How Many Second Comings? Part 3

This is a continuation of How Many Second Comings? Part 2

11. He claims His bride vs. He comes with His bride

According to Rev. 19:7, the Bride has just “made herself ready” at the very close of the tribulation! That is when the people in heaven announce that the time for the “Marriage of the Lamb is come.”According to A.T. Robertson: ” Is come (hlyen). Prophetic aorist, come at last.” The aorist tense implies a suddenness, completeness, or wholeness of the event. In this case, the time for the “marriage of the Lamb” has just arrived. Also, regarding the Bride’s making herself ready, “made ready” is also aorist active indicative, implying she has just now finally made herself ready. Immediately, heaven opens and Christ descends. Contrary to what pretribulationists think, the marriage of the Lamb is not said to occur in heaven. The scene in the first part of Revelation 19 is that of the Groom about to depart to go and fetch His bride. That is the reason for the excitement and anticipation in heaven because, “The bride has made herself ready.”

The time for the marriage has finally come at the extreme end of the tribulation! If Christ had come to claim His bride at the beginning of the tribulation in Revelation, as Ice thinks, then why the seven year delay before she is finally ready to be married? It is much better to conclude that the exclamation at the very end of the tribulation, the Bride has “made herself ready” for the wedding, and the time for the “marriage of the Lamb” has finally arrived, both indicating a posttribulation wedding. If the Bride’s becoming ready and the marriage are posttribulation, then the “claiming” of the bride at the rapture is more likely to be posttribulation as well. Otherwise we have the extremely awkward scenario of Christ’s coming for His Bride seven years before she is ready for the wedding, and taking her into His house seven years prior to their being married! Once again, Ice has assumed what he is trying to prove. And his assumptions flow counter to the facts revealed in Revelation, and with the Jewish wedding customs.

12. Only His own see Him vs. Every eye shall see Him

Where does Ice get the idea that only believers see Christ at His coming? No passage of Scripture says so. In fact, John anticipated the rapture when joyful expectation when he wrote, “Behold He comes with clouds! and every eye shall see Him…” (Rev. 1:7). Ice is fabricating “facts” in order to allege “mutually exclusivity” of other facts stated in Scripture.

13. Tribulation begins vs. Millennial Kingdom begins

Where in Scripture does the tribulation follow the rapture? Again, Ice is fabricating his facts. Ice then makes the following statement; “John Walvoord concludes that these ‘contrasts should make it evident that the translation of the church is an event quite different in character and time from the return of the Lord to establish His kingdom, and confirms the conclusion that the translation takes place before the tribulation.'”As we have shown, additional details provided by one passage but not another are not “contrasts.” Nor are fabricated “details” that conflict with genuine details legitimate “contrasts.” Also, even IF all of the above points were valid contrasts and proved that the rapture and second coming will occur at different times, Walvoord’s and Ice’s conclusion from them is not valid. The pre-wrath view could absorb all of the above points as being true contrasts, and still maintain a pre-wrath rapture (being just a few months or weeks before the second coming). None of the above false contrasts, if true, would make the rapture seven years before the second coming, or necessitate a pre-70th week rapture.

Additional (Alleged) Distinctions

In this section Ice repeated some of the above points, and added a couple more. The first additional point was to appeal to the “rapture” as being a “mystery.” He cites 1 Cor. 15:51-54 to support his claim. But, what does this passage mention? There is no rapture specifically mentioned in this passage! There is only the resurrection of the dead and changing of the living. By Ice’s own standards, this should not be a “rapture” passage! Additionally, if the “mystery” was a pretribulation rapture, we would expect Paul to explain that the rapture is pretribulational after saying, “behold I show you a mystery.” But he does no such thing!

