“Well,” I stated Friday morning as we finished breakfast, “how does McComb sound?”
“Let me guess,” Steve replied, “it’s an hour and a half away.”
“Approximately,” I replied.
* * * * *
“Good evening, Amos,” Antoine greeted us that evening as we walked into the church.
“Good evening,” I replied.
“Mr. Short-hand,” Ed stated when he spotted us.
“Well if I’m Mr. Short-hand,” I replied, “you must be Mr. Film, since you’re the ones filming.”
“Could be,” he chuckled.
“So how long have you known shorthand?” Antoine asked.
“A little under a year,” I replied.
“Like David said, that’s a handy skill,” Antoine agreed.
I bit my lip.
“Oh, by the way,” Ed began, “last night you mentioned you were from Kearney. My wife, Emily, came from Grand Island.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yep,” Ed replied, “I picked her up and drug her here.”
“Felicity and I are both from Kearney,” I said.
“Well,” Ed resumed, “I was going to say, Emily and I were talking last night and wanted to ask you if you’d be interested in joining us tomorrow. We were going to go to Biloxi for the day, and thought maybe you’d like to come along.”
I looked at Felicity, who looked at me in surprise.
“Uh, that’s fine with me,” I replied. “If it’s alright.”
“Oh yes,” Ed replied. “Come to our house about seven, we’ll have breakfast. We’ll pack dinner (uh-the noon meal, that is), and head to the beach.”
“We’ll take up all your time and food,” I hesitated.
“Antoine suggested breakfast,” Ed said with a wave of his hand. “We talked about it, and decided he and Anna would handle breakfast; we’ll handle dinner, and you’ll be the guests.”
“All right,” I agreed.
Ed pulled out a business card. “Here,” he said. “This is our address. We’ll look for you around seven, and go from there.”
“Alright,” I agreed. “Thank you so much.”
The prelude began after a couple of minutes, and we scattered to our seats.
The service began as usual, and then Brother Antoine stood up.
“Good evening, everyone,” he began. “It’s good to see all of you here again tonight, especially all of you pastors. I want to speak on 1st Thessalonians 5:9-11. 1st Thessalonians 5:9-11, and my title this evening is ‘Not Appointed to Wrath’.
“‘For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.’
“Today in the church there is yet another view of eschatology,” Brother Miller began. “It is called the Pre-Wrath Rapture view. It was taught by Robert Van Kampen, but the first book on the subject was The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church: A new understanding of the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming by Marvin K. Rosenthal. This 321-page book laid out for the very first time in history the Pre-Wrath view. Later, Kampen wrote his own 500+ page book, The Sign. The Rapture Question Answered Plain and Simple and The Fourth Reich were two other books by Kampen that also supported the view.
“Do any of you here believe this view?” he asked.
No hands were raised.
“Has anyone heard of it before?” he asked next.
Several hands went up.
“The Pre-Wrath view stated the following: The Tribulation will begin who knows when, we could be in it now, for that matter; the Day of the Lord, the Great Tribulation, the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’, and Daniel’s Seventieth Week are not synonymous terms; Israel and the Church are gray areas; Christians must go through the Great Tribulation, etc. The Rapture will occur just before the Day of the Lord, right at the end of the Great Tribulation, or about four to six years into Daniel’s Seventieth Week.
“You see, the Pre-Wrath view says that the whole seven years is Daniel’s Seventieth Week; the Great Tribulation (or ‘the most awesome time on earth’ to use their terms) is when Christians, and only Christians, are persecuted; all that happens, according to this view, is the persecution of believers. This period will be ‘cut short’, to be followed by the ‘Day of the Lord’. I have a chart here I put together—” he proceeded to unfold it—“that explains the Pre-Wrath view.
“Tonight, I want to examine this theory in the light of Scripture.
“First of all,” Brother Antoine began, “the Pre-Wrath view relies heavily on semantics. It claims this term and that term are not synonymous, but rather separate. They claim that the Day of the Lord is not the same as the Great Tribulation. You will not find this in Scripture. The Day of the Lord and the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ refer to the same time period. The Great Tribulation and Jacob’s Trouble are also synonymous terms. How do we know? Well for one thing, Jesus connected Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24; for another thing, the same language and the same descriptions are used to describe these periods. The Bible describes both the Day of the Lord and the Great Tribulation as terrible times.
“Now, as I mentioned, the Pre-Wrath view claims that all that happens during the Great Tribulation, the ‘most awesome time on earth’, is the persecution of believers, or the fifth seal. Folks, persecution of a certain group of people would not, and could not, be the ‘most awesome time on earth’. Persecution is persecution; that’s it.
“The Pre-Wrath view states that the Wrath of God will occur after the Rapture, beginning with the trumpets. The Bible indicates everything is the Wrath of God, not two-thirds of it. Already by the sixth seal they’re saying the ‘great day of his wrath is come’ (Revelation 6:12-17). “
Brother Miller went on, “The Pre-Wrath view believes that the Seal Judgments are Satan’s and man’s wrath against man. That is ridiculous, folks. Satan can do some things; yes, that’s true; but he cannot, repeat, cannot do these catastrophic things described here. And it cannot be some man or a nation, as these are ‘acts of God’ as the insurance companies put it.
“Furthermore,” Brother Antoine continued, “Revelation chapter five says that only Jesus can open the seals. Let’s look at that for a minute—Revelation 5:1-7. Revelation 5:1-7:
“‘And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.’
“Since only Jesus can open it, I should like to see Satan try!” Brother Miller challenged.
“Amen!” someone shouted.
“One more thing and then we’ll close,” Brother Miller stated. “Brother Kurtz mentioned the Restrainer last night. Pre-Wrathers state, ‘Oh, we have the Comforter—the Restrainer is Michael the Archangel!’”
Laughter erupted in the auditorium.
“Actually the Bible indicates that Michael isn’t strong enough to resist the Devil. Only God can,” Brother Miller replied. “Only the Holy Ghost would be strong enough to hold Satan back in this manner.”
“So in conclusion,” Brother Miller stated, “let’s remember that we’re ‘not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.’”