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Imagine there’s no rapture …


A “perfect storm” of biblical proportions has wreaked havoc all over the earth. 

World War III has broken out. Nuclear and bioweapons have been used, which have wiped out millions of people in a matter of minutes.

An electromagnetic pulse has decimated everything that relies on electrical power to operate, from the most basic levels to the most technologically advanced.[i]

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There are food and medication shortages worldwide.

Out of desperation for survival, people become animalistic, willing to kill anyone just for a morsel of food.

Martial law is implemented to keep the peace, but they cannot keep up as society turns to anarchy, every man for himself.

Meanwhile, the Church sits on the edge of its seat, eagerly awaiting the rapture. “How long, oh Lord, will you keep us here? The world is crumbling around us in ways we had never expected to happen. When will you take us to heaven, as the Great Tribulation is at our doorstep?”

Slowly, news starts trickling out about someone on earth, presenting a message of hope and healing. He is turning rocks into food for people to eat, making sick people well again, and restoring power grids; he’s negotiating peace between nations pitted against each other. Things seemed hopeless, but now, this “savior” is fixing things. People start clamoring towards him in excitement and desperation. In a short time, he has brought about a worldwide peace treaty and healed the planet. He has fixed economic disparities where everyone has enough to comfortably survive. He has singlehandedly brought forth a utopia.

And the Church looks on, shocked and confused. “What in the world is going on? From what the Bible says, everything points to this person — this messianic figure—as the Antichrist. What seems to be ‘heaven’ now will turn into a literal ‘hell on earth’ in just a few years. But why are we still here? Did we miss something in our theology? Were the Left Behind books wrong?” 

But the Church is also witnessing a mighty move of the Holy Spirit. Whereas there were only hints of revival in certain places, they have morphed together into an all-consuming fire. People from all walks of life are putting their trust in Jesus worldwide. Signs and wonders manifest more frequently and powerfully, even overshadowing the miracles this “newfound savior” has brought forth, at least for those who take the time to see it. Additionally, the Church, once divided into its sects and denominations and doctrinal differences, had set all that aside to be “One,” as Christ, just before his crucifixion, prayed would happen.

In Christianity, much like any other firm belief system, there are “hills to die on.” For me, that would equate to opposing anything strictly contrary to Scripture or to doctrinal creeds. (To be clear, when referring to Scripture, I’m also alluding to newly infiltrated, theologically progressive ideas that counter biblical texts and 2,000 years of church tradition.) Then, there are those matters that some Christians deem essential, but to me, they won’t keep you out of heaven if you’re wrong.

The Bible is black-and-white over most things, but there are a few gray matters in which, to be honest, I don’t know if anyone really knows the correct answer. In those instances, I believe that we take our best theological shots at the material, and if we’re wrong, God is gracious in our ignorance.

From this, however, there is one point I feel is worth addressing, which I’m torn about. Namely, what happens if we “pre-tribulation folk” are wrong about the rapture, and the Church lives through the seven-year tribulation?

I’ve heard strong arguments on pre-tribulationism for most of my life and have believed it to be true. But does the Bible forthrightly contend that Believers will be raptured just before the 7-year tribulation begins? I’m no Hebrew or Greek scholar. Therefore, many more learned people than I can comfortably look to the original texts for evident explanations. Nevertheless, I don’t see it in any modern translation I read.

As I said, I don’t believe this matter is a “hill to die on.” Most solid Christians I know believe strongly in a pre-tribulation rapture. However, other biblically sound people make strong arguments otherwise that the Bible prophesies post-tribulationism. That is, the Church will remain active and functioning on earth during the seven-year reign of the Antichrist. God will bless and protect it despite persecution, and come the Battle of Armageddon will be as strong as it was during Pentecost. And just before this “final battle,” will the Lord then rapture His Church to join Him as He comes back to earth, crushing the enemy and vanquishing all wrongs ever done since the fall of man.

My biggest concern, though, is if Satan has used the rapture doctrine to lull Christians, mainly in the West, into complacency, believing they have a “get out of Hell on earth for free” card and, therefore, can coast into Heaven. Or, those having been beaten down so much with end-times prophecy that they largely ignore it, only focusing on the here and now. Now, I’m not discounting how “rapture” sermons, books, or movies have led people to Faith in Christ, especially from the late 1960s into the early 21st century. But America was vastly different then. Its landscape has since entered post-Christian territory. Anti-Christian sentiments and actions have increased considerably in America, yet we don’t want to admit things are getting worse. The troubles our Christian brothers and sisters endure in faraway lands, being persecuted and martyred for their faith, have never seemed relatable; we believe the stories and pray for them, but we have never experienced anything like it and like to believe we never will. 

