In Search Of The Origins Of The PreWrath Doctrine
Part 6: Shortening The Days Causes Rapture Problems
By Ed Tarkowski

The basic but significant difference between PreWrath and Postrrib is the shortening of the days of vengeance as stated in Scripture:

Mat 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Mat 24:22 And except those days should be SHORTENED, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be SHORTENED.

Mark 13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
Mark 13:20 And except that the Lord HAD SHORTENED those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he HATH SHORTENED the days.

It will be antichrist who persecutes and brings the greatest tribulation the Jews or mankind has ever experienced, but ultimately these are the days of GOD'S vengeance. It is not a strange thing for God to raise up nations to come against Israel to administer his displeasure and anger and vengeance:

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
Luke 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
Luke 21:22 FOR THESE BE THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Luke 21:23 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.
Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

VENGEANCE 1557. ekdikesis, ek-dik'-ay-sis; from G1556; vindication, retribution:--(a-, re-) venge (-ance), punishment.

1556. ekdikeo, ek-dik-eh'-o; from G1558; to vindicate, retaliate, punish:--a (re-) venge.

1558. ekdikos, ek'-dik-os; from G1537 and G1349; carrying justice out, i.e. a punisher:--a (re-) venger.

1537. ek, ek; or ex, ex; a prim. prep. denoting origin (the point whence motion or action proceeds), from, out (of place, time or cause; lit. or fig.; direct or remote):--after, among, X are, at betwixt (-yond), by (the means of), exceedingly, (+ abundantly above), for (-th), from (among, forth, up), + grudgingly, + heartily, X heavenly, X hereby, + very highly, in, . . . ly, (because, by reason) of, off (from), on, out among (from, of), over, since, X thenceforth, through, X unto, X vehemently, with (-out). Often used in composition, with the same general import; often of completion.

1349. dike, dee'-kay; prob. from G1166; right (as self-evident), i.e. justice (the principle, a decision, or its execution):--judgment, punish, vengeance.

1166. deiknuo, dike-noo'-o; a prol. form of an obs. prim. of the same mean.; to show (lit. or fig.):--shew.

Antichrist needs no vindication, but God does concerning man's rejection of Him, and these definitions show God is the originator of these days and that He has assigned a time for them to come about.

Van Kampen's And Rosenthal's PreWrath "Shortening" Of "Those Days"

These two originators of the Prewrath doctrine believe that:

  1. Daniel's 70th week is exactly seven years long.

  2. The second half of the week is the period called the Great Tribulation.

  3. It is not Daniel's 70th week that will be cut short (7 years), but the Great Tribulation, while the last half of Daniel's 70th week extends to the full seven years.

In his book, "The Sign," (p. 236) Robert Van Kampen says of this shortening of the days of God's vengeance:

"The great tribulation will last for an unknown period of time, but will doubtless last through a substantial part of the second half (three and a half years) of the seventieth week until God brings it to an abrupt end. At some point unknown to any man but only to the Father alone, God will mercifully 'cut short' Antichrist's great persecution BEFORE the completion of the seventieth week, for 'unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short' (Matt. 24:22)."

In "Prewrath Rapture of the Church," Marvin Rosenthal says concerning these verses:

"The shortening of the Great Tribulation to less than three and one-half years is one of the most important truths to be grasped if the chronology of end-time events is to be understood. It literally is the key that reveals the sequence to Matthew 24-25 and the chronology of the book of Revelation with the opening of the seals, trumpets, and bowls" (pp. 111-112).

Because in Prewrath the rapture is moved up six months to as much as a year and a half before the end of Daniel's 70th week, this necessitates that the Church be raptured to heaven. In commenting on the great multitude before the throne in Revelation 7:13-17, Van Kampen states:

"The magnificent splendor of the scene - especially in contrast to the great tribulation out of which the church will have just been raptured - is beautifully described in the verses that follow [v. 13 - he then quotes Rev 7:14b-17].

What is crucial to see before I go on are these words in verse 17:

"Rev 7:17 For the Lamb WHICH IS in the midst of the throne shall feed them, . ."

According to Van Kampen, the church has just been raptured to heaven and Revelation 7:17 shows that the Lamb is with them "in the midst of the throne." This means that He had to descend to gather the Church and then returned to heaven with them. In order to judge the nations, He must now return at the end of the 70th week with the Church for judgment. With that, let me continue my point.

