The subject of the Rapture and Tribulation is taking the Christian world by storm. As was pointed out in the preceding issue of The Lampstand (Vol 9, No 1—Jan/Feb 2003) the whole subject has become the basis for highly popular novels and films in the world. Our feature articles this issue will look at this subject a little more closely.
If the popular view is incorrect, what is the basic evangelical evidence used to support it? The following summary has been drawn from several popular evangelical web sites. The tragedy in presenting this information is that it is almost identical to some modern Christadelphian views on Bible prophecy.

Overview—The Evangelical Christian View

The following is a time-line of events as depicted by evangelical Christianity.

Signs of Jesus’ coming appear—Temple built, apostasy, famine, war, earthquakes, beginning of birth pangs, etc (2 Thess 2:3–5; Matt 24:3–14)

Rapture occurs—Christians are caught up to Jesus in the air (1 Thess 4:13–17)

Start of tribulation—Man of Sin comes (Dan 9:27)

Peace and safety—Covenant of peace made (1 Thess 5:2,3; Dan 9:27)

Birth pangs—Suffering has arrived (1 Thess 5:3; Matt 24:7,8)

Abomination of Desolation (Dan 9:27; Matt 24:15; 2 Thess 2:3,4)

Jacob’s Trouble—Great Tribulation (Matt 24:21; Jer 30:7)

Second Coming—Jesus comes, conquers the nations and destroys the Man of Sin (Matt 24: 29,31; 2 Thess 2:8–12)

Kingdom established—Jesus reigns (Dan 7:21–28 Rev 19:11–20:6)

Satan Released—Last war (Dan 7:12; Rev 20:7–10)

Judgment—Book of Life opened (Dan 12:1-3; Matt 25:31–46; Rev 20:11–15)

Heaven or Hades—Eternal life with God or eternal suffering away from God (Dan 12:2,3; Matt 25:46; Rev 21 and 22; 2 Thess 1:9)

Basically this interpretation can be broken into several parts—the signs of Christ’s coming appear first, followed by the Rapture; followed by a period of 31/2 years of peace and safety (first part of the tribulation); followed by the appearance of the abomination of desolation in a rebuilt temple; followed by a continuation of tribulation (a period of intense suffering) for another 31/2 years and then finally the return of Christ to the earth.

Summary

This brief look at the church’s teaching concerning the Rapture and Tribulation demonstrates some of the flaws which make up this speculative concept. It is sad to discover that a number of these evangelical arguments (particularly those relating to a future time of trouble for 31/2 years) have been copied by parts of the brotherhood and re-introduced as ‘new’ prophetic interpretations. The arguments are a little more sophisticated but in essence they say the same thing. It behoves all of us to re-acquaint ourselves with the proper teaching of the prophets, so that when our Lord returns we may be accounted worthy to stand in his presence with exceeding joy.