The Pre Wrath rapture view should concern not only pretribulationists, like myself, but also mid and post-tribulationists.
Let’s lay aside the timing of the rapture for a moment: Pre Wrath is far from being a rapture timing issue. Pre Wrath introduces a complete remodelling of the end times infrastructure. It claims to understand the whole of the second coming in a way none of the other models ever succeeded. To be clear—fresh ideas about the end times should be welcome. They deserve a hearing. Pre Wrath, however, practically bulldozes everything the other models ever agreed upon—and any common understanding altogether—to enable its model to stand.
Before we look into a few examples of how Pre Wrath does this, we should ask this question:
was there a basic prophetic storyline all pre-millennials agreed on, no matter which rapture view we held to?
The answer to that question is: yes, there was, and it went, roughly, like this:
The Drama of Prophecy
The Lord Jesus, during the week of His crucifixion, told the Jews in the temple that from now on they will not see Him until they cry “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD”. He then took care, after His resurrection, not to be seen by any non-believers for the remaining 40 days of His duration on earth (the only exception being His half brother James). The crucifixion was indeed the last Israel, and the world, saw of Him. His Jewish brothers consider Him dead until this day. But this is going to change one day.
The drama of prophecy, as presented in Scripture, would have Israel undergo a terrible tribulation, fleeing for their lives at the mid-point of Daniel’s seventieth week. Toward the end of the seventieth week, when Israel are driven to their end, being surrounded with Antichrist’s armies, they mourn over their sin and plead for Messiah to return and save them. It’s then that Jesus appears. Everything goes dark as the stars fall and the moon stops giving its light. The sign of the Son of Man appears in heaven and His glory shines through the darkness like lightning from East to West. The now repentant nation looks unto the One whom they pierced and mourns greatly over Him (Zechariah 12:10). They exclaim “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)
Christ then girds Himself for battle, comes down in flaming fire with all His glory and the hosts of Heaven, staining His garments with blood as He treads the winepress of God’s fury. He rescues the remnant of Israel and “will consume [the Antichrist] with the breath of His mouth and destroy [him] with the brightness of His coming.” (2 Thess 2:8) He then judges the nations, following which Israel, and the now believing world, rejoice greatly as He sets up His righteous kingdom. The Old Testament saints are resurrected to enjoy His kingdom, together with all the believers who died during the tribulation, and Israel is regathered from among the nations to be an upright and happy nation forever more.
This is, basically, where all rapture views agreed. Until Pre Wrath came along, that is.
Shifting the Second Coming to the Sixth Seal
Whatever our rapture view might be, we all understand Christ’s return in glory to be right at the very end of the seventieth week:
“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be… all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:27,30).
Pre Wrath, however, understands these verses to be occurring at around the sixth seal, which they place somewhere at the ¾ point of the seventieth week. The sixth seal, according to Pre Wrath, could potentially take place a few years before the end of the seventieth week.
Another verse we commonly understand as occurring at the very end of the seventieth week is:
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)
This event, too, does not occur at the end of the seventieth week, according to the Pre Wrath model, but rather, as stated above, a few years before that, where they place the sixth seal. Alan Kurschner, probably the foremost exponent of Pre Wrath today, equates this event with the terror of the ungodly crying for the mountains to cover them, which occurs at the sixth seal (Revelation 6:15-17). He explains: “that the nations (tribes) of the earth will see Him indicates that this is not a localized event but a global appearance (cf. Rev. 1:7). The nations will not repent. They will mourn, knowing that Jesus is coming as judge.”1
Pulling back the second coming in glory by a few years creates a dynamic that is contrary to everything we knew. Instead of things leading to a climax where Israel is pushed to the corner, crying in repentance for Messiah to come and deliver them, we find that Christ indeed appears in power and great glory, but His coming is, as far as Israel is concerned, unsolicited. He won’t find them eagerly expecting Him. Quite the contrary: the mourning of repentance over their sin (Zech. 12:10-11) has, by the Pre Wrath model, been exchanged for a sadness for the very fact that He came. The Deliverer has come, but His people remain in captivity and sin for a few more years while the Antichrist rages on. It practically renders prophetic passages of Israel’s pleading for Messiah’s return (Isaiah 63:15-64:12, Psalm 80:14-19) meaningless.
