THE TWENTY FOUR ELDERS OF REVELATION STUDY
I have included this indepth study on the 24 elders of Revelation, as it deals with who these elders represent. There is so much debate on if there will be a Rapture. We all believe in some type of rapture or being caught up to meet the Lord in the air, we just disagree on it's timing. This article gives an indepth study of a literal interpretation of Biblical facts and descriptions that will make us all think and pray, and study some more. We must be thinking of the Next World, not the one we live in. "Lift up your head, for your redemption draweth nigh"
The Twenty-Four Elders
The Red Moon Rapture prophetic model maintains the position that the Day of the Lord, and thus the Tribulation, begins on the earth after the breaking of the sixth seal. The rapture of the church takes place immediately prior to the events of the sixth seal and the church is then seen in heaven after the Polar Shift as the Great Multitude of Revelation 7:9-17. This view is unique with respect to commonly accepted pre-trib models and this article defends it.
The standard pre-trib interpretation of the twenty-four elders
Current established pre-tribulational models maintain that the Day of the Lord, and thus the Tribulation, begins with the breaking of the first seal. If this is the case, and the Church is raptured before the Tribulation, then it is understood that the Church must be found in heaven as Jesus prepares to open the seven-sealed scroll. The twenty-four elders, the men who John sees immediately after his vision begins in the fourth chapter of Revelation, are recognized as representative of the Church and as proof of the pre-tribulation rapture.
Here is how noted pre-trib scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum explains it,
"The identity of these twenty-four elders has been much debated. Some take it to refer to celestial beings, while others take it to refer to and represent the church. While the text does not clearly state as to what these twenty-four elders refer, there are clues in the text by which their identity can be deduced. First, these elders are clothed with white garments which throughout the Revelation are symbols of salvation. Celestial beings before the throne of God do not need salvation for they were not lost to begin with. But these elders were at one time lost and at some point received salvation as is seen by their wearing of the white garments.
"The second clue is the fact that they are wearing crowns. These crowns are not diadem crowns worn by those who are royal by nature, which would have been the case had these been celestial beings. These crowns are the stephanos crowns, the crowns of an overcomer; the type of crown given as rewards to the members of the church at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
"A third clue lies in their very title of elders. Nowhere else in Scripture is this term used to describe celestial or angelic beings. This term is used of humans in positions of authority either in the synagogue or church.
"Hence, from these three clues, the twenty-four elders must represent the church saints. If this is true, then they provide further evidence for a pre-tribulation Rapture. The church is already in heaven in chapter four and five before the tribulation begins in chapter six." (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p.114).
The first argument that can be made against Fruchtenbaum's reasoning is that stephanos crowns, which Fruchtenbaum calls "overcomer" crowns, are not worn exclusively by "overcomers" or church saints. In Revelation 6:2 the rider on the white horse wears a stephanos crown, in Revelation 9:7 the demon-locusts from the pit wear stephanos crowns, and in Revelation 12:1, the woman, who represents Israel, also wears a stephanos crown. Clearly these crowns do not exclusively refer to Church saints.
This fact aside, it must be agreed that that the twenty-four elders are saved, rewarded human beings, but Fruchtenbaum approaches the question of their identity by only offering two possible answers: that they are either celestial beings or the church. He ignores another possibility, and that is that these elders are simply twenty-four elders, twenty-four men who have been taken to heaven and given positions of authority prior to the rapture of the Church.
Another text that is often used as evidence that the twenty-four elders represent the church is Revelation 5:9-10, where the twenty-four elders respond after Jesus takes the seven-sealed scroll from God the Father,
"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." KJV
A glance at this text leads many to interpret that the twenty-four elders are here claiming to be a group that was redeemed to God from every kindred, tongue, people and nation. Many assume that certainly they must be representative of a much larger group of saints that is now present in heaven.
However, now read the text as written in the NIV,
"And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
This version seems to put the twenty-four elders as distinct from the group that was purchased for God, "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests..."
