The Pre-Mid-and Post Tribulationists


The Pre-Mid-and Post Tribulationists

February 26th, 1984 @ 8:15 AM

Matthew 24:15-21

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 24:15-21

2-26-84    8:15 a.m.


It is a joy for us here in the First Baptist Church of Dallas to welcome the uncounted multitudes of you who share the hour with us on radio.  This is the pastor bringing the message; it is a study out of God’s Word.  Bill Grubbs, who sits next to me here on the platform, who led our invocation, said, “This is certainly a subject concerning which there is so much confusion.”  “Well,” I said to him, “I have been among those who have been confused.”  There is not anything into which I have ever placed more study than I have in the message this morning.  And it came to me very clearly; now it may not be so to many of you who will be listening, especially on the radio, but it has come to me with tremendous clarity and conviction.  And I pray that God will help me make it that clear to you, at least why it is that some of us believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church.

The Bible closes in Revelation 22:20 with the prayer of the apostle John, who saw the apocalyptic vision of our Lord:  “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, surely I come quickly.”  Then his prayer, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].  In the coming of the Lord, we are taught in the Bible that there are two phases of it.  There is a coming for His people.  We learned last Sunday that Jerome translated that “caught up” in the passage you read in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4; he translated rapere, “rapture, caught up” [1 Thessalonians 4:17].  There is a coming for His people [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17].  Then there is an apokalupsis, there is an epiphaneia, there is an outward glorious appearing of our Lord, when the whole earth shall see Him [Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:17].  And between those two is a period of time called the tribulation [Matthew 24:21, 29; Revelation 7:14].

In the development of Christian theology, without exception, every phase of it, every part of it has been developed by controversy and confrontation and conflict.  When you read those long, heavy tomes of doctrine, there’s no doctrine in it that hasn’t been born and bred and realized by tremendous study and conflict and controversy.

For example, in the Bible that you have, the great doctrine of grace came out of Paul’s conflict with the Judaizers, that we’re saved by grace and not by keeping of the law, not by being circumcised and obeying the law of Moses [Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16].  That came out of conflict, what you read in the Bible of our doctrine of grace.  The person of Christ, who He is, came out of the tremendous Christological controversies in those first Christian centuries.  The conflict with Nestorius, and with Arius, and with Eutychus, and with a multitude of others, out of those controversies came the great Christological doctrine of the person of Christ.  As the days passed, Pelagius and Augustine had a controversy over original sin and over supernatural grace.  The days and the years passed, and the Reformation was a tremendous controversy.  Their watch cry was Sola scriptura; not the hierarchy, but the Word of God.  And Martin Luther, and John Calvin, and John Knox, Zwingli and those men brought to us the great scriptural truths around which we preach the gospel today.  As the years passed, controversy concerning predestination and worldwide missions in the days of John Ryland and William Carey and Andrew Fuller opened the door for the great modern worldwide missionary movement.

So in our day, in our time, in our generation, there has come to the fore a tremendous controversy concerning the second coming of Christ.  Not much in these centuries past has there been discussion of the return of our Lord.  Just as it is through all of the story of Christendom and of the Christian church, there are eras when certain doctrines are discussed, so it is in our generation and our day; the discussion of the doctrine of the second coming of Christ.

Now concerning this, as with every other doctrine in the Bible, and as with the Bible itself, there is endless interpretation.  Theologians greatly differ, and they certainly differ over the return of our Lord.  There are several—I’ve listed here about five—theological positions concerning the rapture of our Lord and the tribulation period.  The first one is the pre-rapture tribulationist, the man who believes that the rapture is first [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], then comes the tribulation [2 Thessalonians 2:3].  That doctrine is that Christ may come for His church any minute.  We live in the imminency of the coming of our Lord.  We are caught up first; then follows the bema, where we’re judged [2 Corinthians 5:10]; then follows the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:6-10]; then follows our return with the Lord to this earth [Revelation 19:11-14]; then follows Armageddon, the great battle of Armageddon, that closes the tribulation period [Revelation 19:15-21]; then the millennium of our Lord [Revelation 20:1-9]; then after the brief rebellion of Satan [Revelation 20:7-10], then the eternal state, heaven and earth [Revelation 20:1-22:21].  That’s the pre-tribulation rapture; that’s the first position.