Israel’s National Salvation Delayed
It would have been good had we been able to say that, at least, Pre Wrath teaches that Israel has repented and been saved by the end of the seventieth week. Alas, this is not the case, due to two peculiar things that Pre Wrath teaches:
- The last seven bowl judgments only start to be poured out AFTER the end of the seventieth week; and
- All the bowl judgments are poured out during a 30 day period, again, after the seventieth week is over.
Since the assembling of the armies for Armageddon only starts at the sixth bowl (Rev 16:12-16), and the Antichrist has not yet started assembling them by the end of the seventieth week, this means the seventieth week is over with no Armageddon; no Armageddon means no battle for Jerusalem, no Zechariah 12:10, no mourning over the only Son and no national salvation for Israel. In other words, the seventieth week would be over without national salvation for Israel.
If there was anything the different rapture views could agree on, it would be that everything is over and done with by the end of the seventieth week. The second coming in glory is quite precise, in fact, even to the day: three and one half years, it says, or if that’s not clear—42 months, and if that’s not clear—1260 days. But we’re to learn that we were wrong again, because Christ’s coming in glory is set to be a few years before that day, and judgments and wars still await us several weeks after it.
Kurschner further claimed in recent years that Jesus will already be physically on earth and will have established His Kingdom before Armageddon ever occurs. Armageddon is, in fact, a reaction to the Kingdom already being established, he says.2
I hope that by now we are beginning to see what “a strange dynamic” means.
No Provision for Post Rapture Salvation
The various rapture views expect a resurrection at the end of the seventieth week. This is based, among other passages, on Revelation 20:4-5:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”
In the sequence of Revelation, this occurs after the binding of Satan and before the Millennial reign. It would make sense for these saints to be raised at this point, so that they can enjoy the blessings of Jesus’ glorious reign.
The resurrection before the Millennium is also based on the last verse of the book of Daniel (12:13):
“But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”
The natural understanding would be that Daniel (and the rest of the Old Testament saints) will rest through the catastrophes of the end times and rise again to enjoy their inheritance in the Messianic Kingdom. This resurrection would coincide with the one mentioned in Revelation 20.
However, this poses a problem for Pre Wrath architects. Pretribulation rapturists were always ridiculed for inventing the “Tribulation Saints” to accommodate for post rapture salvations. For Pre Wrath, having a group of post rapture believers would create their own version of tribulation saints (or, in their case, Wrath Saints) and they would find themselves in the same shoes. In addition to that, Pre Wrathers would prefer to keep their model cleaner and simpler by having only one resurrection event, not one for the rapture and another one before the Kingdom begins.
To eliminate these problems, Pre Wrathers now claim that there is no resurrection whatsoever at the end of the seventieth week just prior to the Millennium. It, too, has been moved back. If one would protest by quoting Revelation 20, the answer will be: “This is mistaken. John is not describing that the resurrection takes place at that point. Rather, he is describing the resurrection status of the saints—that is, the ones who were faithful came to life—linking back to the resurrection event in Rev 7:9…”3 (emphases in original). Revelation 7:9 is what Pre Wrathers consider the rapture, which, according to them, occurs after the sixth seal. So now again they’ve reassigned an end-of-the-seventieth-week event to the area of the sixth seal and bundled it with their rapture. This means the Old Testament saints are raptured to heaven after the sixth seal, potentially a few years before the end of the seventieth week.
How, then, do Pre Wrathers account for all those saints who will be martyred after the rapture? Their solution is rather radical—that there will hardly be any believers (let alone martyrs) at all during that time. They will be “few and far between,” or “the exception, not the norm.” (please bear in mind that we’re speaking of a period of a few years).
It’s hard to imagine how Pre Wrath accounts for Sheep Nations, who will resist the mark of the beast and stand beside the Jewish people during the most difficult time history will ever know. The resurrection before the Millennium, described in Revelation 20, was intended precisely for those brave believers and martyrs, so it’s a great pity Pre Wrath confines that resurrection, too, to the area of the sixth seal.
A Diminishing Glory
Another implication of shifting Jesus’ return in glory back to the sixth seal is that Jesus’ glory must flicker and fade, according to this model. Here’s why.
