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Article by Joel Hemphill

Dear Friends:

There are many different views on the Rapture and that's okay, since it is not a salvation issue. I do not preach or teach on the timing of the "catching away" of the church in our services, however I have written the following study on this important subject and I hope it will be a blessing to you.

Pressing On,

Joel Hemphill

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

Fact or Fiction?

Jesus is coming soon! The signs are everywhere, famines, pestilence (aids is the greatest ever known to man), and the increase of earthquakes (Matt. 24:7). Jesus said also "the sea and the waves would be roaring" (tsunamis) and there would be "fearful sights" (Luke 21:11, 25). What could be a more fearful sight than busses and buildings being blown up, killing thousands? One of the greatest signs of His soon coming is the re-gathering of the Jews and Israel re-established as a nation (Isaiah 14:1-3, Jer. Ch. 30 & 31, and Ezek. Ch. 36 & 37, Amos 9:14-15). Plans are now under way to rebuild the last days' temple in Jerusalem (Mark 13:14, Rev. 11:1-2) (see www.temple.org.il). However, there is one thing that is being taught by many sincere Christian ministers today that I believe is based on a misinterpretation of scripture and I feel constrained in spirit to write about it. That is the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. May I say in all humility that I believe this is a man-made doctrine that is not supported by the Bible. Not that they would knowingly preach error but perhaps they have embraced it without thorough study and rightly dividing the word of truth. Maybe you have made up your mind in this area and will not hear me out, but I pray that this is not the case. Please look with me at some Bible facts.

1. According to Revelation 8:1-13 & 9:1-21; there are 7 trumpets to sound and the wrath of God and plagues are to be poured out during the first 6 trumpets. The saints are resurrected and changed at the last trumpet. (I Thess. 4:13-17, I Cor. 15:51-52, Rev. 11:15 & Isaiah 27:12-13).

2. It is God's way, as shown in the Bible, to preserve His people in trouble rather than take them out of it. God preserved Noah in the flood, Daniel in the lions den, the Hebrew three in the fiery furnace, and Israel in Egypt (Goshen) at the time of the terrible plagues. The wrath of God and plagues will not be poured out on the saints "for God has not appointed us to wrath" but will be poured out on the wicked world that has worshiped the beast and taken his mark. (Rev. 14:9-11 & Rev. 16:1-6). God is well able to protect the righteous while punishing the wicked (II Peter 2:9). In a major battle while Israel was marching to the land of promise, God cast down great hailstones upon the enemy and slew more of the enemy than Israel slew with the sword, and not one Israelite was killed (Joshua 10:11).

3. In Revelation 12:17 the dragon persecuted the remnant of the saints "who have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Clearly these are Christian believers. The beast (anti-Christ) persecutes the saints according to Daniel 7:21, 24-25 and Revelation 13:7. How can this be if they are in heaven?

4. If the saints are raptured before the time of trouble, why does Revelation 14:13 say "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from now on," or verse 12 say "Here is the patience (perseverance) of the saints?" (Job 14:13 & Isaiah 57:1).

5. If the saints are raptured to heaven before the time of trouble, why did Jesus say in Matthew 24:22, "For the elect's sake those days will be shortened." The word elect means "chosen ones" and in scripture it refers to saved people, both Jew and Gentile. (Matt. 24:24, 31 & Luke 18:7). Also in Romans 8:33 and Colossians 3:12, Paul refers to Gentile saints as "God's elect."

6. The anti-Christ and his kingdom of Babylon are destroyed in Revelation chapter 18, before the marriage supper of the Lamb which is told of in Revelation 19:1-9.

7. According to II Thessalonians 2:1-4 "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him"(the rapture) cannot occur "unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin (anti-Christ) is revealed" and "stands in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

8. In Matthew 24:23-30, Jesus teaches about His second coming and says plainly that it is "after the tribulation of those days." Nowhere does the scripture teach that the people of God will spend 3 years up in the air to escape the great tribulation. The tribulation is to punish the world for iniquity as well as refine Laodicea. Where is that church today that is without "spot or wrinkle," "holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27) and how will she shine forth without some refining persecution? When the early church was persecuted "the word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:24).

9. In Revelation 3:7-10 the Philadelphian church was to be delivered from "the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world," but not the Laodicean church which was at the end of the age. (Rev. 3:14-21).

10. The apostle Paul says in II Thessalonians 1:7-10, "And to you who are troubled rest with us, (when?) when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power: When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe...in that day." This does not sound like Paul believed in a secret rapture of the church.

11. Jesus said in Mark 14:25 and Matthew 26:29 "I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine (wine) until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God." He said in Luke 22:18 "For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come." The kingdom of God is to be set up on earth (Daniel 2:44, 7:14, 18, 22, 27; Matt. 6:10, Rev. 12:10) so the marriage supper of the Lamb cannot be in heaven, else Jesus would not drink the wine that is served.

12. In studying Jesus great teaching regarding the end time and His second coming, found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, & Luke 21, no reference can be found to a secret, pre-tribulation rapture of the church. He did say, "But he who endures to the end shall be saved," (Matt. 24:13). Please read these chapters again prayerfully.

13. In Revelation chapter 12, John the Revelator saw a vision of the end time, and the Lord's church pictured as a woman, persecuted by a great red dragon (Satan). Verse 6 says she "fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God," where she is fed and protected for the final 42 months of the tribulation. Please note that it did not say she was caught up to heaven.