There are those who believe in the mid-tribulation rapture, that the first three and one-half years of the tribulation the church will be in it—we shall be in it—then we shall be raptured at the midst of that seven-year period, after the first three and one-half years, just before the beginning of the great tribulation.  They believe that the church will be raptured in the middle of the tribulation period.

There is a third position that believes that the church goes through the tribulation period and is raptured after the tribulation period is closed.  There is one great text that these post-tribulation rapturists cite, and it’s in the Word of our Lord in Mathew 24:29-31: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven . . . and He shall send His angels . . . and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds.”  Now they say plainly there, the Lord says first the tribulation, then God shall gather His elect from the four corners of the earth.  The answer to that, to me, is very plain:  the elect that are going to be gathered after the tribulation are the tribulation saints, the sealed and converted Jews and their Gentile converts [Revelation 7:3-4]. 

The tribulation period concerns Daniel’s seventieth week, the last week [Daniel 9:27]; concerns the time of Jacob’s trouble, referred to in Jeremiah 30:7, and Israel’s deliverance from it.  After the rapture of the church [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], and after the tribulation [Revelation 6:1-19:21], these tribulation saints are resurrected from the dead, as is plainly stated in Revelation chapter 20:4-5.  They’ll not be left in a martyr’s grave, not one of them.  There will not be a bone in the region of death; there’ll not be a relic for Satan or Antichrist to gloat over.  Those elect that are going to be taken up, resurrected after the tribulation are the tribulation saints [Revelation 20:4-5]: it is not the church.

There are those who believe in a partial rapture; that is, only the deeply spiritual people are going to be raptured, and the rest of the carnal Christians are going to be left here in this earth to suffer the plagues and the judgments with an unbelieving world.  Now, that looks very plausible.  These carnal Christians, are they going to be raptured up to Jesus?  No, they’re going to be left behind to suffer before they are taken up to the Lord.  But 1 Corinthians 15:51 says, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”; not “some of us are going to be changed,” “all of us are going to be changed.”  The Scripture plainly says that.  Actually, not one of us is worthy to be raptured up to the Lord Jesus.  We are saved, no matter who we are, only by the grace of God [Ephesians 2:8-9].  If we go through the tribulation in order to be raptured up to Jesus, then salvation is no longer a work of grace, it’s a work of us, it’s a work of our suffering.  But we’re told in the Bible that Jesus suffered for us [1 Peter 3:18]; and we may be very unworthy, but we are still children of the great King.   And the Scripture plainly says, “We shall all be changed”; we shall all be raptured, whether we’re worthy or not [1 Corinthians 15:51].

Then the fifth position is there is no rapture at all.  “These are those half-infidels” I call them—they don’t believe the Bible, they don’t believe the deity of Christ, they don’t believe His virgin birth, they don’t believe in any rapture, they don’t believe in any millennium, they don’t believe in any resurrection from the dead, they don’t believe anything.  They sometimes will pull out the Ten Commandments and say, “We believe that, maybe.”  They pull out the Golden Rule and say, “Maybe we believe that.”  Actually, it’s just according to their whim at the time they are writing or speaking as to whether they believe any of the Bible at all.  Now, we’re not even going to consider people like that.  People like that leave untouched the great mass of the Holy Scriptures.  We believe all of it, from beginning to ending, and as such we study it to see what God has to say to us.

Now all of that is introductory.  We’ve now come to the message.  There are fourteen reasons why I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture; that we’re going to be raptured, we’re going to be caught up to God in heaven, the church is going to be received to Jesus before the tribulation.  There are fourteen reasons that I have written here for the pre-tribulation rapture of the church.