Rather than degenerate to a "KJV vs..." debate, or a debate over which are the authentic original Greek texts, the situation can be easily remedied by looking more closely at the context of this verse and at what the twenty-four elders were really trying to say. We can even assume that the KJV is the accurate text for the moment. What did they mean by saying "thou hast redeemed us," and "thou hast made us kings and priests..."? Certainly they are speaking for all humanity, but rather than making a statement here about their own identity, (certainly these twenty-four could not be from every nation), I think it is clear that they are simply making a statement regarding the finished work of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross. It was Jesus who saved humanity and who purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and this salvation occurred when He died, and not when the church was raptured. As members of saved humanity, regardless of whether or not the Church is in heaven at this time, the twenty-four elders say,
"...for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests..."
They were making a clear statement about what the sacrificial death of Jesus accomplished. This statement does imply that they were among those who benefited from it, but it does not imply that the twenty-four elders had to be members of a resurrected/raptured Church already present in heaven.
Do the twenty-four elders "represent" a raptured/resurrected Church?
One of the foundations of pre-tribulationism is consistent literal interpretation without unwarranted symbolic interpretations or subjective assumptions. One of the few glaring instances where this rule is ignored is in regard to the twenty-four elders. Fruchtenbaum himself comments on the fact that the twenty-four elders are never explained as being representative of something else saying, "...the text does not clearly state as to what these twenty-four elders refer..." That is correct. The text does not say that they "refer" to anything other than what they are.
Throughout the prophetic scriptures, when a symbol is mentioned it is almost always explained,
17. The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.
23. The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth
24. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom.
20. The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.
21. The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king.
22. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms...
20. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
5. The seven lamps are the seven spirits of God.
9-10. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings.
11. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king.
12. The ten horns you saw are ten kings
15. The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.
18. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.
Why then do we never hear the explanation, "The twenty-four elders you saw are those who were taken from the earth and protected from the wrath of God" ?
The fact is that the twenty-four elders are never once implied to be symbolic of, or representative of, anything other than what they clearly are. Even the great multitude of Revelation 7 is explained as being those "...who have come out of the great tribulation..." (More on this group later).
Why is the identity of every symbol in Revelation explained, including the great multitude, with the lone exception being the identity of the twenty-four elders? I believe that there is no explanation given for the identity of the twenty-four elders because there is no explanation needed. They simply are twenty-four elders. They are twenty-four saved human men who have been taken to heaven and right now hold positions of authority in heaven. Why should it be considered presumptuous to think that a small finite number of human beings have been chosen by God to be in heaven with Him at this time? We know that there are at least three: Enoch, Elijah, and Moses. From their cases we know that God has shown a propensity to take great saints to heaven to live with Him. The Bible may only specifically refer to three that He has taken to heaven but this does not prohibit any more from being in heaven. There is much that God has done that is not recorded in the Bible.
Now we will focus on a group of saints that were in all likelihood taken to heaven sometime after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but prior to the formation of the Church at Pentecost.
The Resurrection of a group of Old Testament saints at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people." Matthew 27:50-53
Prior to this time, in all of Biblical history, there had been only a handful of resurrections: Elisha and the son of the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4), Jesus and the young girl (Matthew 9:18-26), Jesus and Lazarus (John 11:38-44). In each of these prior cases the dead person was resurrected, but only back to mortality, and afterwards the resurrected person lived out the rest of his or her natural life only to die later on a second time. The single exception to all of these cases was the case of Moses. Moses died prior to the entering of Israel into the promised land. In Deuteronomy 34:6 we are told that he was buried in Moab in a specific valley "opposite Beth Peor," but that "to this day no one knows where his grave is." The reason that Moses' grave has never been found is because his body was resurrected to immortality and he was taken to heaven. We know this from various texts including the mention of Moses at the site of Jesus' transfiguration in Matthew 17. Jude also tells us that the body of Moses was retrieved by the archangel Michael, but as Michael was going about this task a strange thing happened: Satan came on the scene and disputed with him over the ownership of the body. Apparently Satan believed that he had the legal right to the body of Moses, however on this point Michael did not even argue, he simply responded by saying "The Lord rebuke you!" and continued on his task. From these texts we know that Moses was resurrected not to mortality, but to immortality and to a glorified body that he might live in heaven with the Lord.
