The Rapture Chronicles – Part 2: What the Martyrs Prove

Wilfred Hahn

We continue with the proofs that the martyrs of the Tribulation period tell us. In Part I, we concluded that ALL who become Christians during the Tribulation will die. It is a key view. Why? There are two streams of Christians—those who are raptured, and those who become believers in the Tribulation. The question of the fate of the Tribulation Christians critically affects some versions of the Rapture debate, as we will show.

Were it proven that ALL who become Christians in the Tribulation become martyrs, it makes a serious dent in the case for a Rapture occurring at any other time than before the Tribulation. For example, were there no Christians alive on earth as of the early stages of the second half 
of the Tribulation, there could be no Mid- or Post-Tribulational Rapture. It wouldn’t be logical. The Great Multitude (see Revelation 7:9, these all martyrs) are shown to be already in front of the heavenly altar at the time of the fifth and sixth seals.

If ALL Christians are indeed martyred by the mid-point of the Tribulation, who would be left to be raptured either at the midpoint, the end of the Tribulation, or the beginning of the Millennium? There would be no point, as there would be no living humans on earth who would be eligible at that time.

As the case may be, Tribulational martyrs are expressly promised to participate in the First Resurrection—in their case, this occurring at the beginning of the Millennium. For a Rapture to occur at any other time than before the Tribulation would not align with Scripture, the proofs of the Tribulational martyrs, or the character of God.

But what of the view of Rapture naysayers, who say that there is no Rapture to be expected at all? To take this position means that ALL Christians will go into the Tribulation period. More Christians would then be added to their number through conversions during the earlier stages of the Tribulation. The question arises: Why would God allow that ALL Christians (“holy ones”) in the world be killed during the Tribulation? As we have shown and will further prove in this article, all Tribulational Christians will be martyred.

First Thessalonians 5:9 states that “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore, if ALL Christians (from the time of before and during the Tribulation) will be annihilated on earth, this is a “wrath” of a different gospel. This is not congruous with the character of what God has said.

A naysayer’s view must endorse a very non-sensical sequence of events. ALL “Church Age” Christians must go into the Tribulation, so that ALL will be slain, so that they ALL can be given a resurrected physical body (first resurrection), so ALL will come back to life in the Millennium. 

This sequence of events seems unnecessarily cruel … and inefficient. Could these be the actions of our Lord? It seems not. The Rapture is therefore compelling. He says: “My reward is with me” (Revelation 22:12). What about the saints that have died before the Tribulation period? The Rapture naysayer must take the position that these saints of the Church Age need to wait another thousand years for the Second Resurrection, as they will not be eligible for the First Resurrection, nor will be able to celebrate the Lamb’s Supper.

Scripture doesn’t support these confused perspectives. Rather, it expressly says that “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16b). To be sure, the “dead in Christ” will rise first, and those who are living thereafter. A Pre-Tribulational Rapture is the clearest, most sensible and most Scriptural view.

More Arguments from the Dead
Our understanding—that ALL Tribulational Christians will be martyred—is such a critical factor in the Rapture debate that we want to further prove the veracity of this position. There are other additional proofs and deductions from the Bible for this case. We next present five of these arguments. 

1. The Meaning of “All.” The Second Beast shown in Revelation 13 only offers two options—a binary choice … one or the other. Worship the image of the First Beast or die. No other option is given. There is no allowance for exceptions. “All who refused to worship the image [are] to be killed” (Revelation 13:15; again, see Revelation 20:4). All means all … not some. The Bible also says this about these Tribulation saints: “They triumphed over him [the Dragon] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11).

What happens to those that do worship the image? Could they change their minds at some later date? Revelation 14:9-11 is clear: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 

Once having made the election to worship the image of the Beast and to take the mark, there is no recourse nor recanting. To believe otherwise would be inconsistent with the character of God. Once He unleashes His wrath, it is too late to repent. After all, His wrath only comes after repeated entreaties and warnings. Then comes the point of no return … of no further grace. His patience is not endless. 

As the case may be, just before the curtain goes down at the time of the sixth seal being removed, multiple worldwide evangelistic efforts are initiated. The 144,000 servants are sealed and an “[…] angel flying in midair […] had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people” (Revelation 14:6).

Stark as our determination may be, we must conclude that ALL who refuse to worship the image will die. This is in line with the pronouncement of Daniel that the “holy ones” will be destroyed—not just one or more, but all of them. Said again: It is a binary outcome … one or the other.

