Prophecy Conference 2001
The Great Rapture Debate
This partial transcript is from an audiotape made during the Bible Prophecy Conference featuring Dr. Thomas Ice, Executive Director of the Pre-Tribulation Research Center. Calvary Chapel in Athens, Georgia hosted the Bible Prophecy Conference on December 1-2, 2001. This portion is taken from a question and answer period which followed the session that Dr. Ice taught on the Book of Daniel.
Richard Perry: “In one of your slides you seemed to connect Michael’s arising in Daniel 12:1 to Michael’s casting Satan from heaven in Revelation 12.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “No those are two separate events.”
Richard Perry: “Why did you put them together then? It seemed that you were showing that when Satan comes down to earth he then empowers the Antichrist at the point of the Abomination that causes desolation.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “No, I just brought that up as a point of the overview. However, you know, you may be right, there may be a connection there.”
Richard Perry: “Then if you go to Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2, he is talking about he that restrains the secret power of lawlessness until he is taken out of the way. Then the Antichrist is revealed. Then the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Those things seem to go together.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “No, the Daniel and the Revelation passage do not picture Michael as restraining, it simply talks about him standing up and doing something.”
Richard Perry: “It is interesting the timing. Those three things seem like they could be happening at the same time.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “It is interesting, Arnold Fruchtenbaum holds that same view that Michael is the Restrainer. However, I hold the position that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit.”
Richard Perry: “A question about the Seventy Weeks, at the end of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, is that when the Kingdom is established, when Christ is restoring everything?”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Yes! And it is very Jewish and those six things I mentioned in Daniel 9:24 will all be completed by the end of the Seventy Weeks.”
Richard Perry: “If that is so, I am struggling with the Pre Tribulation position. Acts 3:21 says that Jesus must remain in heaven until it is time for Him to restore everything. Which I see happening at the end of the Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. So, how does He get out of heaven before the tribulation period to rapture the Church?”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Because in Acts chapter three as in Acts chapter two He is talking to the Jewish people. And He is saying that the times of refreshing or the Kingdom is not going to come until you Jewish people repent. That is what the tribulation period is all about.”
Richard Perry: “Whether He is talking about the Jewish people or not, the Word says, that He must remain in heaven until it is time to restore everything.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Right!”
Richard Perry: “Then how does He come out of heaven into the air, if He must remain in heaven until after the tribulation?”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “The New Testament comes and gives us the new revelation about the Rapture. Where Christ doesn’t come to the earth but He meets us in the cloud in the heavens and we return back with Him to the Father’s house. There are only two comings, when He came 2,000 years ago and the Second Coming when He returns with His raptured Church called His Bride to Terra Firma and He reigns for a thousand years. The rapture is said to be a mystery in 1 Corinthians 15 meaning a new revelation. Something that was always part of God’s plan just never revealed, why because the Church Age is a mystery, Ephesians chapter two and three....”
Richard Perry: “So, you are interpreting the heavens in Acts 3:21 as not heaven where the Father and the Son are residing at the moment, but as both heavens as in terms of the heaven that means the air, meaning that Jesus hasn’t really left heaven if He is still in the air?”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Uh, I don’t know that you have to resolve something that precise. All I know is that the contexts of Acts chapter two and three is in relationship to the Jewish nation. When are these things going to happen for Israel? That the times of refreshing are going to come…. It is not dealing with the Church.”
Richard Perry: “So, if I understand, Christ will come for the Church which is the “blessed hope” at the rapture before the seven year tribulation period and then at the end of the seven-year period He will come to earth with the Church to judge the nations and the unbelieving world.
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Yes!”
Richard Perry: “Then I have a hard time understanding what Paul is talking about in 2 Thessalonians first chapter where he says, those of you that are troubled I will provide relief, and it says, when He comes He will judge the unbelieving world with His angles in blazing fire which is clearly a picture of His coming at the end of the tribulation period.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Take vengeance, he says.”
Richard Perry: “He is saying at that point, this is when your relief comes, this is when the “blessed hope” comes. Clearly he is talking about the end of the seven-year period.
Dr. Thomas Ice: “A week from now a guy in our Tenth Annual Pre-Trib Study group is going to do a whole paper on that. So if you will contact Jeffery, I will send a paper or a recording with the full answer. But, basically he is saying in 2 Thessalonians 1 that “Quid Pro Quo” is going to happen at the Second Coming when Christ returns to the earth and judges people. That doesn’t relate or not relate to the Rapture. In other words, things are going to be made right because that is the issue in 2 Thessalonians 1 when are things going to be made right. Things are going to be made right at the Second Coming not at the Rapture because then you have the whole tribulation period.”
Richard Perry: “Is not the resurrection and the rapture two parts of the same event?”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Uh, Well, for the Church Age it is. We saw in Daniel 12:1-2 the Old Testament saints are going to be resurrected at the end of the tribulation. It explicitly says that.”
Richard Perry: “It says, your people, everyone whose name is written in the book.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “That’s correct!”
Richard Perry: “My name is in the book.”
Dr. Ice: “Well, but your part of the Church and that is why if you don’t get past the fact that its said to be a mystery or new revelation, in other words …”
Richard Perry: “The mystery in 1 Corinthians 15:51 is a very clear description of the resurrection and the rapture combined, everybody says that. Right?”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Yea, right”
Richard Perry: “First Corinthians 15:51-55 is the resurrection and the rapture.
Dr. Thomas Ice: “No, the rapture, they're separate, the rapture is the translation of living believers the resurrection can only happen to dead people.”
