Tribulation Saints During PreWrath’s Day of the LORD
This article was produced into a video with explanatory diagrams right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi9UzcuEHoU.
The PreWrath movie “Seven PreTrib Problems” claims that 1) There are NO tribulation saints who are not part of the Church, and that this term was invented by Pretribulationists to suit their theology, and 2) that God promised that believers would be spared from the wrath – in fact, that the rapture’s purpose is that believers (all believers) will not undergo the wrath at all.
Following are instances of Tribulation Saints:
1. Daniel’s Saints
Daniel 7:21 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. … 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.”
We see the Antichrist prevails against the saints for the entire length of the last 3.5 years of the 70th week. So you’ve definitely got “saints” who are enduring the great tribulation and the wrath/Day of the LORD, which definitely makes them “Tribulation Saints”.
This also puts in question PreWrath’s interpretation of Matthew 24:30-31 as speaking about the rapture somewhere in the ¾ point of the 70th week. They equate the rapture with the Second Coming in Glory and call it “His coming and continued presence”. Well, if Christ’s coming in glory is somewhere around ¾ point of the 70th week, why then does the Antichrist persecute the saints and prevail against them throughout the whole of the last 3.5 years, “until the ancient of days came”? Obviously, Christ’s second coming in Matthew 24:30-31 is at the end of the 70th week, and not at the ¾ point of it, as PreWrathers believe. This means the rapture is either post-tribulational, or better, that the gathering in v. 31 is not the rapture at all, but rather the gathering of Israel from the four corners of heaven, as in Duet 30:3-5: 3 “… then Jehovah thy God will [a]turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither Jehovah thy God hath scattered thee. 4 If any of thine outcasts be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will Jehovah thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5 and Jehovah thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it;” (in Hebrew it’s literally “edge of heaven”). Please see a similar reference in Nehemiah 1:9.
You might question whether the saints mentioned in Daniel are explicit believers in Jesus or only ones that would become believers in Jesus at the end of the 70th week. Well, the Bible calls them Saints and they’re in the Tribulation, so again, calling them Tribulation Saints is only Scriptural and not anything to accuse Pretribulationists for. In fact, changing the term would make it less scriptural. However, there are more details about Jewish saints and their faith in Jesus in the book of Revelation, which leads to the next point.
2. Believing Jews in Israel
In context of Satan’s (!) persecution during the second half of the 70th week in Rev 12, we read in v. 11, “And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
So these saints, who according to the context are most likely persecuted Jews in Israel, overcome “by the blood of the Lamb.” It would be a stretch not to say they’re explicit believers in Jesus. Verses 16-17 in the same context are even stronger:
16 But [when the woman fled] the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
So, it seems these persecuted saints from among the offspring of Israel are indeed believers in Jesus Christ, since they bear His testimony.
Are they Raptured?
Now, there is not the slightest indication here that the believers in this passage (i.e. Israeli Jewish believers during the tribulation) are raptured at any point of their persecution. Neither is there a hint of it when the Judean Jews are told to flee to the mountains at the midpoint of the 70th week (Matt. 24). No. They’re to be hidden for 3.5 years in a place prepared for them in the desert (Rev. 12:6,14). A rapture for them would purely be an assumption, and an unnatural one.
But even if you did assume that these believing Jews could hope for a rapture at some point, it would be even more ridiculous to then further assume that, while Jews had been coming to faith until that rapture, coming to faith from among the Jews would cease after that rapture, especially when the time from the PreWrath rapture to the end of the 70th week could potentially last a few years! The only reason one would assume no one comes to faith during that period would be to avoid the possibility of Tribulation Saints, at any cost. It’s almost like PreWrathers here would rather people didn’t to come to faith after the rapture, so that they can say that there are no “Tribulation Saints.” However, the Scriptures teach that the Devil and the Antichrist are persecuting these saints, these Jewish believers in Jesus, and prevailing against them, for the full 3.5 years of the second half of the 70th week, which would definitely make them Tribulation Saints.
3. The 144,000
The 144,000 who are sealed from among the tribes of Israel are called the servants of God (Rev 7:3b-4).(footnote 1) We learn from chapter 14 that the seal on their foreheads is the name of the Lamb and of His Father (v. 1) and that they follow the Lamb (v. 4). So, as with the previous group, we’d be pretty hard pressed to say they’re not explicitly believers in Jesus.
However, it’s clear that the 144,000 sealed of Israel are upon the earth throughout the tribulation for various reasons, one of which is that during the 5th trumpet (ch. 9) the stinging locusts are not permitted to touch them. Thank God, they are spared from that horrific judgement! So, even according to PreWrath, these believing Jews are here well into PreWrath’s Day of the LORD, which indeed makes this group Tribulation Saints.