Ice has made two glaring errors here. First, the word “mystery” was not applied by Paul to the catching up of the saints, the coming of the Lord, the “rapture,” the tribulation, or anything related to TIMING. Paul stated clearly what this “mystery” was that he was about to reveal. He wrote, “Behold, I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”

That is the “mystery” according to Paul. Not all believers will die, but all will be changed. In other words, some will be changed via resurrection, but others will be changed without dying at all! Ice would have us believe that the “mystery” is that the rapture is pretribulational, and not the same coming as the second coming after the tribulation.

But, without the rapture itself being mentioned, the tribulation, or the timing of any events, it is hard to support such an assumption. Paul would not tell the Corinthians, “Behold, I show you a mystery” and then utterly fail to explain to them what this “mystery” was! Rather, the “mystery” Paul wished to reveal to the Corinthians was merely a distinction between the resurrecting of some and the transformation without dying of others.

Secondly, the word “mystery” is consistently misrepresented by Ice and other dispensationalists. Scripture most often uses the term in the sense of something heard (or known) but not fully understood. Ice uses the term as something wholly unheard-of heretofore. Please see Mark 4:1-12 for a good example of “mystery” meaning something heard but not fully understood.

The second additional “contrast” cited by Ice has to do with John 14:1-3, where he interprets “my Father’s house” as heaven, something not supported by Jesus’ earlier usage of the term, “My Father’s house” (cf. John 2:16:17), or with the common expression in the Old Testament, “the house of the Lord” (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4, Joel 3:18, Zechariah 14:21).

Alleged Posttribulation Problems

Problem #1 — Ice writes: “First, posttribulationism requires that the church will be present during the 70th week of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27) even though it was absent from the first 69. This is in spite of the fact that Daniel 9:24 says that all 70 weeks are for Israel. Pretribulationism is not in conflict with this passage, as is posttribulationism, since the church departs before the beginning of the seven-year period.”

We agree that the New Covenant Church began after the end of the 69th week. But, why is it a problem that the Church is on earth in the 70th week? Is there some reason why God cannot work on a spiritual and national level at the same time? The destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in AD70, was included in the 70 weeks prophecy too (Dan. 9:26). And this was fulfilled some forty years into the “Church age.” Ice’s statement that the 70th week is for Israel also presents a non-existent problem. Surely, Ice will acknowledge that there is a large number of “tribulation saints” from every tribe and nation still on earth in the 70th week.

Are they excluded from the 70th week on the grounds that they are not mentioned in the 70 weeks prophecy too? Will everyone on earth be raptured before the 70th week because it is for Israel? Does not Rev. 3:10 state clearly that the “hour of temptation,” which pretribulationists take as the entire 70th week, will come upon “all them that dwell upon the earth?” These things prove that the 70th week is not EXCLUSIVELY a time for Israel, but others are involved as well, despite the fact that they are not specifically mentioned in Dan. 9. That Daniel’s 70 weeks refer specifically to events related to Israel is to be expected, since the prophecy was given to Daniel in response to his interceding for his nation with prayer and fasting. If non-mention does not exclude the “tribulation saints” or “all them that dwell upon the earth,” neither does it exclude the “Church.”

Problem#2— Ice writes, “Second,posttribulationism must deny the New Testament teaching of imminency – that Christ could come at any-moment. Pretribulationism does not have a problem with these New Testament passages, since they believe that no signs must precede the rapture.”

We will devote the next article in this series proving that the Bible does NOT teach that the rapture is now imminent.

Problem #3 — Ice writes, “Third, premillennial posttribulationism has no answer to their problem of who will populate the millennium if the rapture and second coming occur at the same time. Since all believers will be translated at the rapture and all unbelievers judged, because no unrighteous shall be allowed to enter Christ’s kingdom, then no one would be left in mortal bodies to start the population base for the millennium. The pretribulation viewpoint does not have a problem at this point.”

We most certainly do have an answer to this problem, a Biblical one to boot. For now, we need only mention one passage — Zech. 14:16-19 — which states plainly that there will be some heathen, who survive Armageddon, who will enter the Millennium in natural bodies. Who does Ice think Jesus will “rule with a rod of iron?”(Rev. 2:27, 12:5, & 19:15).

