The Great Tribulation and the Rapture Part 3
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
September 15, 1997

Last Updated :
January 3, 2009

Not Appointed To Wrath?, The Sixth Trumpet Or Vial Of Wrath, Armageddon, Euphrates River, Kings Of The East, The Only Way To Eternal Life, Flee To The Mountains, The Great Slaughter, A Witness Unto Death, As Gold Tried In The Fire, Not Ashamed

As we saw in part one of this series, contrary to my own understanding, Pre-Tribulation Rapture theorists believe that the Great Tribulation will commence at the beginning of the Last Seven Years. In addition to this, they believe that the Rapture will occur just prior to this seven-year period. There are a variety of reasons and Scriptures they use to support this view. One of the most common verses which I have heard used to support this belief is the following:

"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,"
1 Thessalonians 5:9, KJV

In the previous verse, the word 'wrath' is derived from the Greek word 'orge', and is variably interpreted in the Bible as wrath, anger, vengeance or indignation. Depending upon personal interpretation, 'wrath' can be applied to the wrath of the Beast against the Lord's Saints, or to the Last Seven Plagues, also known as the Vials of Wrath, which God shall pour upon the wicked, or to the final reward of the wicked in the Lake of Fire. Let us now closely examine each one of these possibilities in order to discover which one is most successful in passing the Scriptural test. In the first case, we know that it doesn't pass the test, because as we saw in part two of this series, the Saints are going to be subjected to the wrath of the Beast. As I point out in such articles as 'The Children Of God And Politics', and in the series 'The Fruits Of Disobedience', throughout the entire Old Testament, the Lord protected His children when they remained obedient to His will, and He punished them through their enemies when they went astray.

During the coming Great Tribulation, the Lord is apparently going to lift His protection, and allow the Beast and his forces to persecute the Saints. This will serve a variety of purposes; one of which will be to allow the wicked to fill up their cup of iniquity, so that the Lord can righteously judge them. It is my understanding that while the Beast is persecuting the Lord's children, God will also be pouring out His Wrath upon the Beast's kingdom of darkness. Consider the following very revelatory verses found in Psalm Eleven:

" . . . In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart . . . The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup."
Psalms 11:1-2, 5-6, KJV

These verses are so amazing that it absolutely thrills me! The Lord is so faithful to reveal new gems to me as I delve into the wonders of His Word! Notice first of all that these verses clearly refer to preparation for a war. David says 'the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string'. What war is King David talking about? Notice also that only a few verses later, we are also told that when they enter the battle, the Lord will also pour out His righteous judgments upon them. How are His chastisements described? David says 'this shall be the portion of their cup'. What cup is David talking about? Might it be possible that the king is referring to the Seven Vials, or Cups, of Wrath found in the Book of Revelation? As I explain in the upcoming article 'The Seven Trumpets And The Seven Last Plagues', it appears that the Trumpets and the Vials, also known as the Seven Last Plagues, are different names for the very same things. This becomes apparent when we put the following verses right after each other:

"And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt."
Revelation 9:13-19, KJV

"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."
Revelation 16:12-16, KJV

Now remember, in Psalm Eleven, King David described the wicked drawing back the bow and preparing for battle. In the previous two sets of verses, we have the sixth angel with his Trumpet, and the other sixth angel with his Vial of Wrath. You will immediately notice that both of them are by the Euphrates River; and as I point out in the series 'The Seven Heads', I suspect that this may be a reference to the area of the Euphrates River which comes down from Turkey and passes through Syria, and not to its length through the country of Iraq, although that is also a possibility. Notice also that we are told in the first set of verses that these angels 'were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year'. Likewise, in the second set of verses, we are told that the Euphrates River is dried up so 'that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared'. It should be clear then that all of these verses are talking about the preparation for the Battle of Armageddon, which King David apparently envisioned thousands of years ago.

Allow me to bring a few more important points to your attention. As I also state in 'The Seven Heads' series, this mention of 'the kings of the east' could be a reference to military forces coming from Iraq, Iran, and further points east as they cross the dried-up Euphrates River on their way to the hill of Megiddo, or Armageddon, in Israel; however, during the course of doing research for the aforementioned series, I discovered that the word translated here as 'east' is actually derived from the Greek word 'anatolia'. This just so happens to be the former name of a country currently known as Turkey! So again, these military forces may in fact originate in Turkey, and/or Syria, and not in Iraq and Iran.

Finally, notice that in Psalm Eleven, in describing God's wrath upon those who have prepared for battle, King David states 'he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest'. The Apostle John uses similar words when he says 'and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths'. It doesn't take very much imagination too see that what John is describing might be modern day warfare in which tanks are used, and other toys of destruction. It seems like the Lord will be fighting fire with fire as the righteous battle against the wicked Muslim hordes.

