In the Olivet discourse, found in Matthew 24, Jesus warns against deception in the end-times. The disciples asked Him, "What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" This Olivet sermon is the longest teaching on prophecy given by our Lord. It sweeps a wide panorama of last days' events and concepts.
But, before He talks about the signs of the end-times, before speaking of the abomination that occurs in the temple, or the fleeing into the wilderness, or the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens, or the blossoming of the fig tree, or the parable of the ten virgins, or of the judgment of the sheep and the goats, the very first thing He talks about is deception.
Matthew 24:4-5 NIV
4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.
Not only does Jesus preface His prophetic message with this warning, He brings it up several times during this discourse. Let me give you some examples.
Matthew 24:11 NIV
11 And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
Matthew 24:23-27 NIV
23 At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or, `There he is!' do not believe it.
24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible.
25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 "So if anyone tells you, `There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, `Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.
27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
The question naturally arises, How can one tell the real Jesus from a false Christ?" Just suppose that someday a powerful person, a miracle worker would appear on the Mount of Olives. He is not in the desert or the secret "inner room." He is not in New York, Dallas, San Francisco, London or Rome. He is right where Zechariah 4:4 says the Messiah will be one day -- right on the Mount of Olives. How would one know the True from the false Christ?
Firstly, I don't care if he looks what we think Jesus should look, is able to work miracles, healing the sick,……or even has nail prints in his hands. I will still know that he is a fake. Why am I so sure of this? The answer to that question is one of the reasons why it is so important for Christians to study what the Bible says about end-time prophecy. It also points out, as we studied in our last lesson, why it is important to understand the Rapture as a distinct and totally separate event from the "Revelation" of Jesus Christ.
I hope you hear me carefully. It is impossible for a Christian who believes fully in the Rapture of the Church to be deceived by a false christ. You ask, "how is that so?"
If your feet are still on the ground,...
o if you have not first risen to meet Jesus in the air,
o if you do not have your glorified body,
o if you are not disease-free or fatigue proof,
o if you have not been raptured and given an immortalized body,…..
o then, without any doubt, IT IS NOT JESUS. It is someone or something else over there on the Mount of Olives.
In other words, anyone that comes, saying they are the Christ before we have been raptured IS A FAKE. The coming of Christ to the earth follows the Rapture.
Understanding what the Bible says about the Rapture of the Church does not insure you against all suffering or persecution in this world. But it does insure that you will never be fooled by a false second coming of a "christ" that is not Jesus.
Now, just when is this RAPTURE going to happen?
o Will it occur following the tribulation, where there is little or no time between the Rapture and the coming of Christ to the earth? That is the position of the Post-Tribulationist.
o Or will Christ come after 3½ of the 7-years have elapsed. That is the position of the Mid-Tribulationist.
o Or will the church endure ¾ of the Tribulation period as the Pre Wrath Rapturist.
Or will the church be caught up prior to this coming world-wide holocaust as is believed by the Pre-Tribulationist.
As stated in our last lesson, all Premillennialists believe the same as to when the Revelation occurs. That is, the return of Christ to the earth will happen at the end of the Tribulation. It is the timing of the Rapture where they differ.
So, the question we will seek to answer in this lesson is this: Will the Church go through all or any part of the coming 7-year Tribulation?
If you have been in any of our previous lessons during this series, you probably already know my position. NO! the Church will NOT go through any of the 7-year tribulation.
Today I want to give a number of reason why I believe the Bible favors a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. By no means will I have time today to give them all. But I hope to give you 7 or 8 of them. While the reasons I give are to show why the Pre-Tribulation position is best, by there very nature, each will also speak against some or all of the other views. I will start with those that show the necessity of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, which, at the same time, will argue against all other positions. Later I will give evidence that speak to a Pre-tribulation Rapture, but argue against only the Post-Tribulation Rapture position simultaneously.
1. Christ's coming for His Church is Imminent.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE WORLD "IMMINENT"?
The dictionary defines "imminent" as "the quality or condition of being about to happen." It means that an event is certain to occur at any point in the future, and that it could occur before our next breath but its precise timing is unknown. It also conveys the assumption that no intervening event must occur before the event that is imminent.
Imminency as it relates to Bible prophecy simply means, the return of Jesus Christ for the Church is an event that can happen at any moment and there are no events that much occur before it does. While another event could occur before it, there is no requirement that it does. Let me give you an example.
A world traveler says he will return home anytime between November 1st and Christmas. Once Nov. 1st occurs, his return is imminent. The traveler might return anytime after that date. Even though Thanksgiving might occur prior to his return, nothing in his message about arriving soon required it to occur first.