From the resurrection occurrences prior to the crucifixion we can draw some conclusions regarding God's purpose in these resurrections and the basis for which he might resurrect some to mortality and others to immortality.
The young boy, the girl and Lazarus had all died prematurely and had not experienced the fullness of their natural lives. It is safe to assume that all of these people were God-fearing and good people, yet they were not powerful leaders or prophets. By resurrecting these people God was demonstrating several things about His character, including His mercy, His power and the fact that God took pity, not only on the ones who had died, but primarily on the surrounding family members who were grief stricken at their inexplicable sudden loss of a dear loved one. That was God's purpose in these cases. He was showing His compassion. He brought these people back to life, bringing great joy to the lives of those around them. However, they were resurrected only to mortality, they lived out their lives, and then they again passed away once their natural lives had run their course.
It was an entirely different situation with Moses. His death did not leave family members in a demoralized state of sudden loss because Moses died at a ripe old age of 120 years old. And his resurrection did not bring joy and comfort to those around him because he was taken to heaven and not allowed to continue on earth. It is clear that the resurrection of Moses took place for an entirely different set of reasons. First, God resurrected Moses because God had developed a very close and personal bond with this human being over the course of his 120 year life, from the time he was placed in a reed basket and guided to the hands of Pharaoh's daughter, to his confrontation with God at the burning bush, to the time he was allowed to glimpse the glory of the Lord on Mount Sinai (Exodus 33:18-23), and throughout his triumphs and failings as the leader of God's people on earth. It is entirely possible that God felt the loss of Moses with as much grief and sadness as any of Moses' family members. The first reason for resurrecting Moses was that God missed him. The second reason, and the one that applies to the study at hand, is that God also resurrected Moses because he wanted to reward him for his service to God, for a job well done, and for a life well lived. These are two of the reasons for which Moses was resurrected to immortality.
Now we must examine the case of the group of Old Testament saints who were resurrected at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. What was the basis for their resurrection? What was God trying to demonstrate, and were they resurrected to a brief mortality or to an eternal immortality? The clues are few, yet they combine with simple common sense and are enough to arrive at solid conclusions regarding these questions.
They are described as "holy people" (NIV) or "saints" (KJV) "who had died..." so they were people who had served the God of Israel with loyalty and devotion, and most probably they were not people who had died sudden premature deaths. With this in mind it becomes clear that they were not resurrected primarily because God pitied them or their families, or for the purpose of showing His compassion. These Old Testament saints were simply resurrected as a reward that they might be on earth to witness the resurrection of the promised Messiah which all of Israel's prophets had looked forward to. With all of Israel's saints to choose from we can be assured that God did not pick at random the men to be rewarded with this honor.
Now were these honored saints resurrected only to mortality, to soon die, rot and decay, going back to the dust which they had been liberated from? Certainly many of these, probably most of them, had lived out long natural lives, dying only after coming to the fullness of their mortality. If some of these had originally died of old age, and they were then resurrected to mortality, then they would simply have had no natural life left in them with which to live.
This group is also said to have come out of their tombs, and then "...after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people." This seems to imply that their appearance was a temporary occurrence. They did not then take up jobs, find homes to live in and become members of the early church and of society. If this was the case then how come this group of saints is only described by Matthew? Other writers such as Mark, Luke, John, Peter and Paul do not mention them, and indeed nowhere else in the New Testament is this group mentioned. This is evidence that their appearance was only for a brief time, however it does not seem reasonable that God would have resurrected this select group of saints, have them testify about His glory and power after the resurrection of Jesus, and then watch them croak and rot back into the dust again days later.
