By Dr. Donald Whitchard
Last weekend (March 28-31) I had the privilege of attending a conference entitled “Hear the Watchmen”, which consisted of three days of prophetic teaching, interpretation of the signs of the times, the problem of sleeping churches, and the need to be faithful in these trying times. The speakers were interesting and informative and there was a lot of prayer for salvations and healings, along with prayers for deliverance from demonic oppression and involvement in the occult. The end result was a time of spiritual renewal and encouragement and I plan to go back next year if the LORD tarries. As I listened to each speaker in terms of end time proclamation, I was confronted with the belief that not all of the speakers were pre-tribulation rapture believers. Now, that is not a salvation issue. We can disagree on how events will play out, with the common belief that Jesus Christ is coming back again to rule and reign for eternity. However, the presentations left me with the impression that the issue of the rapture is not as strong as it needs to be, especially with the events prophesied in Scripture coming into play in this day and age. Everybody tended to agree that we are in the last days, but some speakers taught that the church will go through the time known as the Great Tribulation, with the rapture at the end of the judgments of God. I can’t buy that, and I’ll tell you why.
The idea of a post-tribulation rapture really makes no sense if you think about the situation. Why would the Lord Jesus want to see His bride abused by the evil forces of the world any longer? What would be the purpose? If we have to go through that time of hell on earth, then why have a rapture at all? Let Jesus come down and do His work of transformation on this earth. I like the analysis given by the well-known expositor John MacArthur, who teaches in a sermon that if we were to go through the Tribulation, then the LORD would have given us directions in Scripture on how to survive it. In reading the book of Revelation, we see the church mentioned in Chapters 1-3, but after Chapter 4, the church is nowhere to be found until you get to Chapter 19 when Jesus comes back with His bride to begin the 1,000 year millennial reign that will lead into the new heavens and the new earth.
The argument that is given by post-tribulationists is that the church needs to go through a time of “purification” before she is ready to be received by Christ. Does this mean that we have to do certain works of spiritual cleanings before we are ready to meet the LORD in the air at the conclusion of the terror that will be the Tribulation? What they are suggesting by that teaching is that we have to work for our righteousness to be acceptable to the LORD. That’s nothing but the heresy known as works salvation, which is the foundation of Catholicism and other man-made religions. According to the Scriptures, we are made righteous through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves right before God except to repent and place our faith totally in Jesus for His work on Calvary, trusting that His sinless body was the perfect sacrifice to appease God the Father, who will not allow sin to come into His presence.
Man-made religions say that we have to do certain things or go through rituals to gain favor with God. The hard fact is that there is no way we can ever save ourselves. If that were the case, then Christ died for nothing. The truths of Ephesians 2:8-9 would be invalid. After studying the Scriptures for most of my life, I would argue that the position of believing in a pre-tribulation rapture makes the most sense. 1 Thessalonians was written by the Apostle Paul to reassure his church in Thessalonica that they had not missed Christ’s return and that their loved ones would be resurrected on the day that Christ comes for His bride. Every Christian, both living and dead, will be transformed instantaneously and go to be with the LORD forever (4:13-18). Even Jesus promised to come back and get us according to John 14:1-3. 1 Corinthians 15 contains the truth of the Resurrection and the day of the LORD where we will go to be with Him at the proper time. In all my years of study, my views on eschatology have never wavered. I believe that one day the clouds will part and we who are alive in Christ, along with the righteous dead, will meet the LORD in the air and be with Him for all eternity. We shall be judged by Jesus for what we have done for Him, attend the marriage supper of the Lamb, and then return with Him seven years later to rid the world of its evil, throw the Antichrist and False Prophet into hell, bind the devil and cast him into a bottomless pit, and then have 1000 years of peace, righteousness, and prosperity. The ones who became believers during the Tribulation will go into the millennial kingdom in their earthly bodies and begin to repopulate the world.
At the end of the millennium, the devil will be released for a short time and lead all the unbelieving inhabitants of the new world in one last rebellion against the LORD, which will be over as soon as it begins, with all of the unrighteous standing before the Lord Jesus at the Great White Throne Judgment, sentenced to an eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). I’ve said all of this to respectfully disagree with those speakers who taught a different eschatology. All I’m saying to my post-tribulationist friends is that if you feel you need to stay here and face the wrath and judgment of God, face the brutality of the Antichrist, and try to survive the horrors of that time, then be my guest. However, when we go up together one of these days. I believe our differences will be settled at that time. Still, it was an interesting time at the conference.