14. The angel Gabriel told Daniel in the book of Daniel chapter 12 that he would not be resurrected until after the time of trouble "at the end of the days." Do those who preach a pre-tribulation rapture believe that they will be in heaven seven years before the great prophet Daniel?

15. Contrary to what is taught by some, the apostles did not believe Jesus was coming back to earth in their lifetimes. He taught them that certain things would happen before His return, including the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (A.D. 70) (Mark 13:2, Luke 29:43-44, Luke 21:9). He told Peter plainly that he would grow old and be killed for the Gospel (John 21:19). The disciples were shocked when they misunderstood Jesus and thought He was saying that John would live until His coming (John 21:22-24). Paul knew that he would die, and spoke of his "departure" and what would come after. He knew that the rebuilt Temple would be defiled by the anti-Christ (Acts 20:29-31, II Tim. 3:1-6, II Thess. 2:1-8). They all understood that Jesus would come the second time as He had the first "when the fullness of time had come" and not before (Galatians 4:4, Romans 11:25).

My friend, can you imagine a just God taking His church, which is the light of the world and the salt of the earth, to heaven to miss the time of trouble and leaving the babies and children of all the nations to suffer through it? Do you believe all of earth's children under the age of accountability will be raptured, and have you seen in the Bible where life will continue on earth with no child to be found under the age of 10 or 12 years? Likewise is the church to escape suffering and persecution, while Israel that has already suffered so much, is left here in tribulation without our help, prayers, or support? It simply does not fit scripture, but seems tailor made for an American Church (Laodicea) that says "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing," and knowest not "that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor and blind and naked" (Rev. 3:17). I cannot help but think of the old hymn that asks, "Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?"

My friend, God looks severely upon false teaching and the seriousness of it can hardly be overstated. When Paul said in II Thessalonians 2:3, "Let no man deceive you by any means" he was speaking in reference to the timing of Jesus' return. This shows that there would be deception regarding this matter. Every doctrine bears fruit, and error as you well know bears bitter fruit. Let me explain how this pre-tribulation rapture doctrine can do harm to the body of Christ.

The USA Today newspaper carried a story recently about the U.S.'s most decorated officer to survive as a P.O.W. He spent 8 years in the horrible prison called "Hanoi Hilton" and in spite of intense mental and physical torture, came back home to his family. He was asked in the interview, who did not survive the ordeal and he said, "The optimists." When asked to explain he said, "those who said, 'we will be out by Christmas' and weren't, then 'we'll be out by New Years' and weren't, then 'we'll be out by Easter' and weren't, and their spirits were broken, their hopes dashed, and they succumbed to despair and died." He said, "I fixed my mind for the long haul and thought, I have a wife and babies back home in the U.S. and no matter how long it takes or what I have to suffer, I will see them and hold them again." Thus, he made it! We as Christians must fix our minds for the long haul!

It is dangerous to preach a doctrine of easy escape when that is not what is coming. May I humbly say that what is coming is a shaking of the nations. In 1986, God told me, "I am soon going to shake the nations with a demonstration of the power of my wrath. Many will think that it is the end but it is not, it is just to show my power to the nations." God said He did not want His people stirred by the shaking, but He wants us stirred by the Word, now, "so that we will have the strength to reap the harvest of souls that the shaking will bring." I later found where Ezekiel 38:20, Haggai 2:6-7, Hebrews 12:26-27 and Joel 3:11 speak of this shaking which is to come. Joel 2:31 says these things happen "Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord."

Let me say to my friends in the ministry, Brethren instead of telling people they will fly away and avoid it all, let's do as Paul did in Acts 14:21-22, preaching to all of the churches "strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith" and saying "we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." What happened to that message?

As Don Finto said in his book, Your People Shall Be My People, "I would rather be prepared for the worst and be delivered than to be caught off guard." Daniel 11:32 says, "then they that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits," (not, "will fly away"). These exploits are heroic and notable deeds and there is something in me that looks forward with great anticipation to that day. Strengthened by God, I would love to do battle with the anti-Christ for "greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world" and "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God." (I John 4:4 and II Cor. 10:4)

Dear fellow Christian, please receive this message in the spirit of love in which it is written as I do honor you and believe that you are a sincere seeker for truth.

God has plans that we know not of and one thing is for sure, His glory will soon be revealed in the earth. May we spread the Gospel and pray for the soon coming of Jesus.

Your Brother In Christ,

Joel Hemphill


Sometime back I wrote a study titled "Why I Speak in Tongues" and posted it on this website. We get a good many questions and comments about this article and are always happy to respond.

A couple of weeks ago I received a quite lengthy email from a Dr. Bob Pearson (I have changed the name) who named many great Christian ministers from the past, and Dr. Billy Graham of the present, who did not teach or practice speaking in tongues. His question was basically, "If speaking in tongues is of God, and they didn't practice it, how could they have been used of Him as they were?" That is a good question and I hope I answered it well. I have posted my email to him here, so you can be the judge.

Warmest Christian Regards,

Joel Hemphill

P.S. I do not normally talk about "tongues" in our concerts and church services, as our ministry crosses many denominational boundaries, but I certainly do practice it every day in my personal prayer time. Also, I was amazed at some of the good statements I found from Brother Billy Graham on this subject.


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