Tribulation or Wrath?


Olive Tree

Many are confused about the difference between tribulation and wrath. Many westerners have been taught that there is a future rapture of the church and then a tribulation against the Jews will take place. They have been taught that if they are Christians, then they will be raptured before tribulation occurs avoiding any difficulties that the end times might bring on the world. This is decidedly false and can be easily proven false by a reading of the relevant Scriptures on this subject.


Dispensationalism has many foolish ideas. Some are quite ludicrous. Dispensationalism is a false doctrine. It is so because it teaches two different avenues for salvation; one for the Jews and one for the church. These are forever separate in their view. In fact their main doctrine, that the sine qua non (literally ‘without which, not,’ but it figuratively means ‘that which is essential’) of their doctrine is that Israel and the church are forever separate. That is the essential core of Dispensationalism. Without that core, Dispensationalism falters. That is a false teaching, thus all teachers of dispensationalism are false teachers. It comes from the Scofield notes in Scofield Bibles.

They may not realize they are false teachers because they probably were taught that Dispensationalism is truth but did not bother to read the Scriptures to see if it was truth or not. I personally was taught Dispensationalism. Even my seminary taught it. But my own personal studies taught me that Dispensationalism was a false doctrine. It does not square with the Scriptures, especially the pre-trib rapture doctrine and its teaching that there are two paths of salvation (Mat 7:14; Luk 13:23-30; John 14:6), which I will discuss in this treatise. The Scofield Bible has been signally responsible for the ubiquitous broadcasting of the false teachings of Dispensationalism.

The Scofield Bible is the main distributor of Dispensationalism. It has been bought and read by so many Evangelical Christians in the West, that it is pervasive in Christian circles. I have a copy of the KJV Scofield Bible but I do not use it. I only have it for reference. Many have elevated Scofield’s notes nearly to the level of inspired Scripture; perhaps some even accept them as Scripture. They are not; they are the works of one man that had a skewed understanding of the Scriptures.

One of Dispensationalism’s major blunders is the pre-trib rapture of the church. They teach that the church will be raptured then the Antichrist will come and unleash unholy hell on Israel for seven years while the church is at the marriage supper of the lamb. Sorry, but that does not match up with the scriptures. It is escapism and many are being led astray by that teaching and they will not be ready for the tribulation (Greek θλιπσις, thlipsis) that will come before Christ returns. Please note that Revelation does not mention any seven year period. It does, however, use 3.5 years in several places. Daniel 9:27 talks about a seven year period cut in half to 3.5 years. Jesus said that those days would be shortened for the sake of the elect (Mat 24:22). Paul tells us that the elect are Christians in Col 3:12; Peter does so in 1 Pet 1:2 and 2:6.

Tribulation vs. Wrath

Because of that false doctrine, many who were shaky in their faith will turn away from that little faith they may have had when facing harsh persecution. I am not saying that those who are saved will turn away from the faith, for true Christians will not fall away, but those whose faith is like that in the parable of the sower (Mat 13:1–23; Mark 4:1–20; Luk 8:4-15). The seed that fell on stony ground represents those who receive the message with joy when tribulation or persecution occurs and they immediately turn away from Christianity. They were never really saved in the first place.

Westerners are insulated from tribulation, like that which is going on right now in African countries that are being overrun by Muslims who kill Christian men, women, and children, usually with torture ending in beheading. They make slaves out those they don’t kill. Women and girls are made into sex slaves. Men are killed outright. Those people understand tribulation. The real Christians do not turn away from their faith, but endure the tribulation with God’s help. Because of Dispensationalism, most Westerners don’t understand that Christians do and will suffer tribulation.

If you want to know what the tribulation will look like, simply look at what Muslims are doing to Christians in the third world. Additionally, Chinese Christians understand tribulation only too well. They are constantly being persecuted by their government and they endure seemingly unending tribulation for Christ’s sake. Tribulation against Christians is going to continually worsen and will occur worldwide as we near the end of the age.

Jesus himself made clear that the gathering of His people, the elect, would occur AFTER the tribulation. These are His words:

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: 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. 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” Matthew 24:29-31.

