A few weeks back Gary Stearman host of Prophecy Watchers interviewed pretrib teacher Billy Crone about his book on the seals of Revelation where Crone takes the typical pretrib interpretation that the seals are part of the day of the Lord’s wrath. (I have written a refutation to Crone on his flawed interpretation of the seals and responded to him on other issues). Billy Crone is Gary Stearman’s go-to pretrib rapture guy.
Fast forward to this week when Stearman had pretrib author Bill Salus on his program talking about his new book The Next Prophecies (see video below). I have not read his book so I am going from what he said in the Prophecy Watchers program.
This was interesting to watch for the following reasons.
First, Salus thinks most, at least the first five seals do not occur during the seven-year “tribulation period,” so they are not part of the day of the Lord’s wrath. This point is anathema to Billy Crone, because Crone places his entire pretrib view on the “fact” that the seals are expressions of the day of the Lord’s wrath during the seven-year period.
Second, I do not know if Salus has read my book Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord, but it sure sounds like he agrees with me on key points. For example, in the video below you can hear him talk about how he thinks the first seal represents the Antichrist in his unrevealed arrival upon the world’s scene as he politically positions himself before he is revealed as the Antichrist. I stressed this point in my book. But there is more.
Third, from what it sounds like from the interview, Salus places at least the first five seals happening before the seven-year period happens. He does not think they are part of the day of the Lord’s wrath. Keep in mind he still has certain pretrib presuppositions, such as imminence, and he thinks the entire seven-year period is God’s wrath. But, he is at least recognizing that it is problematic to claim that the first five seals are part of the day of the Lord’s wrath. So rather than Salus doing exegetical acrobatics trying to argue that the first five seals are part of the day of the Lord’s wrath, he places them outside of the seven-year period in his own pretrib schema. For me that is encouraging, not because I agree with him that they occur before the seven-year period (though in my book I mention that I allow for the possibility that the first three seals, which I view as the beginning of birth pangs, could happen just before the seven-year period), but that he is recognizing that they are not expressions of the day of the Lord’s wrath.
Fourth, and I am glad (and surprised) he made this point on the show (at 14:38 below), where he completely contradicts Billy Crone on the fourth seal. Salus made Stearman read the passage and then noted that it does not say a fourth of the world is killed! He said that it only states that there is authority over a fourth. A huge difference: “They were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill its population with the sword, famine, and disease, and by the wild animals of the earth” (Rev 6:8).
He says more about it, which is exactly what I say in my book on page 50. As Salus was making this excellent point, Stearman appeared a bit frazzled by what he was saying and cut him off at 16:12 below before he could complete his reasoning. Salus was refuting Stearman’s go-to rapture guy Crone, so it makes sense why he did not allow him to continue on this point, unfortunately. But I am glad that Salus was able to make his main point so listeners of Prophecy Watchers could learn about the biblical truth on this point that Billy Crone twists.
Fifth, Salus recognizes, unlike Crone, that you cannot have the fifth seal martyrs experience God’s wrath because that would contradict God’s promise that no believer will experience his day of the Lord’s wrath (1 Thess 5:9). There are many ways in which pretribs try to resolve this contradiction within their system, which never works. I have to give Salus credit though because he does not try to explain away how Christians are experiencing the day of the Lord’s wrath under the fifth seal during the seven-year period. What he does, however, is remove the fifth seal from the seven-year period all together and claim that it will be fulfilled before the seven-year period. Of course that is not a natural reading of the text; if he would just recognize that the great tribulation begins at the midpoint and that it is not the same event as the day of the Lord’s wrath, then he would not have to remove the fifth seal from the seven-year period. This presupposition of his leads me to my final point.
Sixth, here is the problem with Salus’s position. He disconnects the rapture from the seven-year period and places these seals and other prophecies during a “gap” of time before the rapture happens and before the seven-year period begins. Salus’s pretrib presupposition of imminence causes him to do this. I just wrote on this point yesterday where he and other pretribs create a whole new dispensation between the rapture which concludes the church age dispensation and the seven-year period dispensation. This is a perfect illustration of the flawed presupposition of not allowing any prophesied events to occur before the rapture.
In short, Bill Salus is beginning to get it by borrowing from some prewrath views, and I appreciate that he is challenging wrong-headed traditional pretrib views such as those held by Billy Crone. But his pretrib presupposition of imminence prevents him from having a consistent eschatological framework for these events.
One last observation. When you have two prophecy teachers such as Salus and Crone holding diametrically opposed and contradictory views on the seals, that is very telling of one’s eschatological position. The one exception where they all agree is their belief that the church will be raptured before the Antichrist’s revelation and thereby before the great tribulation—the very tenet that has absolutely no basis in Scripture.