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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Summer Edition, 2017

Does The Book Of Revelation Teach A Pretribulation Rapture Of The Church?

1. First Things First

Dispensationalists universally assume that Revelation chapters 6-19 must be structurally organized around the idea of a future seven year Great Tribulation period. According to the popular teaching, everything in Revelation chapter 6-19 is supposed to fit into, and define, what happens during some future seven year Great Tribulation period.

Since Dispensationalists believe that the very first thing that happens in the line-up of prophetic end-time events is the secret Rapture of the Church, they see that event portrayed, in typology, with John’s transport to heaven in Revelation 4:1-2. John’s transport in spirit to heaven from the Isle of Patmos nearly 2,000 years ago is supposed to illustrate the Dispensational belief in a Rapture of the Church before a coming seven year Great Tribulation period.

Yes, you heard right. But what, pray tell, are the rational connections of understanding here? How do we leap-frog from an historical event that happened to John the Revelator nearly 2,000 years ago into our prophetic future, so as to assume an equality of relationships here? How is John’s personal transport to heaven in Revelation 4:1-2 in any way, shape, or form a type, or a foreshadowing, of some future end-time pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church? On whose authority are we to believe that Revelation 4:1-2 foreshadows, or in any otherwise teaches, an end-time pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church? Does the text itself say that?

No. There is no hint of anything foreshadowing anything here in this text. By using the silly, baseless “foreshadowing” argument, anyone can make about any passage in the Bible say or mean anything they want. So would you admit that you only see a pre- tribulation Rapture of the Church in Revelation 4:1-2 on the basis of a PRECONCEPTION being read into the text--a preconception you are deriving from somewhere else besides the Book of Revelation? That’s the truth of the matter anyway, friend, so just fess up to it.

2. To the Main Point

Why then should we trust a Dispensationalist to know what he or she is talking about, when they interpret Scripture so carelessly? Obviously, no one has an academic leg to stand on in claiming proof for an end-time pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church based on John’s personal experience recorded in Revelation 4:1-2. Dispensationalists are merely grasping at straws in a desperate search for biblical support of a theory that the Bible itself clearly contradicts at every turn. If you have not been suspect of Dispensational teaching before today, dear friend, then you certainly have good reason to begin that suspicion now.

Now let’s move on the larger idea of the future seven year Great Tribulation period supposedly existing in the Book of Revelation in the first place. Where does the Book of Revelation honestly say anything about the existence of any “seven year” time frame period PER SE?

We say “per se” for good reason. We say it because we know how Dispensationalists typically try to evade the force of reason here by suggesting that the mention of the 1,260 days, the mention of the 42 months, and the mention of the “time, times, and a half” expressions in the Book of Revelation somehow allows, or justifies, the idea of the appearance of the seven years.

But wait a minute. Something fishy is going on here. What is the objective rational basis for assuming that the time frame expressions of the 1,260 days, the 42 months, and the “time, times and a half” that are mentioned in the Book of Revelation prove the existence of a seven years, which, itself, is not mentioned?

The 1,260 days, the 42 months, and the “time, times, and a half” expressions are no proof for the existence of any future seven year Great Tribulation period in the Book of Revelation. None of these time frame expressions literally mean or imply seven years. Only total subjectivism on the part of the interpreter allows him to arrange or combine the 1,260 days, the 42 months, and the “time, times and a half” expressions together in such a way as to suggests or produce seven years.

Please think this through, if you will. When you get logical you must concede the point: seven years in mentioned nowhere, PER SE, anywhere in the Book of Revelation. A Dispenstionalist may be embarrassed, or even stymied into confusion over this objective fact, but that is the Dispensationalist’s problem and not ours. We are simple one of those humble “fact checkers” who are only wanting to know the truth.

The knee-jerk sub-conscious reaction that Dispensationalists exhibit in trying to prove the existence of a seven year Great Tribulation period in the Book of Revelation is to appeal to “first half” and “second half” distinctions. Certain events from Revelation chapters 6-19 fit into the “first half” of the seven year tribulation period, while other events in those same chapters fit into the ”second half” of this seven year period.

But wait a minute. You see what is going on here? First off, the Book of Revelation itself gives no hint of any “first half” or any “second half” compartmentalization of anything. Where does it actually say that this or that event belongs to a “first three and a half years,” and this or that other event belongs to a “second three and a half years”? The book suggests none of that nowhere--zip, zero.

So from where, we might legitimately probe, do Dispensationalists get this first half and second half organizational idea that they are obviously reading into the Book of Revelation? Those of you have been following our teachings for a while know the answer: they derive this organizing methodology from Sir Robert Anderson’s theory of interpreting Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 Weeks, and no where else.

But Sir Robert Anderson was wrong, and his theory is an academic fraud, and an intellectual hoax. This means, by extension of pure logic, that all of his modern Dispensational Premillennial followers, though they would never admit it, are in total chaos and confusion over how to interpret the Book of Revelation, and over what the Bible really teaches about the coming end-time.

Obviously, you are smart enough to realize that what we have just said is earth-shakingly profound. The implications of it, in terms of the contemporary American evangelical fundamentalist Christian world view, are massive beyond description.

THIS IS SOMETHING THAT YOU MAY HAVE TO MULL OVER AND SOAK ON FOR A LITTLE WHILE. Eventually, however, it is sure to become extremely awakening, and extremely motivating.

Now is a good place to put a plug in for our brand-new book entitled Beyond Dispensationalism: The True Biblical Countdown to Armageddon. We are gratuitously distributing this manuscript in several formats. You can help us do even more. Please pray about how God might want you to get involved.

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