But let's backtrack in time for a moment, to before the Battle of Armageddon actually occurs. Let's return to a point in time when Jerusalem is first surrounded by hostile Muslim forces; a time which may be in the very near future; perhaps only a few months or a few years from now at best. When this time of persecution known as Jacob's Trouble is about to begin, did Jesus say that the Rapture will occur in order to spare His children from such agony? Some of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theorists will insist that this is definitely the case. One verse which they sometimes use in order to support this view is the following, which I also shared in part one of this series:

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."
Daniel 12:1, KJV

Notice that Daniel writes 'at that time thy people shall be delivered'. Of course, for we Christians, this Deliverance can only be referring to the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture. That is the only way that any of us are going to be delivered from this world, assuming of course that we all are still alive at that time. As we have already seen, the problem is in our personal understanding of exactly what is meant by 'that time'. Notice also that this verse does not say that all of the Jews of Israel are God's Chosen People as some wayward Bible teachers would have you to believe. I delve into this topic quite deeply in the article 'Is God A Racist?'. As far as I know, the only Jews who are going to be delivered 'at that time', are those who are found written in the Book of Life; and the only ones who will be found in the Book of Life, are those who have accepted the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ Himself; because as He said:

" . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 14:6, KJV

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
John 6:37, KJV

"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
John 10:28, KJV

These are the only flesh Jews who will be delivered at that time; that is, those who have come to the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. So the point is, did Jesus say that God will take His loved ones out of this world so that they can be spared from the awesome destruction which will be wrought against the city of Jerusalem? Not by any means. Let me again remind you of precisely what Jesus did say regarding this issue:

"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
Luke 21:20-24, KJV

Notice again that Jesus says 'flee to the mountains'. If you go back and read those verses from Psalm Eleven, you will see that King David also started his song by saying 'Flee as a bird to your mountain'; which he actually did in real life when he was forced to flee from rebellious King Saul, and hid in the cave of Adullam. Initially, David chose to flee to the camp of Saul's enemies, that is, to King Achish of Gath, the home of Goliath whom David had already slain by this time; but the Philistine king didn't trust David, so David then fled to the cave of Adullam:

"And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house? David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him."
1 Samuel 21:10-22:1, KJV

As we saw in part two, the Lord's words are a direct warning to the Jews who will be living in the city of Jerusalem in the near future when all of these events begin to occur. If the Rapture occurs before this terrible time of suffering begins, why then does our Lord tell the Jews to flee as quickly as they can with just the clothes on their backs? For me personally, the answer is quite obvious. The Rapture simply does not occur at this time; it happens later. Those Jews who are wise, and who truly understand the Word of the Lord, will do exactly as Jesus tells them to do; they will flee as a bird to the mountains in order to escape the Wrath of an angry God who will severely punish the rest of their countrymen who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour; and the Jewish unbelievers will clearly be in the majority. It will be a very great slaughter; not only of the unbelieving Jews, but also of the many Palestinians who now reside in Jordan, and of the other Arab forces. Consider these descriptive verses written by the Prophet Isaiah which appear to have Endtime implications:

"And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound. Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire: And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel. And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones. For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod."
Isaiah 30:25-31, KJV

"Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea."
Isaiah 34:1-6, KJV

Just as the Prophet Jeremiah warned the children of Israel to return to the Lord so long ago, just prior to the final Babylonian invasion, because they will not accept Eternal Life through the Son of God, the Lord Himself will once again chastise the Jews by the hand of their Muslim enemies, who will bring them suffering and death. It will simply be a repetition of history upon a rebellious people who have still not learned their lesson:

"And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey. For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire."
Jeremiah 21:8-10, KJV

The main point I wish to stress is that not being appointed to wrath has nothing to do with escaping the wrath of the Beast. All of the verses I shared in part two emphasize the fact that some of the Lord's children will still be here during the Great Tribulation; and that one of the primary purposes of this persecution will be to purge and to purify the Saints; that is, to make us truly worthy of the glories to be revealed. As the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Corinthians:

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
1 Corinthians 2:9, KJV

While it is quite possible that one hundred and forty-four thousand Jewish Christians will be sealed during the Great Tribulation, the fact remains that this number represents under two and a half per cent of Israel's current Jewish population of about six million; so many people are still going to suffer and die during the reign of the Beast; particularly in the state of Israel. In fact, at this time, I am not convinced that being marked with the seal of God necessarily means that the Lord's children will fully escape the wrath of the Beast. Even in our current day, we read of Christian missionaries, and our native Christian brethren in foreign lands, such as Egypt and the Sudan, being persecuted and killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ; so as I pointed out in part two, while receiving the seal of God may offer protection to some of the Saints, it primarily serves as a mark of ownership, whether we live or die in the Lord. If the seal of God offers full protection from persecution and death, then we would not find the following verses in the sixth chapter of the Book of Revelation, right after the description of the woman in the wilderness:

"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? "And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
Revelation 6:9-11, KJV

