From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 6- The Blowing of Trumpets: An Introduction to Tabernacles, continued
Why were the Thessalonians Troubled?
If it is true, as we are generally taught, that the Thessalonian Christians thought they had missed the rapture because of the supposed letter they had received from the apostle Paul, then how is it that the apostle Paul must have missed it too? Apparently they had received a letter bearing Paul’s signature, stating that the Day of the Lord had started or was about to start. (2 Thess. 2:2). And the common explanation is that they were “troubled,” because they expected they would have been raptured when this Day began. Now if the Thessalonians actually thought that Paul wrote that deceptive letter–and it is clear that they did,–then why should they be “troubled,” for if they missed the rapture, then Paul must have missed it too!
But no, Paul had never taught them that they should be taken away from the earth when the Great Tribulation started. What he did tell them was that they should not be “moved” by afflictions or tribulations of any kind, “for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.” (1 Thess. 3:3, 4). Knowing, therefore, that they were to go through the Tribulation, they were particularly “troubled” about this deceptive letter they received, because according to this letter the Day of the Lord, or the Great Tribulation, was just about to start. Paul therefore would comfort them again by informing them that this great and terrible Day of the Lord “shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thess. 2:3). The Day of the Lord, Paul would tell them, was not imminent, because the man of sin had to be revealed before that great Day. It is not our purpose to prove, or to disprove that “the man of sin” has been revealed. The fact remains that a “rapture” is not held out to the saints as their hope in the hour of the Great Tribulation; nor are we taught that the saints who are walking in the light are going to be caught unawares when the Day of the Lord begins. On the contrary we are told, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thess. 5:4).
As in the days of Noah.
As for the hour of the Great Tribulation, Jesus said it would be as in the days of Noah. What happened, then, at the time of the Flood? Those who were spared the wrath of God were left right in the very midst of the wrath of God, but protected by the ark. So shall it be in the Day of the Lord. “The one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matt. 24:40). Now who were taken at the time of the flood? We read, “The flood came, and took them all away,”–all except those who were in the ark. (Matt. 24:39). In the very same way, Jesus said, would men be taken as in a “snare” at the time of the Day of the Lord. (Lk. 21:35). The powers of darkness and the wrath of God shall be poured out with such sudden fury over all the earth, that men shall be caught unawares, as if in a trap, and shall not escape. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thess. 5:3). GHW
If God had wanted to simply spare Noah and his family, He could have transported them to the top of Mt. Ararat the morning the rain started and saved everybody at lot of trouble. But God wanted 120 years of Noah preaching righteousness while he was building the ark as an opportunity for others to heed the call to repentance. In the same way, God is not going to remove His bride from the earth, but desires she preach righteousness, as Noah did, as a witness to God’s love for people. When things get tough, and they will, the voice of His people will be the voice of grace to those who hear and believe but the voice of impending judgment to those who refuse to hear and reject His grace.