A portion of the time was spent on something that is rarely mentioned in the churches and that is the rise of Satanism and witchcraft in the nation, with many children going missing and ending up in the sex trafficking trade and being ritually abused by satanic covens and gangs of pedophiles within and without the churches and communities. All you have to do is look at the reports of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over the years and the attempt to cover it up in order to make the bishop or cardinal look good. The pope has said very little about it to his shame. The Protestant churches have had their fill of sexual trauma done by pastors, youth workers, nursery workers, and church volunteers. This horrific crime is usually covered up by authorities within the denomination. The whole thing is a plague used by Satan to discredit the effectiveness of the church and ruin testimonies and reputations. There are Satanists infiltrating the churches, secretly bringing in maliciousness and disorder and speaking curses upon the people, releasing demons to attack the unprepared and spiritually immature. We need to be alert and spiritually aware.
Another topic that was brought up by a speaker was the role of America in biblical prophecy. He theorized that since we have been Israel’s friend for all of these years, we will be its protector during the Tribulation, citing Revelation 12 and the passage that the Israelites will be carried by divine wings to a place of safety, citing that these wings are the symbol of the American eagle who will fly the Jews to a secure place in the states. All I can say about that is this is an example of poor exegesis and interpretation. I declare that America is NOWHERE in Scripture and if the belief that the pre-tribulation rapture is the correct interpretation, as soon as we’re gone, these United States will be soon under the control of globalists and socialists who hate Israel and will gladly join the Antichrist in a one-world government that will persecute both Jews and tribulation saints during the time of terror that will be upon this world. The proper interpretation of Revelation 12 that John is talking about are the wings of God’s protection over His chosen people and that it is He who will place them in a hiding place of safety. We are a nation that God has blessed in the past, but with the rate of wickedness in this country accelerating with the talk of infanticide, socialism, hatred of the Jews, abortion, crime, sexual perversion, perverted behavior, drag queens being allowed to read to children in public libraries, indifference to the condition of souls, apathy, anarchy, cruelty, and a host of other evils, we are not in the best shape to do anything noble save a direct intervention from God Himself. What this prophecy teacher failed to realize is that the wickedness of man knows no bounds and if left to himself, he will rebel against the LORD every chance he gets. If I took anything away from this session, it is that there is no such thing as the goodness of man, especially when it comes to the end times. His teaching was a case of wishful thinking.
Aside from that encounter, the conference was encouraging and a great place to fellowship with other believers despite differences in interpretation of the times. The main point that I took away is that there is a remnant watching for that day when the Lord Jesus comes back and makes all things new. I was also brought to the conclusion that the church overall is asleep on watch and that many people will be in for a rude awakening. I have come to believe that prophecy is the key tool in these days to keep us excited about the reality of the Second Coming and to encourage us to keep praying for the lost and be a good witness. There isn’t much time left and I can almost hear the trumpet sounding. Even so, come Lord Jesus. To be able to see you is a lot more exciting than waiting for another prophecy conference. I want to conclude by saying that people prayed for me concerning my kidneys and other health issues. I appreciate the prayers of all of you who have been following me over these past few months. My love and appreciation for you will be a point of discussion and praise when we see Him face to face and can always be in His presence, giving Him the praise and glory He so richly deserves. Until the next entry, keep watch and look with eagerness to His arrival. And all the people said, “Amen”
Don was born and raised in the true Cajun Country of Louisiana. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Louisiana College, a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Theology from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia. Don has served as a pastor, interim pastor, high school teacher, and hospital chaplain over the past thirty years. He currently serves as a volunteer chaplain (2008-present) with St. Francis Hospital and also served as the pastor/teacher from 2013-2016 at the Gospel Rescue Mission, both of which are here in Muskogee. He was called to Meadowbrook in February 0f 2017 and began his ministry in March of that year. He has also served as President of the Muskogee Baptist Association’s Pastors Conference, which is a weekly meeting that presents speakers and ministry ideas and concepts to church leaders in the greater Muskogee area.
Don’s top priority is to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is shared with our lost and hurting world and that the people of God are taught sound doctrine and preparation for our Lord’s soon return.