In his book Triumphant Return, Grant Jeffrey says: "Imminence is the combination of two conditions - certainly and uncertainly." When we speak of an imminent event, we mean one which is certain to occur at some time. The uncertainty speaks of our not knowing exactly when.
As Christians, the Bible over and over again tell us to watch for the appearing of our Lord. For the Christian, no other events must occur first. If we were looking for other event, his coming would not be imminent.
Imminency as it relates to Bible prophecy simply means, the return of Jesus Christ for His Church is an event that can happen at any moment. There are no warning signs or something that would signal a countdown to the Rapture. As Christians, we are to remain on alert 24 hours, 7-days a week.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture position is the only one of the 5 Pre-millennial views, which hold to an imminent return of Jesus Christ to take his Bride. All other views require certain events to transpire prior to Christ's coming in the air. All other positions require us to look for the Antichrist before we are to expect Jesus Christ. All other views hold that the church must witness the killing of at least 1½ billion people in a single event known as the 4th Seal, mentioned in Revelation 6:8.
The only way for the rapture to be truly imminent is to have it transpire before the tribulation. If the Church was required to wait until after certain events were manifested, then there really would not be a doctrine of imminency. To say it another way, to believe in Christ's imminent return requires a person to be a Pre-tribulationist.
The doctrine of imminence does not set dates for the Rapture. In fact, it does not really indicate that the coming of Christ for His Church must actually happen in the near future -- but rather that it COULD happen at any moment. And that moment will be at the Father's appointed time.
Since Christ left this earth with the promise to return again, the apostles and the church, during its first 3 centuries, have felt that He could return at any moment. I believe they fully expected Christ to come back in their lifetime.
The very phrase - MARANATHA - which the early Christians used to greet each other, gives evidence of their belief in the imminent return. It demonstrated their ever-present hope for the imminent return of their Savior.
Maranatha is an Aramaic word derived from 3 other Aramaic words.
Mar - means "Lord"
Ana - means "our"
Tha - means "come."
It literally means, "Our Lord Comes."
Paul admonishes those to whom he preached to look for Christ to return. He never once told them to expect any of the Tribulation events first -- nor the signing of a treaty between Israel and the Antichrist.
I could bring before you more than 30 Scriptures which I believe speak of the imminent return of Christ. Let me present just a few.
Phil 3:20 NIV
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ
Heb 9:28 NIV
28 So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
1 Cor 1:7 NIV
7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
The coming of Christ for his Church has no warning - no signals. The Church was told to be watchful for the imminent coming of our Lord.
1 Thess 1:10 NIV
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead-Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
Titus 2:13 NIV
13 Waiting for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Each of these verse, and many more, admonish Christians to look for the coming of Christ at any moment. God, in His wise providence, has designed Bible prophecy in such a manner that the Rapture has appeared imminent to Christians in every generation. Nothing is a better motivator than to believe Jesus could come at any moment. An imminent Rapture moves us to greater consecration, to holy living in an unholy age, and evangelism and missions.
While we do not assert that our brothers and sisters who are looking for the Savior after the Tribulation are deceived by the devil, we do not think their positions does anything to motivate the body of Christ to heed their Savior's word, "occupy till I come." (Luke 19:13)
The dozens of Scriptural admonitions to watch, be ready, to look for Christ to come at any moment, loses its significance if in fact we are to watch for other events first. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture position is the only one that preserves the imminent return of Christ for His bride.
2. The Tribulation is "Daniel's 70th Week."
A couple of months ago, we looked at how many Old Testament prophets, when speaking of the end times, skipped over the church age when spelling out the end-time events. Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks was one example I gave you at that time. We noted, from Daniel 9, that within the first 69 weeks, there are to be a number of events from the command to rebuild the Jewish temple until the time of Christ, their Messiah. Then the prophecy skipped over the church age. The 70th week is represented by the 7-year Tribulation.
All Rapture positions but the Pre-Tribulation Rapture require that the church be present during the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy even though it was absent from the first 69. This is in spite of the fact that Daniel 9:24 indicates that all 70 weeks are for Israel. The purpose of the Tribulation is heavily Jewish in nature.
Jeremiah 30:7 NKJV
7 Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob's trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.
WHOSE TROUBLES ARE BEING MENTIONED HERE?