Problem #4 — Ice writes, “Fourth, posttribulationism is not able to explain the sheep and goats judgment after the second coming in Matthew 25:31-46. As in the previous problem, how would there be any believers in mortal bodies, if they were raptured at the second coming, who would be available to enter into Christ’s kingdom? Pretribulationism does not have such a problem.”

This is the same as the above problem, and is resolved by the same passages. There are most definitely others besides the “sheep and goats.” Several passages refer to these others. We will devote a separate article to this question.

Problem #5 — Ice writes, “Fifth, since Revelation 19:7-8 indicates that the church, Christ’s Bride, is made ready to accompany Christ to earth (Rev. 19:14) before the second coming, how could this reasonably happen if part of the church is still on earth awaiting Christ’s Advent? If the rapture of the church takes place at the second coming, then how does the Bride (i.e., the church) also come with Christ at His return? There would not be sufficient time for this to happen within a posttribulational sequence, but the pretribulation position has no such problem.”

The problem is really Ice’s and pretribulationists. The text does not say the Bride has become ready to descend to earth. It says she has just made herself ready for the wedding. “‘Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8).

The Bride is not yet married to Christ in chapter 19. The above statement is made by the multitude in heaven in anticipation of the wedding, and the Groom leaving to fetch His bride. At the extreme end of the tribulation, the Bride has just become ready for the wedding, and the time has finally arrived for the wedding. In a posttribulation scheme, the final stages of the Bride’s becoming “ready” is the last persecution of the overcomers in the tribulation. If the “Bridal” analogy is to follow Jewish custom, the Bride must “make herself ready” BEFORE the Groom comes to fetch her. Therefore, His coming to fetch the Bride should be AFTER Rev. 19:7-8 and not seven years before, as in Ice’s scheme.

Likewise, in the Jewish wedding, the marriage takes place immediately after the Bride has been fetched by the Groom and brought to their future home. In Ice’s scenario, the Groom fetches the bride seven years before she is ready, takes her to heaven (but not their future home as in the custom), and He is intimate with her for seven years before the wedding! Then after seven years of living with His bride, she finally makes herself ready for the wedding! Only after living with her for seven years does He marry her, and then instantly leaves with her from heaven to go back to the house of the bride! Ice and other pretribulationists have made havoc of the Jewish wedding customs that are clearly intended in this passage! On the other hand, the posttribulation view is perfectly consistent with the Jewish wedding customs, assumes nothing, but takes only what is plainly stated in the text.

Conclusion:

Ice’s concluding statement is as follows: “The distinctions between Christ’s coming in the air to rapture His church are too great to be reduced into a single coming at the end of the tribulation. These biblical distinctions provide a strong basis for the pretribulation rapture teaching.”

We will leave the reader to decide if Ice has demonstrated those insurmountable distinctions. If not, he has not met the burden of proof which is clearly the responsibility of pretribulationists. We all agree on a posttribulation coming, a gathering of living saints (Matt. 24:31), and a resurrection of dead saints (Dan. 12:1-2 & Rev. 20:4-5) at the posttribulation event. In order for the pretribulation view to postulate another coming prior to the tribulation, Ice needs to show either by explicit teaching or by implicit requirements that the rapture MUST BE prior to the second coming.

And even if he could successfully do so, that would only rule out a posttribulation rapture. In order to rule out the mid-trib and pre-wrath views, he needs to also show why the rapture MUST BE before the 70th week. In my opinion, he has done none of these things. What he has shown, in my opinion, is that the pretribulation view is based on faulty reasoning and fabricated evidence. It is certainly not the result of a consistent literal hermeneutic.

Notes:

Ice, Thomas, Pretribulation Perspectives Article, THE RAPTURE AND THE SECOND COMING: AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION. http://www.according2prophecy.org/rapsec.html

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