 Before I go on lets get our terms ‘tribulation’ and ‘wrath’ straight. Tribulation in the Greek is θλιπσις (thlipsis); wrath is οργη (orge). They are two different words with two very different meanings in Scripture. Tribulation is what Satan will carry out against the church. Tribulation occurs before Christ returns, wrath occurs afterward. Satan persecutes the church, Rev 12:17, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. ” The Dragon is Satan, and those who “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” are born again believers, that is, Christians. God will never pour His wrath upon His Own people, who are both Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ. Tribulation comes from the Devil, not from God.

Please realize that Christians include all nationalities including saved Jews. Additionally, Revelation 13:7 states, And it was given unto him [the dragon and his beast, Rev 12:4] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” The saints here are not unsaved Jews; they are Christians. They are those sanctified by the blood of Christ-both saved Jews and saved Gentiles.

Wrath is what God will carry out on the unsaved (Rev 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.” This occurs after the rapture. We know this from Rev 16:6, “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” The wrath of God is poured out on unbelievers because they shed the blood of saints prior to this wrath being poured out on them.

Let us leave wrath where it is-at the end of time after the church is raptured. Many misinterpret wrath for tribulation and get the two mixed up and this also gets people mixed up about when the rapture occurs. Wrath occurs after the church is raptured. Again, the church includes saved Jews and Gentiles; more on that later.

Tribulation occurs before Christ returns to gather His elect from the four winds, that is, from all the earth, Mat 25:29-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-28. Luke gives more information about the tribulation. He writes that there will be dismay among the nations and men will faint from fear and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Notice that in all three of these passages, Jesus returns AFTER the tribulation.

Compare them with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, which is the quintessential verse outlining the rapture of the church, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Note the similarities between the passages in Matthew, Mark, and Luke with the passage in First Thessalonians. Both tell of the trumpet of God, Jesus descending from heaven with a shout, that is, with the sound of the trumpet, and the saints meeting Jesus in the air. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are discussing the same event, which is the Rapture, as Paul is in his letter to the Thessalonians. That occurs after the tribulation.

In Thessalonians 2:1-4, Paul discusses the return of Christ and tells about rumors among the churches that Christ had already come. Paul specifically states that that day WILL NOT come until the Antichrist is revealed. 

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Now compare these two passages:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed

These two parallel passages are both discussing the same event—the rapture. The Lord will descend with a shout and with the trumpet of God, which the second passage tells us is the last trumpet. The last trumpet occurs after the tribulation at the time of the end of the age just before the wrath of God is poured out on unbelievers.

There are two types of trumpets, the shofar, which is the ram’s horn, and the silver trumpets. God had Moses make two silver trumpets (Num 10:2). The shofar or ram’s horn represents the salvation of Isaac when the ram was sacrificed in Isaac’s place (Gen 22:13).

In a nutshell, the shofar was blown when God descended on Mount Sinai (Ex 19:19). Apparently the shofar was blown by God or an angel, for no one in the congregation was blowing a trumpet at that time; it was so loud the people trembled in fear. The shofar is also blown by the priests to announce the presence of God. The silver trumpets were used to call the elders to assembly (one silver trumpet) or to call the entire congregation to assembly (two silver trumpets). The silver trumpet was also blown in the wilderness when it was time for the camp of the tribes to move to a new location. The shofar was blown when the walls of Jericho fell, which was caused by Yahweh.

The shofar is blown at the beginning or the Feast of Weeks or Harvest, or Pentecost; in that case it is known as the First Trump. After Pentecost, the next feast is Rosh Hashanah the Feast of Trumpets and the Jewish New Year. At the end of the feast the Shofar is blown once again and it is known as the Last Trump. That is the Last Trump Paul, being Jewish and a Pharisee schooled in the Law, most likely referred to.

Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri, and on the tenth of Tishri is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is ten days after the Last Trump is blown. The Feast of Trumpets begins a ten day time of prayer, self-examination, and repentance that culminates on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. Christ has fulfilled Yom Kippur.

According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah the destiny of the righteous are written in the Book of Life, and the destiny of the wicked are written in the Book of Death. That is the case at the rapture.

Basically Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets is the end of the old and the beginning of the new, which is what the rapture is. It is when our salvation draweth nigh.

