Thanks for reminding us to remember Jesus’ return as we go about our daily lives (“Is the church prepared” by Don Morris, Jan/Feb 2021). That energized the early church; it should do the same for us. Of course, it also has energized publication of numerous books and debates over the details—pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, post-tribulation….
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t worry about these details. However, I recently came across a book published 30 years ago: The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthal. The author says Jesus will rapture us just prior to the opening of the seventh seal, and then pour out his wrath on the unrepentant world.
The author explains how this one detail makes a big difference. If he is correct, this means that Christians will be around to watch the anti-Christ make a pact with Israel, and three and one-half years later set up his idol in the temple and demand worship to him.
Five years after Rosenthal’s book was published, the Left Behind series caught the imagination of evangelicals. As one Dallas professor commented, “I’m so pre-everything, I don’t even eat Post Toasties anymore.” The idea that Christ will take us home before the 70th week of Daniel begins is now almost universally held by evangelicals.
If evangelicals discover one day that we are, in fact, living in the 70th week, it would cause panic. As Rosenthal says, “It is impossible to effectively train an army for a major battle if the soldiers are told they will never have to participate.” Among unbelievers who have heard the Left Behind story, they would conclude that other things they heard from Christian friends are wrong, too. Why should they put their faith in something so unreliable?
Over the years, I have read through the entire Bible in different versions. After reading Rosenthal’s book, I found it intriguing but was skeptical. The second time through, I looked up his key Bible references and read their contexts. I then went back and studied the sections that are key to his premise. I also found a more recent book, Three Views on the Rapture, edited by Alan Hultberg. It is more scholarly and includes evaluations of each view by those who disagree. I am now trying to understand their reasonings.
Although Rosenthal makes a strong case, I am still not sure he is right. However, I believe it is very important to let fellow evangelicals know that the popular pre-tribulation theory is not the only game in town. Pre-wrath might be wrong, but we should be prepared, in case it is correct.
We need to get the word out and ask people to consider carefully the pre-wrath possibility.
This article has been posted by Christian Leader staff. The Christian Leader is the magazine of U.S. Mennonite Brethren.