According to the Bible, the Lord’s glory upon His return to save His people Israel, when seen over His people, is a glory light that shines through the whole earth and remains forever:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)
His glorious appearing is intimately connected with the battle for Israel’s rescue:
“Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning… the Lord of hosts will defend them.” (Zech. 9:14-16).
The sun and moon will be made redundant because His glory light will shine gloriously from His throne in Zion (note the use of the word “for”):
“Then the moon will be disgraced, and the sun ashamed; For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously.” (Isaiah 24:23)
The same point is made later in Isaiah:
“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory.” (Isaiah 60:19-20)
However, this great glory light, which Pre Wrathers adamantly claim appears at the sixth seal, must by necessity experience some weakenings over a few years, if their model is to be followed:
- First, the glory light is obviously diminished a third part at the fourth trumpet (Rev. 8:12), then
- the glory light must be shut out again at the fifth trumpet because of the smoke that comes out of the bottomless pit (9:2); after this,
- natural sunlight returns – because of the scorching sun at the fourth bowl (16:8-9); then
- any light is completely darkened at the fifth bowl (16:10-11), yet
- some sunlight must obviously be restored to allow for the assembling of the armies at the sixth bowl for Armageddon (16:12-16).
The difference from the other rapture models is apparent here. In all other rapture models, Jesus’ glorious appearing is the climax that comes at the end of all the apocalyptic events, while in the Pre Wrath model, His glorious appearing gets swallowed up somewhere in the midst of a multitude of celestial events and loses its significance more than once. By the end of the seventieth week that glory light is long forgotten—a thing of the past.
This has its bearing on Christ’s own glory. The most glorious event in Scripture—the one that all creation awaits—is made to be one event in a sequence. Christ’s majesty and splendour, His wonderful glory that shines from East to West, is, according to the Pre Wrath model, a diminishing, temporary and flickering glory, not an everlasting one that makes the sun and moon redundant.
Raptured Out of Safety
Lastly, Pre Wrath’s timing of the rapture, somewhere along the second half of the seventieth week, introduces yet another oddity which is just another example of the awkwardness of the model: there must be a rapture out of the hiding place designated for Israel. Again, here’s why:
Israeli Jews have always been coming to faith—the Israeli churches have been witnessing this for decades. These Jewish believers then start believing families and strengthen the congregations. There is no reason why this slow but steady flow should stop at the seventieth week. Quite the contrary.
By the time the middle of the seventieth week hits and the men of Judea have to run for their lives to their hiding place in the wilderness (Matthew 24:15), there will be many Jews and religious Jews who will have already come to “bear the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17). Add to these the thousands of already existing Jewish believers concentrated in the congregations in the Judea and Jerusalem area and you’ll have a considerable amount of believers among those in hiding (assuming there was no rapture by then, that is).
If Pre Wrath’s timing of the rapture, i.e., somewhere during the second half of the seventieth week, is correct, then all of these believers will be raptured out of the hiding place, in the midst of their Jewish brethren, leaving behind those who haven’t yet come to faith. This would make the much scorned “Left Behind” series look conservative by comparison, since the hiding place was intended for exactly that purpose—nourishing and protecting those in it “from the presence of the serpent” and frustrating the Antichrist’s efforts. The many Jewish believers in the midst would be raptured, for the sake of safety and preservation, out of the very place prepared by God for safety and preservation.4
- Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord, Alan Kurschner, p. 70, emphasis mine. ↩︎
- https://www.alankurschner.com/2020/04/04/gods-kingdom-occurs-before-armageddon/ ↩︎
- https://www.alankurschner.com/2020/03/09/does-the-raising-to-life-of-the-two-witnesses-in-rev-1111-12-represent-the-resurrection/. I also encourage you to read and try to understand Kurschner’s (always) elaborate explanations as to why this is not a real event here: https://www.alankurschner.com/2020/04/03/the-resurrection-occurs-before-armageddon/ and see how carefully and consistently Kurschner avoids saying “the Second Coming” throughout the article and replaces it with “Armageddon”. ↩︎
- Alf Cengia deals with this conflict in his article How is the Great Tribulation Shortened? ↩︎