When the trumpets were blown to begin the migration of the Camp of Israel in the wilderness, two trumpets were blown. When the first was blown the camps on the east side of the Tabernacle were to move forward. When the second trumpet is blown, the camps on the south side would move (Num 10:5-6).

An interesting observation: There is a graveyard on the east side of the Temple Mount in modern Israel today; and there are people living on the south side of the Temple Mount. On the east are the dead and to the south are the living. The first trumpet calls for those on the east (the dead) to move out and then the second or last trumpet calls for those on the south (the living). The dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the lord in the air. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Numbers 10:10, “Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.”

Israel and the Church

What is the church? It consists of all people saved by the Blood of Christ, including all sexes, all races, all ages, and both saved Jews and saved Gentiles.

What is Israel? It is the group of the descendants of Jacob the God chose as a people to Himself. He did not choose them because of anything they did, or because of their greatness because for the most part, they were poor shepherds. The sons of Jacob were no great people either. They sinned immensely as we know from their stories in Genesis. God chose them because He is sovereign and for His pleasure. They were a partial fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants was be a numerous and the stars in the sky. That promise also included the descendants of Ishmael and Esau. So Israel was not chosen because they were anything special, but after they were chosen they became God’s special people.

Paul compares Israel to a cultivated olive tree and Gentile Christians to branches of a wild olive tree. He says the root of the cultivated tree is the stock of Israel; this is was the root stock of faithful Israel. Faithful Israelites or Jews were those in the Old Testament that had faith in Yahweh and believed in the coming of their Messiah; and those since the Advent of Christ who believe in Jesus as their Messiah. They were and are Israelites saved by the blood of Christ. Faithful Gentiles, which are compared to branches of the wild olive tree, because of their faith in Jesus Christ are grafted in to the cultivated tree that is faithful Israel. He also wrote that unfaithful Israelites, or Jews, were branches of the cultivated olive tree that were broken off and cast off of the tree because of their unbelief. However, if they become believers in Christ they too will be grafted back in.

Rom 11:13a, “For I speak to you Gentiles”

Romans 11:16-24 (NKJV): For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

What Paul is saying is that Christians are a part of faithful, Christ-believing Israel. He is NOT saying that the church has replaced Israel. Dispensationalists assert that people who believe the church is a part of true, faithful Israel are claiming that the church has replaced Israel. They call it Replacement Theology, which is a misnomer. We do not believe that the church supersedes Israel. But this is a lie Dispensationalists perpetuate. By perpetuating that lie, they make it look like true believers of the Scriptures concerning Israel and the Church are apostates and false teachers. Guess where such lies come from. See John 8:44. Dallas Theological Seminary, among many others, is a major hotbed of the falsehoods of Dispensationalist theology. That seminary was headed by none other than C.I. Scofield in the late 1880s. Then it was called the Southwestern School of the Bible.

Paul distinguishes between saved Israel and unsaved Israel. He refers to saved Israel as “the Israel of God” in Gal 6:16. He calls unsaved Israel “Israel after the flesh” in Rom 9:3-4, 6, 8 and 1 Cor 10:18 (KJV)1. Saved Gentiles are members of the Israel of God. Note that we are members of the Israel of God; we have not replaced the Israel of God. As members of Israel, we are also participants in the promises God made to Abraham:

Galatians 3:7, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”

Galatians 3:29, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Romans chapter 11 is about the Israel of God and the Israel after the flesh. Galatians Chapter 3 is about Gentiles being justified by faith just as Abraham was.

Israel and the church are not “forever separate.” According to Scripture; they are joined as one body. Unsaved Jews and unsaved Gentiles are all outside of that body; if either become saved, they are brought into that body.

Thus Dispensationalism is wrong about the rapture, and Dispensationalists are wrong when they teach that the Church and Israel are forever separate. That makes Dispensationalism a false doctrine and thus all Dispensationalists that teach that doctrine are false teachers. 

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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  1. Note that the KJV and several other translations use a more literal version of the Greek text in 1 Cor 10:18, which, is Ἰσραηλ κατα σαρκα (Israel kata sarka). All Greek manuscripts available to this author include these words. Several modern versions interpret them, as “the nation or people of Israel,” but the phrase is literally translated “Israel according to the flesh.”
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