This of course necessitates a second return of Christ, once to rapture the church and then a coming to bring judgment on the nations. This is the same basic scenario as Pretribulationism except in Pretribulationism, the "first" coming is at the beginning of the 70th week, where in Prewrath it is somewhere just past the midpoint of the last 3-1/2 years of Daniel's week. Of the rapture, Rosenthal states,

"This great multitude, innumerable, universal, and suddenly appearing in heaven with white robes (purified) and palm branches (triumphant) is the raptured church. This event occurs immediately prior to the opening of the seventh seal and the outpouring of the Day of the Lord wrath (Rev. 8:1): 'For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation [this is precisely what the multitude was proclaiming] by our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Thess. 5:9)" (Rosenthal, pp. 184-185 -- comment in brackets in original).

"The symmetry, balance, and timing of Revelation 7 should not be missed. With chapter 8, the Day of the Lord will begin. Therefore, in chapter 7 the church is raptured. But immediately prior to the Rapture of the church, the 144,000 Jews are sealed. It is almost like a baton being passed between runners. The 144,000 must be sealed for protection to go through the Day of the Lord before the church can be caught up to the throne in heaven. God will not leave Himself without a people on the earth" (p. 185).

"... Revelation 7 not only records the sealing of the 144,000 for protection before the Day of the Lord commences, but on its heels it describes a second group.... They are victors, and they are standing before the throne. This great multitude which is suddenly seen in Heaven is the raptured Church" (Rosenthal, "The Nature of Christ's Second Coming: Perception & Reality," March-April 1992 Zion's Fire, p. 6).

But this leaves one scratching one's head when reading pages 222-223 of Rosenthal's book where he refutes this thinking, most likely not realizing he is refuting himself and Van Kampen as well. On these pages, Rosenthal states of Christ's one single return,

". . . The meaning of the word COMING (PAROUSIA) demonstrates that fact. It means a coming and a continuing presence. That would be contradicted by the concept of a coming at the beginning of the seventieth week and another at its end, as pretribulationism has often taught. [This statement also refutes what himself and Van Kampen as well-Ed]

"The Lord's coming is consistently portrayed as a singular event. . . .

"In each and every instance, the word COMING (PAROUSIA) is either modified by the personal pronoun HIS or THY or, most frequently, with the defined article THE. And in every case, His return is in the singular; not COMINGS but COMING. There is not even a hint - anywhere - of two separate comings. That is simple, unadorned, biblical fact. The often-heard suggestion that Christ will come first FOR His church and then return to the earth a second time seven years later WITH His Church is an assumption with no biblical evidence to substantiate it. The argument that verses which speak of His coming sometimes refer to the Rapture and other times to Christ's return in glory, and therefore, that there must be two comings, is without basis. This argument totally ignores the fact that Christ's coming (PAROUSIA) includes both his coming and consequent presence to accomplish His purpose."

In this, Rosenthal is correct, and it is hard to understand how he can say that while believing the Church is raptured to heaven, which means Christ must return yet again to judge the nations. It is possible he means the Church is raptured to heaven while Christ remains here to do what He came to do, but as stated in other files in the section, there are grave problems with that idea as well. But for now, regarding his and Van Kampen's PreWrath beliefs, Rosenthal's paragraphs could have been written and applicable to those as well, such as this:

". . . The meaning of the word COMING (PAROUSIA) demonstrates that fact. It means a coming and a continuing presence. That would be contradicted by the concept of a coming at the midpoint, 6 months to a year and a half before then end of the seventieth week and another at its end, as Prewrathers have often taught.

"The Lord's coming is consistently portrayed as a singular event. . . .

"In each and every instance, the word COMING (PAROUSIA) is either modified by the personal pronoun HIS or THY or, most frequently, with the defined article THE. And in every case, His return is in the singular; not COMINGS but COMING. There is not even a hint - anywhere - of two separate comings. That is simple, unadorned, biblical fact. The often-heard suggestion that Christ will come first FOR His church and then return to the earth a second time six months to a year and a half later WITH His Church is an assumption with no biblical evidence to substantiate it. The argument that verses which speak of His coming sometimes refer to the Rapture and other times to Christ's return in glory, and therefore, that there must be two comings, is without basis. This argument totally ignores the fact that Christ's coming (PAROUSIA) includes both his coming and consequent presence to accomplish His purpose."

Yet, Van Kampen clearly states in his book, "The Sign,"

"In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus clearly described those two separate, glorious events. First, 'Just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even tot he west . . . then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory' (Matt. 24:27, 30, emphasis added in the original). This glorious coming of Christ 'from the east' will occur at the beginning of the day of the Lord [meaning, 6 months to 1-1/2 years before the end of the week-Ed]. Second, 'When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne' (Matt. 25:31, emphasis added in the original). This glorious coming of Christ will occur on the first day of the Millennium" (p. 273).

