This has been weighing on my heart for the past few days, so I wanted to pass this idea before the group for discernment.
I’m not attempting to articulate some new doctrine here, but I have an opinion that I wanted to share about the concept of “tribulation saints” that I hear discussed by many mainstream pre-tribulation pastors and authors. I don’t see it mentioned anywhere specifically in scripture that a special group of people will come to Christ after the church is raptured and the tribulation has begun, but it is assumed by implication since believers are mentioned in terms of persecution during the reign of the antichrist. I am presuming that in order to get the pre-tribulation theory to harmonize with scripture, this category has been created.
My suggestion is that the “tribulation saint” is a myth, and that other scriptures can show that when God has poured out his wrath on the earth in days past there have been no survivors, but those he spared from destruction beforehand. The discussion of the Lord closing the door on the ark, and speculation about the reaction of those outside encouraged me to share what’s been on my heart.
In Gensesis 7:16, we see that it was God’s very hand that closed the Noah his family and the animals to be preserved in the ark.
And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in. (Genesis 7:16 ESV )
Later in the passage we see that, beside Noah his family and those animals that God had spared there were no survivors of God’s wrath.
And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. (Genesis 7:21-23 ESV)
We see it repeated 3 times in 3 subsequent verses that EVERY living creature was killed. There was not one survivor of God’s wrath. I think the repetition is meant to reinforce to us how total and complete God’s wrath is when it is poured out upon the earth.
We see another example of God’s wrath being poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah later in Genesis:
And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. (Genesis 19:25 ESV)
and when Abram looked upon the destruction:
And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. (Genesis 19:28 ESV)
Again- no mention of a single survivor except Lot and his family who had been warned to leave the city before its encounter with God’s wrath.
Later, as Israel wandered in the desert, a group of men aligned with Korah to challenge Moses authority to lead the people. This rebellion again invited God’s wrath. Again, when God’s wrath is poured out – there is not one survivor, not one.
And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. (Numbers 16:32-33 ESV)
Here then we have 3 clear example where God’s wrath is poured out, once on the whole earth, and twice on a specific groups of people who have rejected God’s authority. In all 3 instances there are no survivors, but those God has preserved beforehand – having Noah to build the ark, Lot to flee Sodom, and Moses and Israel to move away from the tents of Korah.
Given these three examples in scripture, I don’t see how so many teachers (some of whom I have great respect for in all other areas) can suggest that there will be some people on the earth that will be saved from out of the midst of God pouring out his wrath full strength upon the earth.
The prophet Zephaniah reinforces this view that the destruction wrought by the Lord in his day of wrath is complete – there will be no survivors, but those that have been spared by the blood of the Lamb beforehand.
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zephaniah 1:18 ESV)
I wanted to finish up with the last bit that I think the proponent of the pre-tribulation view might use to dispute the totality of destruction brought by God’s wrath.
And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:22 ESV)
We know believers are not destined to endure God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9) – so for the believer the days of trouble will be cut short. I think anyone who is elevating the opinion of a pre-tribulation rapture to that of doctrine, should prayerfully consider whether this means that God’s wrath will be cut short – so that some humans would survive it or if this means that God’s wrath is cut short for the believers, the elect, who will be removed immediately prior to God’s wrath being poured out on the Earth.