Dispensationalism is an important doctrine because we divide groups of verses into the right groups of people and time periods. If we don’t do that, we’ll end up combining everything and end up with heresy. Here’s a common one: people who believe that Christians will go through the tribulation believe that they will not escape God’s wrath until they first go through the tribulation.
Here’s the problem. Non-dispensationalists are very single-minded, whereas dispensationalists divide so that they can see. People who believe in the pre-wrath rapture believe that God’s wrath will come down sometime in the middle or at the end of the tribulation. When God pours out His wrath, that’s when they believe they get raptured up. So in this rapture, it’s going to happen before the wrath. This is true! Let’s look at this closely.
We see wrath as the second advent. Look at,
Revelation 6:14: “And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
So the post-tribulation people will claim that this is the post-tribulation rapture. However, this happens right before the wrath. Verse 17 says, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” There is wrath which is called the day of wrath. This isn’t the years of tribulation, it is a single day when the Lord will pour the wrath out.
Our proof text for Christians not going through the tribulation is
1 Thessalonians 5:9: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now verse 10 is the rapture. It says, “Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” Whether we’re dead or alive, we will live together with him! Through this, we claim that the church must be raptured before the tribulation and before God’s wrath is poured out. Many people miss this for lack of knowledge.
Now let’s go to Revelation 16. First, we must understand that wrath is not just the second advent. It is also the vials.
Revelation 16:1: “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.”
The rest of the chapter goes through all of the vials of wrath. Then you’ll see in verse 19, “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” So then, wrath is not one thing but rather many different things.
Some post-tribulation rapture people will then argue that this doesn’t change the fact that the wrath occurs after the tribulation. Yet what makes much more sense is that the whole of the tribulation time period is wrath, made up of many different wraths.
If we look at Luke 21:25, notice that this is the same thing as Revelation 6:
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;”
Remember that in Revelation 6, it says that after this event, the great day of His wrath has come. Yet it is also wrath before that. Look at Luke 21:22 which says, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Notice that the word ‘days’ is plural. This is talking about multiple days! Then verse 23 says, “But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.” These are the days of wrath.
Some people will then make the statement that this is Satan’s wrath, not God’s wrath. This is a desperate notion!
Revelation 6:1-2: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”
Does that not look like wrath to you?
Still, God continues His judgment in verse 5.
“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
Here we see famine as well. If you still don’t think that’s wrath, look at verse 8 which says, “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” What is that if not wrath?
See this isn’t Satan pouring out judgment or wrath, it’s God! Now look at the sixth seal once more:
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
Jump to verse 17: “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
This wrath is after all these things that God has poured out as judgment on the earth. Now go to
John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Wrath is not only referring to the vials or the tribulation but also hell!
All this is to say that wrath has multiple meanings throughout the Bible. It is not only one day that happens, but wrath means many different things that the Lord has poured out. It even includes the judgment that God poured out on Israel in the B.C. era. Wrath goes all over in the Bible. It is not simply one thing.