Further information that may apply to these Old Testament saints can be gleaned from a study of the state of the dead prior to the sacrificial death of Jesus. Here are some brief words on this topic from Arnold Fruchtenbaum (The Footsteps of the Messiah, pp. 363-364),
"Throughout the pages of the Old Testament, both righteous and unrighteous were said to go to a place called in Hebrew Sheol and in Greek Hades. While the Old Testament sacrifices covered the sins of the Old Testament saints, it did not remove their sins (Hebrews 10:4). Only the death of the Messiah could do that. So while the sacrificial system was sufficient to keep them from hell, it was not able to get them into heaven. So all who died, both righteous and unrighteous, went to a place known as Sheol or Hades.
This place contained two compartments, and a description of the two sides of Sheol or Hades is found in Luke 16:19-31...
...Sheol or Hades had two compartments. One compartment was for the unrighteous, and it could be called Hell in the way we use that term today; it was indeed a place of torment (verses 23-25, 28). The other compartment where the righteous went was known as Abraham's Bosom (verse 22); and it was a place of comfort (verse 25) but it was not heaven. Elsewhere the righteous portion of Sheol or Hades is called Paradise as in Luke 23:43...
...While the two sides could see each other and communicate with each other, they were separated by an immense gulf (verse 26) that made it impossible for someone on one side to cross over to the other side.
So, when the Old Testament saint died, his body was buried in the earth while his soul went to Abraham's Bosom or Paradise. On the other hand, when an Old Testament sinner died, his body was also buried in the ground, but his soul went into hell.
When Christ died, He not only paid the price of all future sins, but He also paid the price of all previous sins (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 9:15). Thus, the sins of the Old Testament saints were removed.
What happens next is described in Ephesians 4:8-10:
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men. (Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
While the body of Christ remained in the tomb, His soul went down into the paradise side of Sheol or Hades announcing that the atonement had been made. At the time of His ascension, all the souls of the Old Testament saints were removed out of Abraham's bosom or Paradise and brought into heaven. In this way the righteous portion of Sheol or Hades was eliminated and is no longer in existence.
Today, when an unbeliever dies, his body is still buried in the ground and his soul still goes into hell. However, when the believer dies, though his body is also buried in the ground, his soul goes immediately into heaven... "
Dr. Fruchtenbaum believes that the announcement of the atonement was made in Sheol during the time Jesus' body was in the tomb, however we know that the atonement itself was paid in full at the instant that Jesus Christ died on the cross. Revelation 5:9 says that it was the blood of Christ that "purchased men for God." It was at the very instant that Jesus died that any claim Satan might have had over the bodies of the Old Testament saints was ended. Satan could no longer claim possession as he tried to do with Moses. It was at this instant when the graves of a few chosen Old Testament saints were broken open and they were resurrected, later appearing in Jerusalem and probably testifying about their release from Sheol. It is also illogical to think that these saints were merely resurrected to mortality, to die again after a brief span of days or months. These men were most likely taken to heaven, raptured from wherever they were either before or at the same time Jesus ascended, when He also took with Him the rest of the souls who had been liberated from Sheol.
And these are the men, as well as Enoch, Elijah, Moses and any others that the Lord has raptured or resurrected over the ages, who John witnessed in heaven and described simply as the twenty-four elders.
Those who support the twenty-four elders as being representative of the church like to point out the fact that in 1 Chronicles 24 David divided the priestly tribe of Levi into twenty-four groups to represent the whole. It is reasoned that the twenty-four elders represent the church in heaven because the church is also referred to as a kingdom of priests. It must be agreed that the twenty-four elders do hold positions of authority in heaven and that they are a part of saved and redeemed humanity. They, like all of us, were saved by the sacrificial death of the Messiah. In this context they could be "representative" of redeemed humanity, yet this does not mean that all of humanity, or even just the church, must also be in heaven when they are seen in heaven in Revelation 4. These elders are living with God the Father right now, and they are seated on thrones that surround the throne of God (4:4). At this time these elders are holding golden bowls full of incense (5:8), which are described as "the prayers of the saints." These are our prayers, the prayers that come from the church, that are disseminated in heaven, through the bowls that the elders hold, as sweet-smelling incense. These prayers are not only the prayers of "tribulation saints" as some interpretations are forced to conclude; they are the prayers of believers today.