Number one: because of the outline of the Apocalypse, the Revelation; the outline of the Revelation is by inspiration, it’s by the Holy Spirit of God [Revelation 1:10].  It is found in Revelation 1:19.  In the first chapter and the nineteenth verse is the outline of the Revelation.  It reads this: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be meta tauta, after these things.”  So what John did was exactly that.  He wrote the things which he had seen: that’s Revelation 1, the vision of the exalted Christ [Revelation 1:10-18, 20].  Then he wrote the things which are, Revelation 2 and 3, chapters 2 and 3, the churches, the churches are; this is the church age [Revelation 2:1-3:22].  We live in the day of grace under the Holy Spirit.  Then he was to write the things meta tauta, the things after these things; the things after the day of the church [Revelation 1:19].  Now I’m looking for that meta tauta; that will be the third great outline in the Revelation, the third one.  And I find it in the fourth chapter of the Revelation, the first verse:  “After these things, meta tauta,” after the day of the churches, “After these things I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard, said, Come up hither” [Revelation 4:1], after which the church disappears.  It’s not referred to, it’s not seen, it’s not mentioned until we see the church coming with her Lord in glory, in the nineteenth chapter of the Apocalypse [Revelation 19:11-14].  So the first reason I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture is the outline of the Revelation plainly presents it.  The church is first raptured [Revelation 4:1-2], then comes the tribulation [Revelation 6:1-19:21].

The second reason I believe in the pre-tribulation, in the before-the-tribulation rapture of the church, is because of Daniel’s seventieth week [Daniel 9:27].  Daniel’s seventieth week is Revelation, 4-19.  The tribulation period concerns Israel, not the church [Jeremiah 30:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4].  In Daniel 9:24, the angel Gabriel said to Daniel, quote, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.”  Then the prophecy proceeds to speak of Jerusalem, the cutting off of the Messiah, the coming of the Antichrist, and the final week of desolation and tragedy [Daniel 9:25-27].  The time period is divided by Daniel into two parts: this period of the tribulation, right in the middle of it, three and one-half years on one side, three and one-half years on the other side [Daniel 9:27].  In Daniel 7:25 it’s called “a time times and the dividing of time.”  In Daniel 12:7 it’s called “a time, and times, and half a time.”  That great final week of the tribulation is divided by Daniel into those two parts.  Now you find that exact thing in the Revelation.  In the Revelation, the tribulation is divided into those two parts.  In Revelation 11:2 it’s called “forty-two months”; in Revelation 11:3 and Revelation 12:6, it’s called “one thousand two hundred sixty days.”  In Revelation 12:14 it’s called “a time, and times, and half a time,” the exact thing that you find in Daniel, the exact thing you find in the Revelation.  And Daniel tells us that that tribulation concerns the people of the family to which he belonged, Israel, and the holy city, Jerusalem [Daniel 9:27].

All right, number three: why I believe that the church will be raptured before the tribulation.  The rapture is sign-i-fied [Revelation 4:1].  And you know, I’ve often thought, in the first verse of the first chapter of the Revelation, if you were to pronounce that word, “And the angel sent and sign-i-fied it to John” [Revelation 1:4], why, you wouldn’t have much trouble with it.  Trouble with us is we pronounce it “signified.”  “He sent and He signified it” [Revelation 1:4], so you lose the “sign” part of it.  The Apocalypse was given to John by tremendous signs.  Oh, just the whole thing, one thing after another.  The Lamb of God [Revelation 5:6], that’s a sign; He is not an actual lamb, it’s a sign, so on and on and on.

Well, anyway, the rapture was sign-i-fied to the apostle John; that is, it was pictured; he saw it in great panoramic, dramatic pictures.  So you have a sign, a picture, in Revelation 4:1, “I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and I heard a voice as it were of a trumpet, which said, Come up hither.”  At that moment the church disappears and is seen again only when Christ comes in the nineteenth chapter of the Apocalypse [Revelation 19:11-14].  There is no rapture mentioned between that fourth chapter and the first verse, and the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation.  The reason is very plain:  the church is raptured in that picture, in that sign.  “I looked, and I saw a door opened, and a voice said, Come up hither” [Revelation 4:1].  And that is a picture of the rapture, the catching up, the translation of the church; and then the church is not seen till she comes with her Lord in chapter 19 [Revelation 19:14].