Reasonable Explanations For Those Days Being Shortened

The shortening of the days in Matthew 24:22 and Mark 13:20 as defined by the originators of the PreWrath doctrine is the very foundation of this doctrine and what separates it from Posttribulationism. The whole premise, when looked at logically, is ludicrous to begin with because the plan of God for the end is already laid out in Scripture and THAT PLAN PROMISES A REMNANT TO COME FORTH FROM ISRAEL AND A RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH FOR ITS SURVIVAL. According to this plan, there is no danger that all flesh will be destroyed. Why? Because the shortened days HAVE ALREADY BEEN FIGURED INTO IT. There are no mysterious hidden days set aside for shortening the time that will explain the survival of at least some humanity. It has already been done and incorporated in God's plan, most likely through dropping the seven thunders from the plan (Rev. 10:4) and the intervention into the time of global destruction by the return of Jesus Christ to judge the nations and cleanse the earth:

Mark 13:20 And except that the Lord HAD SHORTENED those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he HATH SHORTENED the days.

The shortening of these days has already taken place in prophesy and that is why we can count on the plan of God as laid out in Scripture. Daniel spoke of 1260 days in the Old Testament, Revelation speaks of 1260 days in the New Testament, but a second witness of Scripture besides Matthew 24:22/Mark 13:20 (which is the same verse in context, describing the same event) cannot be found in Scripture to support the Prewrath doctrine. In Posttribulationism that witness is found in the second coming of Christ and the seven thunders.

One explanation for the Great Tribulation being "cut short" is given by Dan Dudley:

#Matt 24.22

Checking the Greek:

2856 koloboo {kol-ob-o'-o}

from a derivative of the base of 2849; TDNT - 3:823,452; v

AV - shorten 4; 4

1) to mutilate

2) in NT: to shorten, abridge, curtail

The first definition is to mutilate (ie to cut off). So if those days had been allowed to go on indefinitely no flesh would survive but they will be cut off, not permitted to go on indefinitely. But they will go on as long as God had said they would.

I would further Dudley's thinking by adding the following. Let's give Strong's definition for "shortened" before we proceed:

SHORTENED 2856. koloboo, kol-ob-o'-o; from a der. of the base of G2849; to dock, i.e. (fig.) abridge:--shorten.

2849. kolazo, kol-ad'-zo; from kolos (dwarf); prop. to curtail, i.e. (fig.) to chastise (or reserve for infliction):--punish.

Here the word "shortened" in Matthew and Luke regarding "those days" are seen as days of God's vengeance. So it is God's vengeance or punishment of the world and Israel we are dealing with, and the days of His vengeance is "shortened," meaning to "cut off," i.e. cut off some of the days of His vengeance. I don't believe this is speaking so much of DAYS of vengeance being shortened, but the VENGEANCE WITHIN those days being shortened, or, "cut off." In other words, to me it makes more sense that some of the vengeance within these days is cut off, rather than the actual duration of a day in time. But where do we find God cutting off some of His vengeance of those days. In Revelation 10:2-7:

Rev 10:2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
Rev 10:3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
Rev 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

The seven thunders were never written down, and no one knows what they were and they are not listed as occurring within the Book of Revelation. It is natural to assume these thunders were further plagues and not blessings, considering the theme of Revelation complete with its seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. The very next verse in Revelation 10 then summarizes what will happen until the mystery of God is complete, as though the seven thunders were going to be taken in account, but then weren't as the summary of this mystery is foretold in the sounding of the seventh trumpet:

Rev 10:5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
Rev 10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
Rev 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

This scene is complimentary to the scene in Daniel 12:

Dan 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

Notice the words "when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." These seven thunders are mentioned at the place where Daniel mentioned the scattering of the power of the holy people. Therefore, they may have had to do with the final scattering of the power of the holy people just before the seventh trumpet, but these thunders were "cut off" and thus the days OF VENGEANCE (or better yet, the vengeance of those days) will be shortened, lest "there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Thus, the phrase "that there should be time no longer" takes on new meaning, indicating that the time of God's punishment of Israel should not go on any longer. This would fit well with the dropping, so to speak, of the seven thunders.

Tim Warner (now moved to http://www.answersinrevelation.org/) sums all of this up rather well I thought:

"To me it is quite simple. Jesus is simply saying that if the days were allowed to go much beyond the half-week, that there would be no survivors. Consequently, the "great tribulation" has been limited to 3.5 years. Nothing mysterious here."

The word "limited" here is the outcome of the days being shortened by putting away of the seven thunders and Christ's return to rapture the Church, gather the remnant of Israel and judge the nations as He establishes His millennial reign.

I have been wanting to express some mild protest against the length of time between rapture in prewrath and the end of Daniel's 70th week. What happens to the church during this time if it is raptured and where are they with Christ for 6 months to a year and a half? No one has yet been able to answer that satisfactorily to me, and so I have written my mild, little protest. It is on this very point that I have my main problem with the PreWrath view, and I believe it is very crucial one.