2. No Survival Outside the “Buy-Sell” System. Despite the clear message of Revelation 13, some still imagine that Christians could survive the Tribulation period. If only they would buy the right survival goods and pursue cunning evasive strategies, they would stand a chance, they reason. However, they ignore this perspective: Outside the “buy-sell system” in that future tribulational world, it will not be possible to live without the “mark.” If one is not able to “buy or sell” at a time of a pervasive global economic crisis and a closed worldwide financial system, one cannot obtain food or shelter. With no transactional access to the financial system, a Christian will die of starvation if not first persecuted and martyred. 

A recognition of the limits of a closed financial system should lay to rest any notion that all who refuse to worship the image will not be martyred.

3. A Deduced Absence. At the fifth trumpet blow (first Woe, Revelation 9:1-6: this event occurring perhaps midway into the second half of the Tribulation), “[…] out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth […] They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes.” 

Only those that did not have the seal of God were allowed to be tormented. The only group that has a seal placed upon them at this point are the 144,000 servants. As such, were Christians still on earth at the time of this judgment, they must expressly be allowed by God to be tortured. 

Any Christians on earth during this Woe would be selected to face God’s wrath. Shown here is that God can and does exclude one group to be protected from His wrath (namely, the 144,000). Then, why would He choose not to do so with His children? “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for […] an egg, will give him a scorpion?” (Luke 11:11-12).

Thus, we can draw one of two conclusions. That there are no Christians on earth at the time of the first Woe; or, if yes, then God must expressly choose to torment them. Only the former perspective aligns with the character of God and Scripture.

4. Can Christians Curse God? At the call of the sixth trumpet, says the Bible, one third of the world’s population is wiped out; two-thirds remain, who then ALL curse God. Says Revelation 9:20-21: “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols […] Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” 

Could Christians be counted in this number of survivors? Not if ALL of the survivors are said to “curse God,” “refuse to repent,” and keep “worshiping demons and idols.” True Christians would not do this. Clearly, then, there can be no Christian survivors at this point upon earth. (We maintain that they have been martyred already some time before.) After all, salvation is impossible without repentance. Conclusion? Either no Christians are upon earth at the time of this Woe, or God expressly made sure that when one-third of the earth’s population dies, ALL Christians would die at this time. 

But, again, it would be absurd to believe that God in His wrath would wipe out ALL remaining Christians at the juncture of the sixth seal, favoring instead other godless earthdwellers. We can reasonably deduce that no Christians exist upon earth at the time of the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments.

5. Appearances of Christians Throughout the Tribulation. Following the sixth seal (that being the time point that we are shown the great multitude of martyred Christians in front of the heavenly altar), the topics of “holy ones,” “saints,” “servants,” “Christians,” or “multitudes” are never mentioned again in the Tribulation timeline. Only once the Millennium begins, do we again encounter “servants” and the “holy.”

Crucially, no mention or picture is made of any more Christians having arrived in front of the heavenly altar during the Tribulation period, for any other reason than of being slain by anti-Christian forces. Any reference to “souls” that did not “worship the image” refers back to its occurrence which, in our view, is at a time near to the sixth seal. As such, this would be consistent with the view that all Christians will be martyred in the Tribulation period—in the first half.

We believe the above arguments (as well as others) conclusively prove that no Christians will survive the Tribulation period … all becoming martyrs (most likely by its mid-point). Daniel 7:25 says that “The ‘holy ones’ will be delivered into his [Antichrist’s] hands for a time, times and half a time” (see also Daniel 12:7). We see this three-and-a-half-year period coinciding with the first half of the Tribulation.

Thoughts to Ponder: Great Rewards to All Saints 
Glorious is the fact that raptured Christians who are on earth are spared the First and Second Death. They are also spared “the hour of trial” (Revelation 3:10) and will be in heaven with the Lord while the Tribulation takes place upon earth. A room has been prepared for us (John 14:2-3), and  the door is shut for a brief time. “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by” (Isaiah 26:20).

Raptured saints “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) in their translated, resurrected, incorruptible bodies. Whether on earth or in heaven, wherever Jesus is, that is where the raptured Christians will be. They “will be with the Lord forever.”

Surely, the Tribulation is a terrible period … as none ever before in mankind’s history. Nevertheless, there is good news to celebrate: For ALL Christians (whatever their sojourn), there will be no Second Death. All will be given eternal life.

Wonderfully, after the Tribulation, the Lord “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view, as we have shown, is the most consistent with Scripture. There is no incentive for Christians to survive the Tribulation. In any case, since all will be killed in the first half, all are then resurrected at the start of the Millennium. Why prolong physical suffering, if one can look forward to the First Resurrection after the Tribulation?

Therefore, whether among the raptured or those saved during the Tribulation, there are no physical preparations to be made … nothing to buy … or escape. There is no need to pay for survival supplies, nor to build an underground bunker.

For now, given that the Rapture still lies ahead, may we remain part of the generation that “continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28). 

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12). 

Maranatha!

Midnight Call - 10/2020

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