Obviously it is Jacob's troubles. That means it is for Israel. The tribulation will be a time of great trouble for Israel. This is especially so during the last half of the 7-year Tribulation. They will be brought to a place of national repentance. Four verses later, in Jeremiah 30:11, we see that Israel is going to be punished. Zechariah 13:8-9 add more details, letting us know that only one-third of Israel will come through the Tribulation. Two-thirds will be purged out. I believe that Jesus will come for His bride prior to the time of Jacob's troubles.
By the above statements, I do not mean that the Tribulation is only for the Jews. We also see God's judgment on the unbelieving gentile world as well.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture position is the only one that distinguishes between Israel and the Church. As I have stated in earlier lessons, one of the major reasons for all other views, comes from confusion with trying to mix the Church and Israel. We have already established that God has a separate prophetic Future for both the Church and the Jews.
3. The church is not mentioned in the book of Revelation, from chapter 4 through 18.
The church is mentioned 17 times in the first three chapters of Revelation. But after John is called up to heaven in Chapter 4, he looks down on the events of the Tribulation and the church is never mentioned again or seen until Chapter 19. At that time, she returns with her bridegroom, Jesus Christ, which signifies that the marriage has already happened. Why is she not mentioned? For me it's simple - she is not on earth, and does not go through the tribulation.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture position most clearly fits the flow of the Book of Revelation. If you take the Book of Revelation as literally as the context will allow, it will show that the Book of Revelation is a Pre-Tribulational book.
If you broaden our study of the Tribulation beyond the lengthy account in the book of Revelation you again will see that the church is NEVER mentioned in connection with any Tribulation Passage. Such silence speaks loudly and supports the pre-tribulation position, especially when combined with clear, explicit statements that promise her exemption from that time of testing.
4. God promises to keep the Church out of the Tribulation.
In 1 Thess 1:9-10 NIV, Paul
9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
These people in Thessalonica were waiting for Christ from heaven to be delivered from the wrath that was to come upon the earth. Paul does not instruct them that other events must occur first. He was writing to quiet their anxious hearts about those who already had died. Aside from the point about turning from idols to the true and living God, Paul stresses waiting "for God's Son….. Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come."
The answer that Post Tribulationists give to this is that the wrath spoken of here is the wrath of hell, not the wrath of God. They say that this is simply a statement that says when you become a Christian, you have been delivered from the wrath of hell. The reason I cannot buy that is that the wrath in verse 10 is still future ("…to come."). Well, they say that hell is yet future. But, according to the Bible, I am delivered from the wrath of hell the moment I turn to Jesus Christ in faith and trust. I am already justified by the blood of Christ and delivered from the wrath placed upon those who reject the Savior. But the reverse implication is found in John 3:36. He that believeth not the Son shall not see life but the WRATH of God abideth on him. Therefore, if a person does believe, then God's wrath already does NOT abide on him.
Here are a few more Biblical promises God gives to the Church.
1 Thess 5:9 NIV
9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse closely follows the strongest passages in the Bible on the Rapture. 1 Thess. 4:16-18 should be very familiar to us by now. We have looked at it a number of times during our series. That's the Passage that says the "dead in Christ will rise first…." The following chapter must be seen within the same context.
Romans 5:9 NIV
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
Luke 21:36 NIV
36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
Revelation 3:10 NIV
10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
This Passage says that the purpose of the coming "hour of trial (testing)" is to "test all those who dwell on the earth." Whenever that phrase is used in Revelation, it always refers to unbelievers. Not once to believers. (See Rev. 6:10; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8)
This promise was given to the church at Philadelphia. Some say this means believers are protected during testing instead of from testing. Can God keep of through severe testing? Absolutely He can. But that is not what He say here.
The word rendered "from" in this verse is from the Greek preposition "ek." It has various connotations that denote exit out of or separation from something with which there once was a connection. (Examples: From a place, or from the midst of a group, etc.) This prepositions is used over 800 times in the Bible and is never used in the sense where it might include going through a tribulation.
As for those who try to make this verse indicate that God will keep us "through" the tribulation time, or "in" the time of testing, the usual Greek for "through" is the preposition "dia." The usual Greek words for "in" is en, eis, eip and kata. Ek is not the word to be used in order to indicate that God will keep a hedge of protection around us "in" and "through" the Tribulation.
It is also important to note that it is not simply the temptation, or testing, that our Lord promises to keep His own out of, but it is the very hour of testing we are kept from. It is not just the testing God keeps us out of but He keeps us from the total hour that is, from the very time period of the testing. By the way, the definite article "the" in the Greek text is found in front of "hour" and in front of the word "testing." It is referring to "THE hour of THE testing." The reason this is important is that this isn't just any old testing. It is a particular one. And this testing will come upon the whole world. There should be no doubt about which testing this is. And we are promised that we will be kept completely out of it.
