In the topic of eschatology, few things are debated with more passion than the timing of the rapture with respect to the great tribulation. In online forums there are many opinions expressed. Some of them in my opinion are so far out there that few people if any take them very seriously.
Some people read these topics and will express their opinion that the topics are not important. Somehow though, they seem to think it important to express their opinion that it isn't important. I have not quite figured that one out yet.
One of the opinions often expressed is the tongue-in-cheek position:" I am pan tribulation". At the risk of possibly offending those people who say they are pan tribulation, I say this:
"The pan-trib position is supposed to be cute or humorous, and I suppose it is the first time one hears it. By now though I am sure that I have heard it over 100 times, and to me it has become a worn-out old joke. I have been hearing it since the 1970s, so pardon me if I don't laugh too hard.
Still there are those who are reading this post who have no doubt not heard of the pan-trib position even now. For their sakes I will explain the pan-trib position. "I do not care if the rapture is before, during, or after the tribulation, as long as it all pans out".
I have very little respect for the pan-trib position. I suspect that people who hold that position fall into one of several categories:
- Perhaps they are too lazy to study the Bible.
- Perhaps they feel they are underqualified to have a real opinion.
- Perhaps they detest debate.
- Perhaps they are afraid to express their opinion.
Sometimes they will make the point that eschatology is not a salvational issue and therefore is not worth having a strong opinion about. It often seems to escape their notice though, that almost all of the Bible is not about salvational issues, so I would have to guess that most of the Bible is also not important to them.
Considering how much space (in the New Testament especially) is devoted to eschatology by the apostles and even by Jesus Himself I find it extremely difficult and even disrespectful to imply that the things that Jesus said and that the apostles (who were inspired by God to write) expressed, are of little importance.
Coming up with flippant, worn-out remarks does not in my mind, justify what seems to be an aire of superiority in being wishy-washy about Scripture.
I know I am on my high horse. I know I am often on my high horse. I know that I am on my high horse frequently lately. You can reply to this post and inform me of that if you wish, but don't think you're telling me anything that I do not already know and freely admit.
As I have already stated there are many opinions and many positions in the field of eschatology. The different positions contradict each other of course and most of them (if not all of them) contradict Scripture at at least one point. No more than one position can be 100% accurate and perhaps none of them are.
In spite of the fact that I have used a lot of words so far in this post, I really only want to invite comments on the following proposition:
There are many reasons that people may use to explain why they believe what they believe about eschatology. With respect to the issue of whether or not the rapture is before, during, or after the great tribulation, I believe the following reasons should be discounted.
The character of God argument.
Some people believe that the church will not go through the great tribulation because it is not within the character of God to allow his church to suffer. This reasoning is invalid because God's people have always been allowed to suffer historically. This is true whether we are talking about the Jews or the Christians, prophets or apostles, martyrs since the time of Christ and even today, and of course Jesus himself who said a servant is not above his master.
If God has allowed his people to suffer for thousands of years, how can we think that it is not in God's character to allow such suffering?
It is so easy for us in the West to find the idea of suffering distasteful. Many of us have never missed a meal even one time in our entire life nor slept without a roof over our head unless it was by choice. We live in a time and in cultures where most people have access to transportation which requires no physical work, access to nearly continual entertainment and access to vast amounts of knowledge that we never had to study to obtain.
I read just today that Google claims that the average Android user checks his or her Android 150 times each day. In these days of comfort and convenience, fast food and instant gratification, it is no wonder that some of us cannot conceive of going through a time of suffering and persecution lasting from 3-1/2 to 7 years. However, just because we have had it so easy does not mean there won't be a time when we will have it so hard.
I have gone on long enough. I intended to list a lot of reasons which are not valid reasons for believing some of the things that we do believe. It seems to me that in the area of eschatology the only reason to believe anything is because the Bible tells us so.
I am sure that many of us believe we believe what the Bible says about these things. It is my observation however that many of us if not most of us believe what we believe by taking preconceived ideas to the Scripture and then interpreting the Scripture in a way that agrees with what we already believe about it, rather than taking Scripture at its word and adjusting our thinking to align with what the Bible itself says.
Do we really want to be a people who gather to themselves teachers who will tell us what our itching ears want to hear? Or do we think that the better idea is to be like the Bereans, and search the Scriptures daily to see whether these things be so?