Is the Great Tribulation an Anti-Climax?
Q: I have been asked by my pastor to share the prewrath position with my church in the near future. I have read Marvin Rosenthal's Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church and am now reading your book Before God's Wrath. While doing some additional research, I ran across a website entitled "Pre-Wrath Confusion," which claims to have been produced by George W. Zeller and Miles Stanford of The Middletown Bible Church.
While I firmly believe the pre-wrath view, they advance a series of questions that I am unable to answer. Any insight you would care to offer on this point would be greatly appreciated.
The pre-wrath view teaches that the Day of the Lord begins after the Great Tribulation and that the Day of the Lord is the time of God’s wrath. Matthew 24:21, Daniel 12:1 and Jeremiah 30:7 all teach that the Great Tribulation is the greatest time of trouble that the world has ever known. Therefore, if the Day of the Lord is distinct from the Great Tribulation, then the Day of the Lord must be less severe than the Great Tribulation. But how can the great day of God’s wrath be less severe and less troublesome than the Great Tribulation? How can God’s wrath be less severe than man’s wrath? How can the trumpets and bowls be less severe than the fifth seal? How can God’s wrath be less severe than Satan’s wrath? How can unregenerate men and Satan cause more trouble for this world than the wrathful judge Himself? The pre-wrath view, when compared with Matthew 24:21 and these other verses, makes the Day of the Lord an anti-climax!
Rosenthal confuses the issue even more because he says that the Day of the Lord will be "the most awesome period of divine judgment the world will ever know" (p. 126). But how can the most awesome period of divine judgment the world will ever know be a less severe time of trouble than the Great Tribulation?
A: I think the answer here is one of focus. The seals, trumpets, and bowls are judgments that fall upon the world as a whole. The focus of the discussion of the Great Tribulation and the Time of Jacob's Trouble is always the nation of Israel and the Church. From the prewrath perspective, the Great Tribulation is not judgment at the hand of God but persecution at the hand of man, the Antichrist. In this sense, it will be the most severe in history, but at the end, both Israel and the Church are saved out of it (the Church is raptured and Israel escapes into the wilderness). This ends the Great Tribulation / Time of Jacob's Trouble and leaves the wrath of God during the trumpets and the bowls to fall upon the unrepentant world.
So, while the seals and the Great Tribulation occur concurrently, the prewrath view does not see them as the same event in the program of God. Hence the Great Tribulation, the likes of which the world will never see again, ends while the judgments of God upon the unrepentant world continue.
Q: A little while ago my wife's cousin sent me a copy of the book by Robert Van Kampen entitled The Sign. Shortly after that, I bought the book The Sign: A Personal Study Guide from Amazon.com, which I thought would be an excellent study guide to use alongside the book. I was