dr. Robert Gundry of Westmont College has also demolished the Pseudo-Ephraem claim in his 1997 book “First the Antichrist.”) Since Missler also leans on Thomas Ice, readers can evaluate Ice’s qualifications by Googling “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun),” and “Pretrib Rapture Diehards” (the latter part). For further light on the 179-year-old, fringe-British-invented pretribulation theory, Google or Yahoo “Pretrib Rapture - Hidden Facts.” Finally - why would anyone who has the brains of a rocket scientist want to be taken up with the concept of an any-moment pretrib rapture? The answer may well be that there’s more money in elevating a rapture than launching a rocket!