I was recently asked by another Pre-Tribulation believer about Tribulation saints. She said that since we will be taken out of the world, the Holy Spirit in us is therefore also removed from the world (2 Thessalonians 2:7), and that therefore, nobody would repent during the Tribulation period.
The first part of what she said is absolutely true, and I believe that’s why (and when) God said:
Afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days, (Joel 2:28-29).
When Peter quoted this in Acts 2, he understood that the context was the Last Days. And I don’t think he was wrong. Bible time is not like we have been taught. We tend to think of time as something linear: first one event happened, then another event happened, then a third event happened, and so forth.
But Bible time is cyclical, like the seasons: first one thing happened, then in due season something very similar happened, then in due season something very similar happened again. And the Bible even hints at this:
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun, (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Another thing about that prophecy in Joel is that God calls them My servants. These are people who missed the Rapture because they were not serving God. Yet God calls them My servants. That’s because God calls things that are not into being (Romans 4:17).
So here’s how I believe this is going to play out: just like in the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25), some of us will be ready for the Rapture, while other Christians will be busy and distracted, maybe even busy with ministry, but they’re not watching and waiting for Jesus to come Rapture them away. There are some Christians who I believe really love and follow Jesus, but who don’t believe in the imminence of the Rapture. All of these will believe it when it happens and they will know that they have been left behind.
At that time, they will really set aside every weight (Hebrews 12:1) that had prevented them from going in the Rapture (busy-ness, unbelief, distractions, etc.). They will become the super evangelists of the Tribulation period. They will also be beheaded for their faith because now they know that everything the Bible speaks of is absolutely true. They no longer have anything to lose, so they will willingly lose their heads for Jesus.
And God will assist their evangelical efforts by pouring out His Spirit again (as in Joel, above). Because He wants to see as many saved as possible. God doesn’t make mistakes, but if He did, God would always err on the side of mercy and grace. He doesn’t want to see anyone go to hell. By the same token, God is not going to force anyone into Heaven, either. If someone goes to hell, it is because they chose it.
Now to the Harvest cycle illustration: in the Hebrew tradition there are three stages to the harvest:
- First Fruits – in which the part of the field that ripens first is inspected by a priest and marked with a red cord. It is then harvested and brought to the Temple to be offered as a wave offering to God. First Fruits foreshadows the Rapture of the Bride.
- The Harvest – in which the whole field is harvested except for the corners (Leviticus 23:22). The Harvest foreshadows the big End Times Harvest of Tribulation Saints that have been martyred (Revelation 20:4). And this occurs at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming. Jesus appears at the Rapture, but His feet will touch the earth at His Second Coming (Zechariah 14:4).
- The Four Corners – which are left for the poor to harvest and take home. This was beautifully demonstrated in the book of Ruth. The Four Corners foreshadows the final harvest of Hebrew believers in Messiah from all over the world (Romans 11:25-26). This will happen after the very last gentile believer has come to Christ.
Just as there were three phases to the harvest, there were also three main crops harvested:
- Barley – which was first to ripen. Barley was winnowed by taking a winnowing fork and tossing the barley into the air in the evening wind. The wind separated the chaff from the soft barley, blowing the chaff away. This, again is a foreshadowing of the Rapture of the Bride.
- Wheat – which was next to ripen. Wheat was crushed by running over it with a threshing sledge (called a tribulum!). This also foreshadows the Tribulation Saints’ martyrdom.
- Grapes – which was the last to ripen. Grapes were pressed or trodden. This also foreshadows the final harvest of the Hebrew people.
Given a choice (and we are!), I choose to go in the Rapture and spend the Tribulation with Jesus. How about you? Don’t wait! Even though I wrote the Feast of Trumpets is the most likely time for the Rapture, God is not restricted. He can do anything He chooses. If we’re ready now, then we won’t be caught by surprise. God is good!