A common belief among pre-trib scholars is that the taking of John, in the spirit, up to heaven in chapter four of Revelation is also representative of the rapture of the Church, whereupon John immediately sees the twenty-four elders seated on thrones around the throne of God. This is based in part on the promise in Revelation 3:20, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." It is also based on Paul's words in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that the rapture will occur at the sound of a trumpet. These two predictions are said to be fulfilled when Paul is told in Revelation 4:1, "After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here...' "
Even Fruchtenbaum, who supports the idea that the twenty-four elders represent the church, rejects this interpretation of the passage. He writes,
"Many pre-millennialists see the rapture of the church in this verse, but this requires somewhat of an allegorical interpretation. Following the golden rule of interpretation, this verse merely contains an invitation for John to come to heaven in vision (verse 2) in order that God can show him the things which must come to pass hereafter... The invitation to John is not a symbol of the Rapture..." (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p.113).
If the rapture occurs at the same time as John is taken to heaven in 4:1 as many pre-tribulationists believe, or even prior to this as Fruchtenbaum believes, then a serious problem arises. The Apostle Paul was very specific when he described the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. It is clear that after the rapture we, the Body of Christ, will never be separated from our Savior as he writes, "...And so we will be with the Lord forever." The problem is that the twenty-four elders are first described in heaven in Revelation 4:4, yet Jesus Christ is not shown in heaven until Revelation 5:6. Within this period of time John witnesses God the Father as He holds the seven-sealed scroll, then he listens as a mighty angel asks for someone to be found who is worthy to open the scroll. No one in heaven, or on the earth or under the earth is found and John describes how he wept and wept because of this. Finally, after some period of time, John is approached and told that the Lion of Judah, Jesus the Messiah, has been found and is able to open the scroll and break the seals. It is definitely a mystery as to why Jesus was not immediately found and why John wept, but the problem is still there. Certainly when the church is raptured we will be immediately taken into the glorious presence of our Lord and Savior. We will not have to wait in heaven for any amount of time for Jesus to come on the scene, and once we do meet Him He will never leave us. This is yet another reason why the twenty-four elders must not represent the raptured church.
The Great Multitude
It has already been shown that the twenty-four elders are never, either implicitly or explicitly, described as being symbolic of or representative of, anything other than what they clearly are. Never is John told, "these are they who were taken off of the earth immediately prior to the tribulation." However, a very similar explanation is given for the great multitude of Revelation 7. John asks who they are and an elder tells him, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation..." (7:14). It must be emphasized that the Greek words used here for "out of" are erchomai ek, and these words can also be interpreted as "away from." In other words, "These are they who have come away from the great tribulation." This explanation is similar to the promise given to the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10, "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." The Greek words used here for "keep you from" are the words tereo ek. The church is promised to be "kept from" the Tribulation in Revelation 3:10 and that promise is shown to be fulfilled by the great multitude of Revelation 7 who are taken "away from" the Great Tribulation..
At the time John sees the great multitude in heaven the great tribulation has already begun on the earth and the effects of the sixth seal have already been felt. The elder simply tells John that this great multitude was taken away from that great tribulation. They were rescued from it, and there is nothing that demands that they experienced any of it. The pre-trib rapture is not dependant on the twenty-four elders as being representative of the church.
[For a detailed look at the entire Timeline of the Apocalypse see the book Red Moon Rising, which can be read online for free here]
It has also been mentioned that the twenty-four elders are first seen in heaven during a time period in which Jesus Christ is not shown and cannot be found. This is contradictory to what Paul said regarding the church and stands in stark contrast to the great multitude of Revelation 7 which is first shown standing "before the throne and in front of the Lamb," and then described as crying out in praise saying, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." As should be expected, we, the church, are immediately greeted by our Savior when we first meet Him in the air above the earth (1 Thess 4:17), and then when we appear in heaven our Lord is right there in the midst of us as we continually worship and praise Him (Revelation 7:9-10). From the moment of our Rapture we will always be with our Lord, whether we are with Him in the air immediately after the Rapture, with Him in heaven during the Tribulation, with Him on earth during the Millennial Kingdom, or with Him as the earth enters the eternal state after the millenium.
