One of the things I've been hearing spoken a lot of late in prophesy and general Christian circles is that we're right in the middle of Christ loosing the seven seals of Revelation. (chapters 5-8) The exact number of seals that are claimed to be released varies from only the first one to the first four. To be honest I can fully understand where and how someone would come to that conclusion given the world around us today. However, sad to say, they're wrong, and here's why.
For those of you who understand typology, and the absolute consistency of it in the bible, all you have to do is read verse 4 of chapter 5, which precedes the opening of the first seal, and it completely destroys the idea that even the first seal has been opened. Let me show you what I mean. (emphasis mine)
Revelation 4:4 (KJV) - "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold."
Now, back that up a little and look at the first bolded set of words: White Raiment. Who in the bible, aside from God and the angels, is ever mentioned as having white raiment, or crowns for that matter? The church, and only the church. Period. You don't hear of it of the Old Testament saints, and you don't hear of it of the Tribulation or Millennial Saint. Only the bride of Christ, aka the Church, and none other. Don't believe me? Fast forward to chapter 19 for more proof.
Revelation 19:7-8 (KJV) - "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
Okay, question. Who's at the marriage supper of the lamb? The church. Who is the bride? The church. Could it be the tribulation saints? Nope, they're still under the alter as referenced in the 5th seal spoken of in Rev 6:9-11. Also, take note of those under the alter spoken of in those verses. (again, emphasis mine)
Revelation 6:9-11 (KJV) - "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
Notice anything about this verse? They're given white robes. Not raiment. Robes. Big difference, and that difference is key. Also, if you look at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, that occurs BEFORE the Tribulation ends, because shortly after that Christ returns and starts dropping major levels of smackdown on the remaining enemies of God, including the Devil and the Anti-Christ. When He does, not all the Tribulation martyrs are dead yet. There's no explicable proof that there will be once Christ appears in the clouds, but I can almost assure you that there will still be men and women dying for Christ while and slightly after the Marriage Supper.
So, how can those under the alter be the church or even the martyrs of the church if they're specifically told to wait until the full measure of their brothers and sisters who are to die come in? And how can they be either if the marriage happens BEFORE Christ comes back with the church, who at that time happen to be dressed in White Raiment with new, glorified bodies, yet those who die in the tribulation don't get their new bodies or come alive again until AFTER Christ defeats the Anti-Christ? No, those under the alter, by pure force of evidence, are the Tribulation saints.
So let's ask this. If those under the alter are martyred Tribulation saints, where does the rapture happen? Well, take a look at chapter 4 and watch how the text changes. Up to this point John is on the Earth watching all of these things. In Chapter 4 John is "caught up" or raptured into Heaven. At that time he sees the 24 elders who are members of Christ's bride, the church. So that by needs means that the Rapture MUST come FIRST BEFORE even one single seal or action of the Tribulation begins.
There's also the verses that Christ tells us we are not appointed to wrath, however we are appointed to suffer tribulation, but not THE Tribulation. That's a whole other animal itself and these verses prove it.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 (KJV) - "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,"
Acts 14:22 (KJV) - "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
Now I'm sure some would point towards the second verse as proof that we must go through at least part, if not all of the Tribulation. But if you look at the wording, the verse itself completely destroys that idea right off the bat. It says "much tribulation", not "The Tribulation". Big difference. And lastly, lest you think I'm completely off my rocker and that nothing I've said has proven to you that the rapture must be BEFORE the Tribulation and that the Church WILL NOT be here at all for any tiny part of the Tribulation, let me leave you with these two things to chew on.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 (KJV) - "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."
First off, the Day of the Lord can't come as a thief in the night to the church, no matter how backslidden they may be. That's because we've been taught countless things about it and know it's coming, and how to identify it. However, those in darkness, aka the lost, have no clue what's coming and won't know what hit them. So, if the Day of the Lord can't catch believers unaware in the same way it will unbelievers, doesn't that automatically facilitate the requirement that we be gone? Especially if the "whole earth" is caught off guard? If believers are here, you can't have the whole earth being caught off guard because some clearly wouldn't, making something like that impossible. All the believers have to be gone. That's the only thing that makes that verse possible.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 (KJV) - "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
To begin with, I'd like to clarify one thing first. The original King James translation takes the word "Apostasia" and translates it "A falling away". That's incorrect. Allow me to show you what the actual Strong's definition is. (PS, Strong's is the ultimate bible concordance, and I recommend getting one for yourself. It's super helpful.)
Strong's Word #646 apostasia (derived from 868 /aphistemi, "leave, depart," which is derived from 575 /apo, "away from" and 2476 /histemi, "stand") - properly, departure (implying desertion); apostasy - literally, "a leaving, from a previous standing."
Now, I'm sure when you first read that, you're thinking, "Sure, that just backed up my point that it's gotta happen after the falling away, or the great apostasy as we see it today. Umm, no. Why? Well, first off, 2 Thes 2:3 uses the word Apostasia. However, 1 Tim 4:1 uses the word "Aphistemi", which is actually the correct word for falling away as we understand it. And as Greek is super specific about its meanings, that should say something.
Another proof to this fact is that Apostisia is Strong's word 646, whereas Aphistemi is word 868. Two entirely different words which, yes, have similar meanings. But yet they're two whole different words with unique, albeit similar meanings. To more correctly translate Apostisia one would say to be "caught away" or "taken away" from wherever the item or individual is. The fact that the two verses alone use entirely different Greek words should be enough to convince you that yes, they're describing two different subjects and not the same one. Plus, if you consider that the Apostisia talked about in 2 Thess 2:3, combined with the arrival of the Anti-Christ AFTERWARDS, then it in turn matches up with numerous other verses saying the same thing, and using the SAME word Apostisia, NOT Aphistemi as used in verses talking about the "falling away" or the coming "apostasy". Look it up for yourself if you don't believe me.
2 Thessalonians 2:7 (KJV) - "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."
He who letteth. That's a fancy King James way of referring to the Holy Spirit. AKA, The restrainer. Now, think about this. If the Holy Spirit is in every believer, how can He be taken out of the way to allow the Anti-Christ, who is released in the first seal, have free reign on the Earth? The only way is if every believer is taken off the planet, and the only way that'll happen is if the rapture (the harpazo) happens BEFORE the start of the Tribulation and the seal judgments. So yeah, the rapture comes first, it's BEFORE the Tribulation, and BEFORE the seals.
The bible states that very clearly. There's also one last thing for you to look at and you can do this of your own volition. Read through Revelation and take note of something very, very important. Verses 1-3 are clearly Church (the Eclesia, aka called out ones) focused. But take a look at verse 4 and onward. For anyone who knows their Old Testament, the book suddenly takes on a VERY Jewish tone. Why? Because at the beginning of chapter 4 the Church is raptured out and now, as was God's plan all along, all of the remainder of history now focuses on Israel and her redemption.
So anyhow, I hope that clears things up. And, for those who weren't paying attention, I'll summarize everything in one real quick statement. The Rapture is pre-trib, we (the church) ARE NOT going into the Tribulation, nor are we currently experiencing the seven seals of Revelation. Period. This is the sorrows that precede the Tribulation, and not the Tribulation itself, which is the "Great and Mighty Day of the Lord".