5. The Wrath of God
The big question now is, "When is the wrath of God displayed during the 7 years?" Is it displayed throughout the 7 years, or is it limited to a specified shorter period? If it starts at the beginning of the Tribulation, that would strongly support a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
As we have just noted, there are many passages in the Word of God which promise the Church that they will be spared the wrath of God, yet to come. These promises are a problem for the Post-Tribulationist. For if the Church is present during the Tribulation, they either are here to suffer this wrath and great indignation, which is contrary to the promises we have been reading, or God puts a hedge about them so they are sort of "immune" from it all. But then, that would be contrary to a number of other Passages, like the verse we just read - Rev. 3:10 where it speaks about a testing that is to:
1. Come upon ALL the earth,
2. Test, or try, ALL that dwell on the earth.
During this testing, the Post Tribulationist would put the Church. According to this verse, we know that none on earth are immune from the testing.
At first glance, this argument in support of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture does not appear to harm the position of the Mid-Tribulationist or the Pre-Wrath Rapturist. Each of these also believe that the Church escapes the wrath of God. And each believes only a part of the 7 years involves the wrath of God. The rest is purely the wrath of man or the wrath of Satan. So the natural question is: "When does the wrath of God begin?"
I believe that each of the positions, except for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position, raise a serious question about the sovereignty of God. It assumes that Man and Satan can always act apart from God's permission. The Bible often portrays God carrying out His will through evil persons or nations. One of the classic examples is when He allowed the evil nation of Babylon to discipline Israel by destroying Jerusalem and the Temple and by carrying away the surviving Jews into captivity. This action by God prompted the Prophet Habakkuk to ask why God would punish those who are evil by using those which are more evil. (Hab. 1:13)
Any carnage wrought by Man or Satan during the Tribulation will still constitute the wrath of God. They will simply be His instruments. The Bible says God sits in the heavens and laughs over the plots and deeds of evil men -- not because He does not care, but because He has everything under control (Psalm 2:1-6)
The psalmist wrote, in Psalm 76:10:
"The wrath of man shall praise you (God)."
Let's actually look at the book of Revelation to see if we can determine what is God's wrath. I do believe, as most do, that the first half of the 7-year Tribulation is less severe than the last half. By that, I do not mean the first half is without severity. Christ may have called the 2nd half "Great Tribulation" (Matthew 24:21), but He called the 1st half "The beginning of sorrows." (Matthew 24:8). This is a reference to "birth pangs."
ARE THE FIRST 5 SEALS PART OF THE WRATH OF GOD?
I start here, because almost all positions believe these occur early in the Tribulation. Where do these seals originate? Let's look at Revelation 5.
Revelation 5:1-5 NIV
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?"
3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.
4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
5 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."
Revelation 6:1 NIV
1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!"
In considering whether or not the wrath of God is being meted out early in the Tribulation period, we need to remember just Who is opening the seals. It is mentioned in Chapter 5 that Christ (the Lamb) took the scroll out of the right hand of Him that sat on the throne. He is thereby indicating His right to administer judgment.
At the opening of each seal, the punitive forces that are released produce successive waves of judgment that build to its ultimate climax. I believe that ALL the judgments of the Book of Revelation are presented as judgments of God against a Christ rejecting world, no matter who or what the agency of that judgment may be. Some may object, saying, "doesn't Rev. 6:15-17 indicate when the wrath of God begins?" Let's look at what those verses say.
Rev 6:15-17 NIV
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.
16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who can stand?"
This is part of the 6th Seal judgment.
Let me make a couple of comments.
Firstly, to believe that the 6th seal is the beginning of the wrath of God, based on it being the first mention of God's wrath is to separate the 6th seal from the previous 5. But all the seals are a series of judgments and should not be so disjointed.
Secondly, we need to keep in mind who is making the statement in the verse we just read in Rev. 6:15-17.
WHO IS DECLARING THE WORDS WE FIND IN VERSE 7?
They are not men of God, but are part of the ungodly upon whom the Lord is sending His judgment. And, even when these things are occurring, you witness no repentance at all. No, those speaking here are not godly prophets, and I think those who look at this verse to indicate the beginning of the wrath of God, need to be careful about what prophets they are willing to believe.
Thirdly, the fourth seal seems to tell of judgments that could not be unleashed by men or Satan.