Here are seven more reasons to interpret the great multitude as representative of the raptured church:
1- This group seems to suddenly appear in heaven all at once. The rapture of the Church will be the only event that brings a great multitude into heaven at the very same time, because the souls of dead believers come into heaven one by one.
2- They are so numerous that no man can number them. They must be a large multitude indeed because the 144,000 were easily numbered. The rapture of the Church would likely include millions of believers.
3- In Revelation 5:11 the twenty-four elders mention that the death of the Lamb purchased men for God "... from every tribe and language and people and nation." This is a description that can apply to the church. The great multitude are described in a similar manner as being "...from every nation, tribe, people and language."
4- They appear in heaven as living believers. Nowhere are they described as being simply souls or dead people. Souls of dead believers are kept in temporary holding areas such as under the altar, yet this group serves in the temple of heaven before the throne of God.
5- Revelation 7:15 mentions that "...He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them." It is God the Father who is sitting on the throne. Surely this is the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made in John 14:1-3 that He would come again and take us to His Father's house that we might live with Him (and His Father) in heaven for a time. This promise only applies to believers of the Church Age. If you become a believer after the rapture then you will never "dwell" in heaven with the Father. You will have to wait until after the millenium to live with the Father but it will not be in heaven, it will be on earth after He brings down the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-3). The souls of the believers who die during the tribulation will be kept in heaven, but they will not be "living" or "dwelling" with God the Father. If this were the case then Jesus would have simply said in John 14, "When you die then you will go to my Father's house to live with Him." This is not the case. Jesus clearly connects living or dwelling with the Father in heaven to the rapture and His coming for the Church. Only after the rapture/resurrection will we be living in heaven with Jesus and the Father. Therefore the fact that the great multitude dwells with and serves God the Father in heaven is evidence that this group is the raptured Church.
6- 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is a promise to the Church, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The appearance of this great multitude in heaven is the fruition of that promise. Notice that when they appear in heaven these saints cry out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7:10.
7- Another group is mentioned in Revelation 19:1-3,6-8. They are also described as a "great multitude" and they also shout "Salvation and glory and power belong to our God..." Here at the end of the tribulation this group praises God and says, "For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." This fine linen is a reference to the white robes that the great multitude was wearing upon entering heaven after the sixth seal. I believe that these saints received their white robes when they were raptured from the earth at the fifth seal, immediately after the resurrection of the dead in Christ. It was the resurrection which John caught a glimpse of when he watched the martyrs as they were given white robes in Revelation 6:11. Those who are wearing these white garments are referred to as "the bride" of the Lamb (19:7), which is a clear reference to the church.
This article was not intended to be an attack on pre-tribulationism, but merely meant to be a reformation of some of its interpretations. Lately the pre-trib rapture has been coming under attack from all sides. The majority of young people that I have come into contact with who have been exposed to intellectual attacks on pre-tribulationism, such as Rosenthal's pre-wrath rapture, are often almost immediately swayed by the many truths regarding the details that can be found in these other models. They seem to find it "soft" for people to believe we will not have to experience the Antichrist's persecution, and it is becoming more and more accepted, and even desirable, that we must look forward to a day when we will wage holy war directly against the son of Satan. As I have been saying from the start I believe that the pre-trib rapture is solid and accurate regarding its important conclusion that the rapture will occur before the tribulation. On the other hand, the standard pre-trib rapture model is greatly flawed when it comes to its interpretation of the details. It is these details which are grasped and correctly interpreted by men like Rosenthal, but he uses them in combination with a contradictory and greatly flawed prophetic chronology to arrive at the conclusion that the church will not be raptured until after the Abomination of Desolation at the midpoint of the 70th Week. It is the details which draw people to the pre-wrath rapture, but these same details can also be used, this time with a biblically correct prophetic chronology, to come to a pre-tribulation conclusion. This is what the Red Moon Rapture has set out to accomplish.