The Sixth Seal
My name is Tom Black. I was a 20 year believer of the commonly taught end-times theory called the pre-tribulation rapture. Now after careful consideration of the evidence, I’ve accepted the plain teaching of the bible which is the post-tribulation, pre-wrath return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Independent Fundamental Baptists lack tremendously in the area of Bible prophecy and their understanding of the book of Revelation, so I consider this work to be important. However, we Baptists are generally immovable in our doctrine, so I understand the challenge that is ahead.
This study is not about me. However, before we examine any evidence, I think it’s important to understand the process I went through that led to my decision to publish this content. I’ve carefully searched out the scriptures and prayerfully considered the material to follow, so if you read something that you disagree with, please hear the matter out before making a judgment. As a child of the King, I hate deception and the father of lies and I intend to share only accurate information. So I ask you for a measure of mercy and grace as I share personal thoughts and some of the challenges I faced during that process.
I was reached for Christ by an Independent Fundamental Baptist preacher in 1992. I was trained at Hyles-Anderson College from 1993 to 96 and I’ve served in Fundamental Baptist Churches ever since. I’m grateful for soulwinners and churches that emphasize evangelism that are reaching people like myself. I am now a preacher, an avid student of the King James Bible, and I’m in alignment with all of the core Fundamental Baptist doctrines with the exceptions of the pre-tribulation rapture and the correlating role that modern Judaism plays in the end times. During the study to follow, you’ll be presented with the biblical evidence that has led me to this conclusion. So at the least, you’ll understand why the pre-wrath crowd is so adamant that pretribbers have their head in the sand. So, if you’re a still a pretribber at the conclusion of this study, you’ll be a stronger pretribber than ever because you’ll finally learn all the details of the position including the contradictions have never been answered by even the most articulate pretribbers.
So, for 20 years I was taught and believed in an imminent return of Jesus Christ. Imminence means suddenly, at any moment, and without any requirements such as the need to fulfill any prophecy beforehand. I thought the church would be “caught up” (raptured), then those left behind would be scrambling to understand what happened, then the antichrist would arise, a 7 year tribulation would ensue, then Jesus would come back with his saints on white horses to destroy the antichrist ushering in the millennium. There are variances to the pretrib view, but that is basically what I was taught and how I perceived the teaching.
Then in 2011, I read the book of Revelation to my family during our devotions. As I read from a pretrib perspective I couldn’t place what I was reading into an order that made sense, so I felt I needed to learn more. Now Baptists for the most part just don’t teach Revelation. In fact in since I’ve been saved, I’ve never heard a single sermon dedicated to Revelation in any Baptist church I’ve been in. So I searched online for KJV oriented teaching on Revelation and there wasn’t much out there that I considered to be “Fundamental Baptist” type of teaching. For instance, most of the content I found quoted from modern bible translations or was authored by doctrinally different neo-evangelicals. I reexamined John R. Rice’s Revelation commentary but it just reinforced what I already knew and did not address any of the questions that I had.
Then in 2013, I heard an interview with a Baptist preacher named Kend Hovind who’s been very influential in my life. He said he’d abandoned the pretrib view after 40 years. I was like wow, I’d never heard of anyone doing that before. He said he had always trusted the “experts” and had never looked into the matter himself. He was describing myself. So I started reading more earnestly about the rapture and questions arose that demanded answers. This led to me spending multiplied dozens of hours in the scriptures, studying, and praying for understanding. At first I was looking for evidence to support the pretrib view which really hindered me because I always placed scripture in the pretrib context. But the more I studied the more I found passages that just didn’t fit in the pretrib view.
During that time, I asked every ordained man of God I could specific questions about the rapture. I was surprised that not one could answer my sincere questions. Some became visually uncomfortable while others just dismissed the matter as not being important enough for their time. Preachers are usually very capable of quoting the verses necessary to support their doctrine, but this is not so with the pretrib doctrine. I was surprised to discover this anomaly among the many Fundamental Baptist doctrines. One man of God after another just recommended some book for me to track down (mostly non-Baptist authors) and none could quote any definitive scripture to defend the pre-tribulation part of the rapture doctrine. Hmm. I started to realize this theory was more complex than I thought. I also found it interesting that God’s men maintained a stubborn loyalty to the pretrib view even though they were not well studied on end-times prophecy.
So to shorten the story, it was a process for me to overcome the bias that I had, but I finally accepted the spoken words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:29-30
Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Allow me to summarize these three verses in simplicity:
- The tribulation is over
- The sun and moon are darkened (the 6th seal Rev. 6:12)
- The Lord Jesus Christ appears and comes in power in the clouds
- The elect are then gathered (rapture of the saints)
That is the rapture taking place chronologically after the tribulation. Take heed to listen to the words of our Saviour.
This passage is where it all started for me in my journey to overcome the popular end-time doctrine of our day. I just wanted to know what “coming” Jesus was talking about and who was being gathered. Ask ten Baptist preachers that question, and likely you’ll receive ten different answers. I would know.
Regarding Matthew 24, don’t let another man deceive you. This is not Armageddon. This is not a Jewish only passage and a special Jewish only rapture. Dear reader, take the time and continue to prayerfully examine the bible to prove out this matter.
Consider a few of the stumbling blocks that hindered me from overcoming this teaching sooner.
- There are verses that appear to support the pretrib view, otherwise nobody would believe it (We’ll be addressing every last one of them)
- Preachers parrot oft-repeated pretrib sayings in their sermons without teaching the bible behind them
- The mindset of the church that reached me for Christ was basically this: “Let’s get to work and reach the lost and let God worry about when he comes back.”
- The pretrib view is widely accepted and found in most doctrinal statements and church constitutions.
- How could so many respected men of God be wrong?
- There are books, videos, and other materials that go to great lengths to try and convince you the pretrib view is legitimate case-closed doctrine
These points have been troublesome to me and has fueled a desire to leave no stone unturned in my research into this subject. The authors defending this pretrib view will give account for their teachings. Their materials have proven to give uninformed believers a false confidence and an unteachable spirit when attempts are made engage them with sincere questions about the many conflicts in the pretrib theory.
So, I liken these pretrib “experts” to skilled but poorly trained musicians. As a music teacher, I’ve seen guitarists get very good at playing the wrong way. I’ve heard many of them complain that they’ve reached a plateau and haven’t grown for a long time. That’s a tough situation to be in because, 1) it’s hard to overcome ingrained bad habits, and 2) because they have some expertise, they’re not willing to take a step backwards and study the basics that will help them tremendously. Likewise, there are shrewd defenders of the pretrib theory, yet they have a flawed expertise. I’ve read their carefully crafted presentations and all of them collapse under scrutiny as any false doctrine will. Going back to the basics of comparing scripture with scripture, creating a biblically accurate timeline, and prayerful consideration is the only way I know to overcome a false doctrine such as the chronologically flawed pre-tribulation rapture.
Folks it’s time to find out what the bible says about these things and just not trust what we’ve been told. This theory was started by a preacher in the 1800s and then was popularized with the bogus notes in the Scofield bible. Then popular books continued to push it until it eventually became the predominant view in evangelical churches. During my study, I was fascinated to learn that early church authors such as Polycarp, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and others, all believed the church would face the antichrist.
Finally, I don’t want to portray my brethren as deceivers, they’re just on the receiving end of the deception, just like I was. But here is the problem. Once a pretribber is challenged with scripture that contradicts the view, bias and pride often prevent an edifying discussion. So again concerning this study, I admonish my brethren to seek God with prayer, search out the scriptures, and have a teachable spirit regarding this matter.