Afriend of mine sent me a Christian news article from a survey that was done regarding various, endtime events dealing with Jesus’ Second Coming and the Rapture. The survey was compiled by Bob Smietana, entitled "Facts and Trends" and published 4/26/2016 by Christianity Today.
The findings came from a telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors and their views on end-times theology from Nashville-based Life Way Research, sponsored by Charisma House Book Group. His findings revealed some interesting trends, as the following excerpts highlight.
"Most Protestant pastors believe Jesus will return in the future. But few agree about the details of the apocalypse. A third of America’s Protestant pastors expect Christians to be raptured—or taken up in the sky to meet Jesus—as the end times begin.”
End-times theology remains popular with churchgoers, says Scott McConnell, vice president of Life Way Research. But it’s not an easy topic to preach about.
“Most people want their pastor to preach about the Book of Revelation and the end of the world,” he says. “But that’s a complicated task. Pastors and the scholars they cite often disagree about how the end times will unfold.”
About a third (36%) of Protestant senior pastors believe in the kind of pre-tribulation rapture familiar to pop culture. In that scenario, Christians disappear at the start of the apocalypse. Those left behind suffer great trouble or tribulation.
Among pastors, 1 in 4 say the rapture is not literal. Almost 1 in 5 thinks the rapture happens after the tribulation (18%).
A few believe the rapture already happened (1%), or that it will occur during the tribulation (4%), or before the wrath of God is poured out on the earth (4%). Others don’t agree with any of these views (8%), or aren’t sure what will happen (4%).
Mainline Protestant pastors (36%) are more likely to say the rapture isn’t literal. Pastors who hold this view include about half of Lutherans (60%), Methodists (48%), and Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (49%). Few Baptist (6%) or Pentecostal pastors (less than 1%) hold this view.
Evangelicals overall (43%) are more likely to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture.
As you can see from this survey, there are various views on this very important topic. Not only are there major questions and different views on Jesus’s Second coming and the Rapture, but in the Christian Endtime theology there’s also debate on the Marriage Supper of Lamb, the Wrath of God, the Battle of Armageddon, and the Millennium (the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth). For example some Endtime Bible teachers teach that’s there is no Millennium. (Revelation 20)
There is also confusion between the Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God that covers the seven trumpets of Tribulation and the seven vials of the wrath of God. There’s quite a debate among Christians regarding when the Great Tribulation happens and when does the Wrath of God happen?
The most commonly viewed scenario is that of the Secret Rapture Christians. They teach that even before the Antichrist Confirms the last seven-year covenant (Daniel 9:27) there will be a secret rapture, and then the seven years of Tribulation will begin after the rapture. According to this theory, only the best and prepared Christians will partake of this secret rapture, but some Christians will be left behind.
Another scenario that some Christians believe in is a mid-term Tribulation Rapture. For example, when the Antichrist confirms the seven-year covenant, Christians will still be on the earth and this period is known to them as 1,260 days of Tribulation. Not the great tribulation, but just a time of tribulation.
In this view, when the Antichrist breaks the covenant in the middle of the seven years a Great Tribulation of 75 days begins, followed by the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Resurrection and Rapture. Then the next event according to this mid-term Tribulation Rapture doctrine is 1,215 days of the Wrath of God where the seven trumpets are sounding and bring in judgment on the earth (Revelation Chapters 8 and 9) and the seven vials of wrath will be poured out d. (Revelation Chapter 16)
This doctrine is presented as a Post Tribulation Rapture, but it is not! The last seven years begin when the Antichrist confirms the covenant. Daniel 9:27 says: He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (seven years).
This covenant is mentioned several other times in the Scriptures. Because it is called a “holy covenant” in Daniel 11:28,30, it appears to be some sort of religious pact, at least in part – quite possibly one that tackles the thorny issue of religious coexistence between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and by which, Jerusalem will be declared an international city with free and equal access guaranteed to people of all faiths. It appears that this will also clear the way for the Jews to finally be able to rebuild their Third Temple on Jerusalem’s Mount Moriah and reinstitute animal sacrifices on its altar.
This first 3-1/3 years of the seven-year covenant is not the Tribulation. During the first half of the Antichrist’s seven-year reign, a lot of people are going to think that the Antichrist is wonderful because he will have brought some peace, restored the world’s economy, redistributed the wealth, helped the poor, solved the Middle East crisis, and promised religious liberty (Daniel 11:21-24).
But in the “midst of the week”–or three and a half years into the seven-year covenant period the Antichrist will break the covenant.
"He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (seven years): and in the midst of the week (he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation [offering] to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Daniel 9:27).
Over 500 years after Daniel gave this prophecy, Jesus referred to it in His dissertation on the signs of His second coming and of the end of the world as we know it:
When you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place [the rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem] … then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:15,21).
This time period is known as the 3-1/2 years of Great Tribulation. It says 42 months in Revelation 13:5 and 1,260 days in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6, which is 3-1/2 years. The Bible uses the Ancient Lunar Calendar of 360 days in one year, whereas the present Solar Calendar is 365- 1/4 days per year.
At this time, a world cashless economic system will be set up in which nobody will be able to buy or sell without the 666 mark of the beast as described in Revelation 13:16-18. This could possibly be in the form of an RFID Chip implant, but at this point of course we’re not sure of the exact technology to be used.
During this time, “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many” (Daniel 11:32-33). The people of the world are going to be more desperate for the truth than ever, and those who know God’s Word and are faithful witnesses for the Lord are going to teach and encourage millions. In spite of all that the Antichrist’s forces will do to try to stop them, millions of God’s children will keep going for God till the very end.