Richard Perry: “The rapture as you call it, isn’t that the resurrection also. I always thought that the Bible was teaching and even Pre-Tribbers taught that the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of the living where going to take place at the same time in the twinkling of an eye.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Yes, but, I wish I could go through my rapture presentation because, you have the phrase twice in 1 Thessalonians 4:12-17, in Jesus and in Christ, it is those who are in Christ who are going to be raptured. That is used almost a hundred times in the Epistles as a technical term for the Church. That is only referring to people from Pentecost to the rapture; it doesn’t include all Old Testament saints and people who are saved during the tribulation. That is why they're going to resurrected at the end of the seven-year tribulation.”
Richard Perry: “The Old Testament Saints?”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “That correct.”
Richard Perry: “One of the other things is, 1 Corinthians 15:55-55 being a great description of the resurrection, also gives us some other indications of timing. It doesn’t specifically state, but refers to two places in Scripture, both which seem to indicate timing of when the Kingdom comes. In other words, Paul says, Listen, I tell you a mystery that will happen at the last trumpet. If you look at the last trumpet in the Bible…”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “No, just a second, he doesn’t say the mystery will happen at the last trumpet. He says the mystery is we will not all sleep; we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye.
Richard Perry: “At the last trumpet.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Right!”
Richard Perry: “So, he tells you when it’s going to happen.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Well, the resurrection as we just read, in Daniel 12:1 was not a mystery, it was revealed in the Old Testament…the change in the twinkling of an eye is the translation of living people that’s different technically than the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.”
Richard Perry: “Well, the twinkling of and eye actually refers to both.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Well actually it says that the resurrection happens first”
Richard Perry: “That in 1 Thessalonians 4.”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “A twinkling of an eye before we are translated, people joke that they are six feet under so they need a head start. So they are resurrected first. We who are alive and remain will be caught-up, that’s where we get the word rapture. We will be caught-up to meet them in the air. Those are two separate events, the resurrection and the rapture….”
Richard Perry: “I’m still struggling, you can tell. I have read several verses in Scripture where Christ in the Olivet Discourse is talking about the great distress (tribulation) of those days. Immediately after that, He says, the Son of Man will come in the clouds after the darkening of the sun, moon and stars which is a sign before the Day of the Lord. Then He says you will see the Son of Man in the clouds and He will send His angels with a trumpet call and gather His elect. So, here you have the tribulation period and Christ coming after the tribulation period. Says the same thing in Luke. And Paul says the same thing in 2 Thessalonians 2 as he talks about letting no one deceive you in any way for that Day, your gathering the coming of the Lord will not occur until two things happen. The rebellion and the man of lawlessness being revealed, that after the tribulation. Here’s my question. Is there any Scripture or verses or passages in Scripture that place the return of Christ before either the appearing of the Antichrist, the tribulation period or the Great Tribulation? Any Scripture, nobody has been able to show me any, so far.
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Ok, I just finished a article on Matthew 24:29-31 that will be out in our Pre-Trib Perspectives in January 2002. We do not publish a Pre-Trib Perspectives in December we take the month off. And that grew out of a debate I had with Irving Baxter, you heard of him. He a big Post Tribber… Then you get to 2 Thessalonians 2:3 that the word apostasia, very likely refers to the rapture. It is a word that is only used twice as a noun in the whole New Testament, as it is used there. It is used as an ellipsis which means there is no object and so he says unless the departure occurs first and he doesn’t have a subordinate clause or and adjustable phase explaining what the departure is. It was something that the Thessalonians knew about and something that Paul knew.
Richard Perry: “So, you take Schuyler English’s position on the apostasia?”
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Yes”
Richard Perry: “But, he focuses in on that so much that he losses the context of the sentence. The sentence says, Paul says, about the coming of the Lord and our being gathered together, that the Day of the Lord would not come until … The Rapture occurs? Wait a minute, the Rapture doesn’t occur until the Rapture occurs?
Dr. Thomas Ice: “I had a debate with Robert Gundry, he is the number one Post Tribulationalist, and he had a book he came out with in 1997 called First the Antichrist. He wrote me a personal letter saying that the finding of the pseudo Ephraim letter inspired him to write that book. So we had a nice little debate, and his whole premise is that the Antichrist has to come first. And that is one of the implications is that Post Tribbers are looking for the Antichrist, not for Christ. They have a problem harmonizing other the New Testament passages, their are about ten of them that say we are to be looking for Christ, we are to be looking for Christ…. In the letter, Paul was explaining to the Thessalonians that they were not in the Day of the Lord. They thought the Day of the Lord had already come.”
Richard Perry: “Clearly the Thessalonians were confused. Now if you study the Day of the Lord in the Old Testament you see pretty clearly that the Day of the Lord is the Wrath of God. That seems obvious to me and we know we are not appointed unto Wrath.
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Right.”
Richard Perry: “In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus even gives us the sign that Joel 2 gives us when he says that the sun and the moon and the stars will be darkened before the Day of the Lord. And Jesus tells us that following the tribulation, the distress of those days, that the sun, moon and stars will be darkened which is the sign before the Day of the Lord. And that is the Wrath or the Bowls in Revelation. So obviously the Thessalonian Church was confused.
Dr. Thomas Ice: “Yeh, well, if you go to Zephaniah chapter one second half, it has like twelve or thirteen different terms that describe the Day of the Lord… People don’t define the many Old Testament terms that are used for the time of the Day of the Lord and fail to harmonize these passages. …. If wrath refers to the seven-year period then obviously in 1 Thessalonians we are promised to be kept from that time and in Revelation we are told we will be kept from the time of testing. …”
End of Tape