Revelation 6:7-8 NIV
7 When the Lamb [Christ] opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!"
8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
1½ Billion people are going to be killed during this holocaust. ¼ of the world's population will be destroyed. This would not happen unless God permitted it to be so.
The same kind of information is found when we come to the early trumpets, which all groups except those with a Pre-Tribulation View hold is very early in the Tribulation. Where do the trumpets originate? From the same source - the throne of God. Look at how the 7 trumpets are introduced.
Revelation 8:1-7 NIV
1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.
4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand.
5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
These certainly look like judgments from God to me. Before the first trumpet sound, the angel is directed by God to fill the censer with fire from the altar and hurl it at the earth.
When we arrive at the Bowl judgments, we are told, in Rev. 15:1, they will finish - bring to a close - the judgments of God. There should be no doubt, by that statement, all of the bowl judgments are included in the "wrath of God". But the Post-Tribulationist, all of whom claim that the seals, trumpets and bowls are concurrent thus placing the first several bowls early in the 7-year Tribulation.
No, I think the Bible, very solidly, places all of the seals, trumpets and bowls as part of the wrath of God.
6. Jewish Wedding Customs
We spent an entire lesson on this topic, so I won't elaborate much here. You may remember that part of the Jewish custom was the 7-days spent in the Bridal chamber which was located in the home of the father of the groom. This very much parallels the 7 years during the Tribulation, where the Church and Christ spend 7 years in the Father's home.
7. Events between the rapture and the revelation
The bible indicates a number of very significant, time-consuming, events must occur between the Rapture of the Church and the Revelation of Christ.
1. The judgment seat of Christ (called the "BEMA")
2. The wedding of the Lamb and His bride.
3. The honeymoon - time in the bridal chamber.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, each Christian will individually give an account of his/her life for all the deeds done while they were in their human body. We will say more of what that entails in a later lesson.
In John 14:1-3, Jesus promises to come and take his Bride to his Father's home in heaven. Well, what location did He mean when He said, "I will come again, that where I am, there you may be also."
If "where I am" is not heaven, then the whole passage loses its meaning. But I think another passage will help us solidify this thought. Our Lord told the Pharisees in John 7:34, "Where I am you cannot come." He certainly could not have been talking about His present abode on earth, but rather His resurrected presence at the right hand of the Father.
The Post-Tribulation position doesn't allow time for these events to occur. They essentially teach that the Church will rise to meet the Lord in the air, and then immediately turn around to follow Christ to the Battle of Armageddon. There is no time for these very important events. In fact, we don't even go to heaven at this time.
8. Who will populate the earth during the 1000 year reign of Christ?
Here is another area for you to think about.
Matt 13:24-30 NIV
24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
28 "`An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
29 "`No,' he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
This passage speaks of a time when the tares (weeds = ungodly) and the wheat (godly) are separated. Jesus says the method to be used at this time is to pick the weeds out of the remainder not pick the wheat out of the remainder. This is exactly what is being portrayed by Christ in the Olivet discourse, found in Matthew 24 & 25. You and I know it as the judgment of the sheep and goats.
Matt 25:31-33 NIV
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Both of these Passages are speaking about an event that will happen very shortly following Christ's coming to earth to set up His kingdom. In the first Passage, the weeds represent the ungodly, while the wheat represent the godly. In the latter Passage, the goats represent the ungodly, while the sheep represent the godly. Then in verse 46, Jesus says the unrighteous are destroyed.
I have a question for the Post-Tribulationist. If the rapture occurred at the second coming, why would the sheep and the goats need to be separated immediately after the Second Coming. Wouldn't the rapture at the second coming already have separated the sheep and the goats. We know that immediately after the Rapture, whenever it occur, there will be no righteous people on the earth. They have already been raptured. On the other hand, those believing in a pre-tribulation rapture, allows for a multitude of people to accept Christ as their Messiah or Savior during the Tribulation. In that case, there would be a need to separate the sheep from the goats.
Let me add another question for the Post-Tribulationist alone this same line. If all believers are raptured at the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation, and if all of the ungodly depicted in these verses as "weed" and "goats" are destroyed, who are the mortals that will populated the earth when Christ sets up his kingdom?
If all believers are raptured at the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation, that means they will have received their translated, immortal, bodies. And if all the ungodly are destroyed, as we just learned, whose left to populate the Millennium?
When Christ promises the church that they will reign with Christ, who are they reigning over? We know they are non-resurrected mortals, because we are told they will have children (Matthew 22:30). If the rapture is before the Tribulation, the people saved after the rapture who are alive at the Second Coming will populate the earth during the Millennium.