Now in that interval between the time that the church is raptured up to the Lord [Revelation 4:1], and the time she comes back in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation [Revelation 19:11-14], in that interval is the bēma, the great judgment seat where all of us receive our rewards [2 Corinthians 5:10], and the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:6-10].  And when the saints return with Christ to this earth, in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, they have their white robes of reward [Revelation 19:14].  All of that has happened up there when we’ve been raptured, while the earth down here is in agony and tribulation [Revelation 6:1-19:14].

All right, the fourth reason why I believe that the rapture is before the tribulation:  in Revelation 4:4 and 10, before the tribulation—before the tribulation, we see the four and twenty elders seated on their thrones, robed and crowned.  These are the resurrected, raptured saints of God.  That’s the sign, that’s the picture in the Book of the Revelation of God’s risen, resurrected, raptured saints.  And in the fourth chapter, after the door was opened in heaven, and after the voice says, “Come up hither” [Revelation 4:1], then you see those four and twenty elders, God’s raptured saints, seated, robed, and crowned [Revelation 4:4, 10-11].

The fifth reason why I believe the rapture is before the tribulation:  the tribulation is called in Revelation 6:17 “the great day of His wrath”; but in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul says, “Jesus hath delivered us from the wrath to come.”  And in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 Paul writes, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”  And if the tribulation is “the great day of God’s wrath” [Revelation 6:17], then Paul says we are not going to experience it because the Lord has delivered us from it [1 Thessalonians 1:10].  He expressly says that.

All right, the sixth reason why I believe the church is raptured before the tribulation:  the promise of Christ to the Philadelphian church was a deliverance from the peirasmos, peirasmos, the trial, the tribulation, the agony, the calamity, the adversity that should come upon the whole earth.  He promised that to the church.  Revelation 3:7:  “And to the angel of the church at Philadelphia write . . .I know thy works:  behold, I have set before thee an open door,” our rapture before the tribulation . . . “because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of peirasmos,”  the hour of calamity, and tribulation, and trial, and adversity, “I will keep thee from it, which shall come upon all the world,” which shall peirazō, “which shall try,” which shall calamitize, “which shall overwhelm them that dwell upon the earth” [Revelation 3:7-10].

The church of our Lord Jesus Christ is not destined for tribulation, but for heaven [John 14:2-3; Revelation 21:1-3].  We’re not going through those awful agonies; God has promised to deliver us from them [1 Thessalonians 5:9].

All right, number seven, why I believe that the church is raptured before the tribulation:  the rapture belongs to the believing church as her reward; the tribulation belongs to the unbelieving world as its retribution [1 Thessalonians 5:2-11; Revelation 9:21, 16:11].  God hasn’t destined for us such calamitous times; God destines for us a deliverance from them.

Number eight, why I believe that the church is raptured before the tribulation:  God does not and cannot begin the terrible plagues of the tribulation until we are safely in heaven.  One picture, in Genesis 7:1: “And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark.”  God did not, and God could not pour out His wrathful judgment upon the antediluvian civilization until first Noah and his righteous family were safely inside the ark [Genesis 7:23].  Number two picture:  in Genesis 19:22, “The angel says to Lot, Haste thou, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither.”  God could not rain fire and brimstone upon Sodom until Lot and his family were safely out of that terrible city [Genesis 19:24-29].  It’s a picture. God cannot bring tribulation upon this earth until His people are out of it.

A third picture:  [Exodus] 11:4:


At midnight will the Lord go out into the midst of Egypt: and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die . . . And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt . . . but against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue . . . that ye may know that the Lord hath put a difference between the Egyptians and the Israelites.

[Exodus 11:4-7]


If God treats us all alike in the tribulation, He is not like anything we’ve ever known of the Lord before.  God did not send the death angel over Egypt until Israel was safely under the atoning blood [Exodus 12:7, 13, 23].  Then [Exodus] 12:41 reads, “And it came to pass at the end of four hundred thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”  God cannot, does not, ever does not, God doesn’t treat His sainted people as He treats the unbelieving world.  He puts a difference between them.