4. Angels’ Preaching
Out of three angels in Rev. Ch. 14, the first angel in the sky preaches the everlasting gospel to everyone (v. 7) presumably so that people come to faith, which would result in, sorry to say, a form of “Tribulation saints”. It’s important to note that this is all happening during what PreWrathers call the Wrath.
The third angel preaching from the sky warns not to take the mark of the Beast (v. 9). We can safely assume he does that so that people won’t be eternally damned but rather resist the Antichrist and be saved.
Immediately after that in the same chapter and context, it says:
12 Here is the [g]patience of the saints; here[h] are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying [i]to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
If this precedes the rapture, why is their blessed hope to die and not live to see the rapture? But if this is post-rapture, as pretribbers believe it to be, then you definitely have here people who have “faith in Jesus,” (12) yet are offered no hope of a rapture, but whose better prospects are to die. So again, we have here Tribulation Saints, or more accurately, Tribulation Martyrs.
5. Those singing the song of the Lamb.
Furthermore, Rev 15:2 mentions “those who overcame the beast and her image and her mark singing the song of the Lamb.” Notice, this is part of the prelude to the 7 bowls. It doesn’t say they’re the 144,000 so it must at least include others who are not part of the 144,000. These people are believers in Jesus because they’re singing the “song of the Lamb”, yet they’re going to live through the wrath. Alan Kurschner, who heavily promotes PreWrath, insists we’ll all be raptured and no believer will live during the wrath. But this passage is yet another indication that there are indeed Tribulation Saints. [Then in 16:2, boils are poured on all those who have the mark (not on those who don’t). Again, we can quite safely assume that those who don’t have the Mark have overcome and are singing the song of the Lamb, as in 15:2 (although I’d be willing to drop that specific point).]
And last, but not least:
6. The Resurrection Before the Millennium
Right at the end we have the last resurrection mentioned in Rev 20:4-6, just before the millennial reign begins:
“4 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 worshiped 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]a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
This is definitely a resurrection. To anyone who realises that saints die throughout the 70th week, it makes perfect sense that they would be raised to enjoy the millennial reign just before it begins. But this resurrection really bothers Alan Kurschner and the PreWrath camp, so he redefines it thus: “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…” (italics and underline in original).(Footnote 2) Yet it’s clearly a resurrection, however inconvenient the timing of it is for Alan Kurschner and the PreWrath camp, because as opposed to the unbelievers who were not resurrected and “did not live again”, as it says, the ones who suffered for Jesus did live again. They weren’t raptured, they were raised to live again. And it makes perfect sense for anyone sensible, because now all those who died during the Great Tribulation or the Day of the LORD for their testimony of Jesus will be raised to live and reign with Christ during the millennial Kingdom.
These verses, about the last resurrection before the millennium, tie in with one of the PreWrathers’ favourite passages, Rev 6:9-11:
“9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”
These verses describe the 5th seal. PreWrathers believe we’re raptured in the 6th seal. But since we don’t read of any particular deaths between the 5th seal and the supposed rapture of the 6th seal, the logical assumption would be that the martyrs of the 5th seal, who are waiting for the other martyrs to join them, is referring to none other than the ongoing persecution of the saints throughout the 70th week, especially through the latter half of it, as the Scriptures clearly teach in several places.
Why Do They Do This?
We could ask, Why is there such a strong objection to the existence of Tribulation Saints in the PreWrath camp? What’s their issue with what seems like a side issue? Why can’t they have a form of tribulation saints of their own, and accept Rev 20:4-6 as a last resurrection for those saints?
The existence of Tribulation Saints strengthens the dispensational doctrine of the Church. In turn, a clear understanding of what the Church is and who its members are makes you lean more naturally toward a pretribulational rapture. And Vice Versa. Once you blur the distinction between Tribulation Saints and the Church, and blur the doctrine of the Church altogether, you end up in an eschatological mess that makes you prefer not to see the existence of saints after the rapture at all, and at any cost. This is why PreWrathers tend to blur the doctrine of the Church, and sometimes outright deny it. This is why they keep a distance from dispensationalism, while borrowing heavily from its concepts, and prefer to declare themselves as “Progressive Dispensationalists”.(Footnote 3)
All of the points above point very clearly to the existence of Tribulation Saints. The reason PreWrathers avoid seeing the existence of Tribulation Saints at all costs is not obvious at first, but it makes sense, once you understand it generally weakens their eschatological position, so it would be hard for them to drop this point.
- ““… till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:”
- 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”.
- Another reason would be that PreWrathers try to keep the First Resurrection to a single event, and the existence of Tribulation Saints after the rapture would make it into an order of events, as pretribbers like myself believe. We all like to keep things simple, but we can’t do so at the expense of Scripture, otherwise we’d prefer Unitarianism to avoid the complexity of Trinitarianism.