Thus, it seems that as a possible final test of their love for the Lord and lost souls, some of those who are alive at the time of the Great Tribulation, will be called to lay down their lives. Whether or not we American Christians will be the object of the Beast's persecution depends upon the extent of his power and influence. I cannot answer that at this time as I honestly do not know. Again, it depends upon the proper interpretation of such phrases as 'all nations', 'all the world' and 'all'. Perhaps the Beast will indeed have power over the entire Earth as some people envision the New World Order, or One World Government as it is also called, or maybe it will be a more localized event limited to the Middle East. As we saw in part two, one thing of which we can be sure, is that Jesus Himself said, 'The servant is not greater than his Lord'. Please consider the following verses as well:

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."
Luke 9:23-24, KJV

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13, KJV

"For the love of Christ constraineth us . . . "
2 Corinthians 5:14a, KJV

"Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men."
Acts 5:29, KJV

So again, perhaps some of the Lord's children, whether they be Gentile Christians, or Jewish Christians, will be so motivated by the love of God in the days and years ahead, that despite heavy persecution, ridicule and the threat of punishment or death, they will be willing to lay down their lives in order to continue preaching the Gospel and winning others to Christ. Let us hope and pray that none of us will cower in fear like Peter and The Eleven who fled from the Lord the night of His betrayal, and then hid themselves in the upper room for fear of the Jewish Elders:

"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."
John 20:19, KJV

Whatever happens in the future, one fact remains; Jesus and His First Disciples did not escape persecution and death; so what makes some Endtime Christians think that they are any better? Could it be that modern organized religion has become such a religion of convenience and comfort, that many have adopted the erroneous attitude that any possibility of pain and suffering should be rejected as being unscriptural? What makes them think that they are so worthy to comfortably float off to Heaven to sit on some billowy cloud and play a harp for Eternity? Sad to say, this is the erroneous image of Heaven that some deluded Christians seem to have. In the Old Testament and the New, our brethren had to pay a price for their beliefs. Some of us will undoubtedly have to pay the price for ours as well, as some already have. Jesus paid the price for our Salvation, but we are the ones who must work to obtain the rewards; for we will not all shine with the same glory:

"There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory."
1 Corinthians 15:40-41, KJV

This idea of being faithful unto death is also emphasized in the following two verses; one from the book of Daniel, and the other from the message to the Church at Smyrna in the Book of Revelation. As I will explain in a moment, being a faithful witness of the Lord's love and Salvation is not the only reason for which many people will undergo persecution:

"Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand."
Daniel 12:10, KJV

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Revelation 2:10, KJV

Notice that the reason why some of the Disciples at Smyrna were going to be cast into prison and suffer tribulation, was so that they might be tried; that is, so that their faith might be tested. In order to obtain their Crown, they had to remain firm unto death and not deny their faith in the Lord. It is for these reasons that I strongly feel that those who embrace the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory are in error. If they honestly believe that they are ready to meet their Maker, they are really deceiving themselves. We are all imperfect, and full of all kinds of bad habits, pride and self-righteousness attitudes. The Lord needs to purge us of such things before we will truly merit the full glories of the Kingdom to come. He must get rid of the dross in our lives so that we will be as pure gold. Please consider these verses:

"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Job 23:10, KJV

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God."
Zechariah 13:9, KJV

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
James 1:2-4, KJV

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"
1 Peter 1:7, KJV

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."
1 Peter 4:12-14, KJV

"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
Revelation 3:18, KJV

In that set of verses from the Epistle of James, the word 'temptations' is derived from the Greek word 'peirasmos', pronounced pi-ras-mos', which means a trial or proving of one's faith. It is almost identical in meaning to the word 'trial' found in the previous verses from Peter's first Epistle. In those verses, the word 'trial' is derived from the Greek 'purosis', pronounced poo'-ro-sis, which my Greek lexicon defines as follows:

----- Begin Quote -----

1) a burning
1a) the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced
1b) by a figure drawn from a refiners fire
1b1) calamities or trials that test the character

----- End Of Quote -----

Thus, similar to the Apostle Paul, both James and Peter are basically saying that as Christians, we must endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ; and be willing to undergo tests of our faith through physical persecution if the Lord so chooses; and choose He might, for as Jesus and Peter also stated:

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Matthew 5:11-12, KJV

"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Mark 8:38, KJV

"Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
1 Peter 4:16-17, KJV

Having now fully examined the possibility that not being appointed to wrath might mean escaping the wrath of the Beast and the False Prophet during the Great Tribulation through a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, I believe we can safely conclude that this is simply not the case. In light of the preponderance of Scriptures that I have provided thus far, it seems clear that the Lord's children will still be here during the time known as Jacob's Trouble.

In part four of this series, we will continue our study by examining the next possibility; and that is that not being appointed to wrath might be a reference, not to the wrath of the satanic Beast, but rather to the actual Wrath of God Himself, also known as the Seven Vials of Wrath, or the Last Seven Plagues. We will be taking a look into the past at a few examples such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues in Egypt, and Noah's Flood. In addition, we will also discuss the great multitude which John saw in the Book of Revelation, the possibility of a Mid-Tribulation Rapture, and what Jesus may have really meant when He said that the days would be shortened. I trust that you are finding this series interesting, and that you will join me in part four.

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