Number nine, why I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church:  the Holy Spirit, whose temple, whose house is in the hearts of His people [1 Corinthians 6:19-20], and in the assembly of the church [1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16], must be removed before Antichrist can achieve his goals and purposes.  In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “And now the Restrainer, kateichon,katechō means “to hold down, to repress, to restrain,” so ho kateichon refers to somebody who is restraining, who is holding back. “And now the Restrainer restrains until He be taken out of the way.”  And in verse 8, “Then when He is taken out of the way, shall that”—in chapter 2:3, he’s called “the man of sin, the son of perdition” [2 Thessalonians 2:3], here he is called anomos, “the lawless one” [2 Thessalonians 2:8], the one who doesn’t obey what is right.  “Then shall that Antichrist be revealed, whom the Lord shall destroy with the epiphaneia, with His parousia, with the brightness of His coming” [2 Thessalonians 2:8].  As long as the church is in this world, Paul is saying, the Antichrist cannot come.  Because the church, the temple of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16], is taken away, the Antichrist has little trouble setting up his kingdom in the tribulation period.  In 2 Thessalonians 2:10, “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie.”  And when Antichrist comes, he is readily received by the whole world [Revelation 17:13].

You see an exact picture of that in the sixth chapter of the Book of the Revelation at the opening of the seals.  When the first seal is opened, there appears a white horse; and he that sits upon it goes out conquering and to conquer.  Who is that?  That is the Antichrist [Revelation 6:1-2].  Man, the whole world receives him.  I think, as you read the Bible, it becomes very apparent why the whole world receives him: the world is in such desperate condition, there’s not any hope, there’s not any way out, and they receive this man who says, “You follow me, and I will bring to you peace and victory and prosperity.”  That is the opening of the first seal.  You know, I used to wonder at that—how in the earth could such a thing as that ever be?—until I talked to this man Kerstan, that went around with you, Reinhold Kerstan.  And did you know that young fellow—and I never met a man that was more intelligent that he; he’s an executive with the Baptist World Alliance and is helping us with our choir tour through East Germany.  I never met a man that was more intelligent and aware than Reinhold Kerstan.  And did you know, when he grew up as a boy, he looked upon Hitler as God!  Why, I couldn’t believe such a thing.  This, the most intelligent man, as intelligent a man as you’ll ever meet in the world, grew up a member of Hitler’s youth and believed that he was God, what he said was infallible, and what he was going to do was from heaven itself.  And Nazi Germany was that way by the millions and the millions and almost conquered the world.  Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when the world becomes a cesspool of corruption and a dismal aggregate of hopelessness, and here comes a man, “you follow me and I will lead you to the heights of glory.”  They will follow him.  That’s what the Bible says.

  Now that first seal is the Antichrist.  Then he’s followed by the red horse of murder and war [Revelation 6:3-4], and then he’s followed by the black horse of famine and disaster [Revelation 6:5-6].  And he is followed in the fourth seal by the pale horse of death and the grave [Revelation 6:1-8].  Now all of that is going to happen when the Holy Spirit in the temple, in the assembly of God [1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16], is taken out of the earth [2 Thessalonians 2:7-8].  But the Holy Spirit and the assembly of God has to be taken out before the Antichrist could be accepted [2 Thessalonians 2:6-12].  As long as we’re in this world, you’re not going to have Antichrist [1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19], but when we’re taken out, the whole world will accept him [Revelation 17:13].

Number ten, why I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church:  the coming of the Lord for His church is unknown; the rapture is unannounced and unheralded.  Only God the Father knows; that’s what Jesus said [Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32].  The people of Noah’s day didn’t know of the Flood until it came [Genesis 7:17-23].  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t know of the terrible burst of fire and brimstone until it happened [Genesis 19:24-29].  And the people of the earth will not know until the church be raptured away [2 Thessalonians 2:7-8].  Now the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is like the coming of a thief in the night; that’s said in Luke [12:39-40], in 1 Thessalonians [5:2-4], in 2 Peter [3:10], twice in the Revelation [3:3; 16:15].  No one knows or suspects when He is coming.  He is coming to steal away His jewels, His pearl of price [Matthew 13:45-46]—He died for you [1 Corinthians 15:3; Revelation 5:9].

Now if Christ comes after the tribulation for His church, it will be with no surprise.  Good night alive, the tribulation is a well-defined, definite period of time.

