By JASON REYNOLDS
Followers of the Cross
For anyone interested in studying more about the rapture of the church, a book by Moody Publishers offers a wealth of reading.
“Evidence for the Rapture: A Biblical Case For Pretribulationism” provides plenty of spiritual food for the mind, as you would expect from a book published by Moody.
The book contains 10 essays by Christian scholars who make a case for a pretribulational rapture, or the rapture of the church taking place before the tribulation. The general editor is Dr. John F. Hart, a Bible professor at Moody Bible Institute, where he has taught for 33 years. He contributes one chapter in addition to acting as the book’s editor. Another contributor is Dr. Robert L. Thomas, who helped put together the New American Standard Bible.
Their sources include: the words of Jesus in the Gospels; Paul’s Epistles; prophetic literature; apocalyptic literature; and Israel’s history.
In the introduction, Hart writes that pretribulationists believe they can answer what seems to be contradictory end times prophecies in the Bible. The rapture is when Jesus will take the church up to Heaven and will happen at a time that cannot be predicted, pretribulationists believe. Sometime after, the tribulation, a seven-year period of divine judgments, will take place, they believe. Not all Christians believe the rapture will happen before the tribulation; some believe in a different timeline.
“From the pretribulation viewpoint, all other viewpoints of the rapture have a greater difficulty in adequately explaining the passages that teach an imminent, any-moment coming of Jesus,” Hart writes. “For once the tribulation begins, multiple signs will foretell Christ’s coming.”
Hart told me he has always been interested in Jesus’ Mt. Olivet discourse and wrote his dissertation on it. Jesus placed great emphasis on prophecy, Hart said.
The professor said not all pretribulationists believe that the Mt. Olivet sermon in Matthew 24 deals with the rapture; they believe it only concerns Jesus’ second coming. Hart said he believes the passage addresses both events. For example, he believes the thief in the night remark Jesus made refers to the rapture. Jesus’ prophetic discourse in Matthew 24 is the second longest prophetic passage in the New Testament next to the book of Revelation, Hart says.
“I think Peter, Paul and John borrowed it” in their writings, Hart said.
Dr. Michael A. Rydelnik is yet another contributor to the book. He is a professor of Jewish studies at Moody Bible Institute and a frequent commentator on Moody Radio programs.
Rydelnik argues that the nation of Israel is central to the tribulation.
“During the tribulation, God will once again make Israel His primary concern,” Rydelnik writes. “Although God will certainly express His wrath for sin during the tribulation and ultimately judge the Gentile nations, nevertheless, God’s emphasis will once again be on the Jewish people.”
Thus, Rydelnik argues, the church will be absent from the earth during the tribulation. The church is present in the first three chapters of Revelation but not later. He argues this makes a case for a pretribulation rapture. Further, Jesus promises the church in Philadelphia that He will remove them before the “hour of testing.” Rydelnik argues that this promise applies to every church around the world. God will complete the church’s work during the Rapture, he writes.
If you are a Christian who believes in a different viewpoint of the rapture, no doubt you will take issue with “Evidence For the Rapture.” There is no way I can highlight in this column every point the 10 contributors make, so I would urge you, dear reader, to study the book for yourself. The same goes for any of you, dear readers, who are not Christian: If you disagree with the premise, read the book so you can try to refute it. If you are a Christian who believes in the pretribulational rapture, this book would prove invaluable in studying the topic.
Hart’s take on the different Christian interpretations of the rapture is that maybe God has a purpose.
“God is allowing the debate to drive us back to Scripture.”
More information on the book is at: https://www.moodypublishers.com/books/bible-study-and-reference/evidence-for-the-rapture.