But how logical is that assumption? Even if the rapture occurred before the Great Tribulation, nothing in Scripture states that the West would be shielded from intense persecution. How many Christians in America are ready and willing to stand firm no matter what happens? 

Things are going quickly downhill for our country, but we continue to hold our hopes for the next political election. “Things will go our way; Trump will be reelected and, just as he did in 2020, make America ‘great!’” Why do we continue to be so naïve, believing that one man holds the keys to the Kingdom, and once he really “cleans up the swamp” this time, all will be good again? On the surface, we may say “Jesus First” instead of “America First,” but in deeper soul-searching, which one do we actually choose?

Please understand I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t engage with politics, serve in public office, or vote for Donald Trump. However, what’s more important; our country becoming prosperous and moral again or a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival? Even more (knowing the following scenario would never happen but simply to drive home a point),

What if Jesus appeared today to the Church in America and said: 

OK, I’m offering you a choice. I can rapture you to heaven to escape the coming “hell on earth.” Or, I can leave you on earth to be My ambassadors, My brightest light amid the coming darkness and chaos. Despite the Antichrist’s terror, I will use you to bring about the greatest revival since Pentecost. Millions will come to know Me through your words and deeds. I will pour out My Spirit so freely it will be clear to everyone that I am the Lord; there is no other. You will see your closest friends and family members who don’t know Me yet come to experience My joy, and you will be the ones to lead them to Me. My gifts will flow through you as signs and wonders become commonplace. It won’t be easy. You will be persecuted and martyred. But, if you remain faithful to me, I will equip you with supernatural strength to stand strong whatever may come your way. I will make you like Stephen where, while he was being stoned to death, looked towards heaven and saw Me standing there, anxiously waiting to welcome him to his eternal reward (cf. Acts 7:54-60).

If we actually were given that choice, which option would we take? Would we take the easy way out or choose the better path? Even more, what would Christ want us to choose?

My whole point in writing this is not to favor one end-times viewpoint over another. It is to wake up the Church to be ready for whatever may come.

So, what if there is no “rapture” to escape the great tribulation? Or, what if there may be a pre-tribulation rapture, but before that happens, the American Church experiences horrible persecution? Would that lead us into a deeper prayer of desperation for revival in our lives, the Church, and the world? Would we then “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV) and, in death to ourselves, be raised to life by the power of the Holy Spirit?

The choice is ours to make. We can be as free and as full as we want to be. If we seek after His fullness, He will fill us to overflowing, again and again. May we remain in lockstep with Him, whether there is a pre-tribulation rapture or not, and therefore be equipped to face whatever comes our way. Indeed, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against [the Church].” (Matthew 16:18 KJV)

[i] “Perhaps the most devastating thing that could happen in any developed country would be widespread catastrophic damage to its electric power grid. Nearly everything in an industrialized nation relies on electricity to function. Without it, normal water supplies, sewer systems, and communication services are cut off. Furthermore, things like food and transportation are quickly affected when power is down for extended periods.

“A severe electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) event could take the power grid down for months, and possibly even for years. An EMP is a very intense pulse of electromagnetic energy, typically caused by the detonation of a nuclear bomb or other high-energy explosive device. A GMD, meanwhile, can be caused when a solar eruption produces a coronal mass ejection (CME) that travels from the sun to the Earth. A direct hit by an extreme CME would cause widespread power blackouts disabling everything that uses electricity. Some experts have suggested that a major EMP or GMD hit could result in the death of up to 90% of the U.S. population.”

As cited in Larson, Aaron. "How an EMP or GMD Could Destroy the Power Grid and Create Chaos." Power Magazine. April 13, 2023.

Adam Hunter is a Licensed Independent Social Worker in Ohio working as a crisis therapist. He holds a BA in psychology from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and a Master of Social Work from West Virginia University. He lives with his wife and daughter in North Central Ohio and is the author of Babel Will Fall: Is the Church Ready, available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

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