  • For one thing, the Jews are already gathered back in Israel.  Because of a worldwide persecution against the Jews, they’ll have to go back to Israel if they’re going to live [Isaiah 11:11-12; Ezekiel 36:24-28].
  • Number two, the temple is built.  You’re going to see the temple rebuilt there in the tribulation [2 Thessalonians 2:4].
  • Number three, Antichrist makes a covenant with the Jewish nation [Daniel 9:27].  Boy, he’s going to bring peace to the world [1 Thessalonians 5:3].
  • Number four, after three and one-half years, in the middle of that week, he’s going to break the covenant [Daniel 9:27].
  • Number [five]: he’s going to present himself as God, and he’s going to sit in that temple of Jerusalem as God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
  • [Number six] Now this abomination and desolation, spoken of by Daniel one, two, three times [Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11], and by Jesus in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew [Matthew 24:15], the apocalyptic discourse, he sets himself up in that Holy of Holies as God of the world.
  • Number seven; he is supported by the world religious system, which is described in Revelation 17 as “the scarlet harlot” [Revelation 17:4-5].
  • And number eight, the terrible plagues and judgments of Almighty God fall upon the earth [Revelation 6:1-16:21].
  • Number nine, the awesome battle of Armageddon is fought [Revelation 16:14, 16, 19:17-21].
  • And number ten, the king of the East is there with two hundred [million] men [Revelation 9:17-21].

Now I tell you, if Jesus comes for His church after the tribulation, all of these signs will come to pass.  And anybody that reads the Bible will know them.

But the Lord is coming for His people as a thief in the night [Matthew 24:36, 4, 25:13; Luke 12:39-40], there is absolutely no meaning to that at all if He comes after all of those signs that are given to us in the tribulation.  His coming for us is unknown; it’s a secret.


  • Number eleven:  we are to live in the imminency of the coming of Christ [Philippians 3:20].  He may come a thousand years from now, He may come before this sentence is finished; the apostles lived like that, the first churches were taught like that, and we are to live like that.  We are to wait for our Lord [Titus 2:12-13].
  • Number twelve:  we are to wait expectantly for the coming of our Lord [1 Thessalonians 1:10; John 14:1-3].  I don’t have time to speak of this.


There’s a King and a Captain high,

Who will be coming by and by;

And He’ll find me hoeing cotton when He comes—

this is a response of a tenant farmer—

You will hear His legions charging in the thunders of the sky;

And He’ll find me hoeing cotton when He comes.

When He comes!

When He comes!

All the dead will rise, in answer to His drums.

While the fires of His encampment star the firmament on high;

And the heavens are rolled asunder, when He comes.

There’s a Man they thrust aside,

Who they tortured till He died;

And He’ll find me hoeing cotton when He comes.

He was hated and rejected;

He was scourged and crucified;

But He’ll find me hoeing cotton when He comes.

When He comes!

When He comes!

He’ll be ringed with saints and angels when He comes;

There’ll be shouting and hosannas to the Man that men denied;

And I’ll kneel among my cotton—

When He comes!

[“When He Comes,” French E. Oliver, 1921]


We’re to be like that, this tenant hoeing cotton: I, pastoring this church; you in your separate assignments; the housewife, doing her work at home, mother the children, rearing the children; all of us in all of our separate assignments.  We’re working, we’re busy, and some day He will come.  Don’t know when; we’re not supposed to know.  We’re just ready, anytime, any moment, when He comes.  That’s why John closes the Revelation, “Even so, Lord, if I know my heart, I’m ready, come, come” [Revelation 22:20].

Now on the first note of our first stanza, God bless you, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, the Lord gave His life for you.  Had there been no one else in the world, He would have given His life for you [1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 2:8].  “This is God’s day for me, pastor, and I’m on the way.”  On the first note of the first stanza, come.  God bless you as you answer with your life.  “Pastor, this is my family; we’re all coming today.”  Just a couple, you and your wife, you and a friend, or just you: “Today, pastor, is my day to give my life anew to the Lord.  I’ve prayed it through; I’m ready.”  As God shall speak the word, may the angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.  “Here I am, pastor, here I am.”