One of the most common reasons Christians are embracing the prewrath position is because of the distinction that is made between the Antichrist’s great tribulation and the day of the Lord’s wrath. Christians will be removed (raptured) from the latter but not the former. This point has caused the light bulb to go off in many pretrib and posttrib’s heads because it has helped them to make sense of the biblical data that has been perplexing for them. For pretribs, they have wrongly identified the two events as the same; for posttribs, many have done the same thing, but for other posttribs they have construed them as two different events but happening at the same time. Prewrath comes along and says, try reading the biblical data within the framework that the Antichrist’s great tribulation is a separate event that happens first, which is followed by the day of the Lord’s wrath. That is the consistent message of the biblical authors: Antichrist’s great tribulation occurs first, ensued then by God’s eschatological wrath.
This is why pretribs often cry foul when they are told by prewrathers that the church will face the Antichrist, because in their mind they have always been taught that the Antichrist’s great tribulation is the day of the Lord’s wrath. They have never been exposed to an alternative understanding. But when they are exposed to prewrath and genuinely consider it, they typically reject pretrib because prewrath makes much better sense of the biblical evidence.
Steve Hays has written something recently concerning suffering in the present church age. I think his post can also speak to the future conception of understanding that God’s purposes during the Antichrist great tribulation will not be to remove the church physically (as he will do for the day of the Lord’s wrath). Rather, God will protect us spiritually in this world and during the Antichrist’s great tribulation. He will protect his elect by persevering their soul in faithfulness to Christ so they will not apostatize to the Antichrist. It’s a helpful piece on the theology of suffering:
“According to John’s Gospel, as I construe it, God doesn’t promise Christians that he will protect us from the world, but that he will protect us in the world. We still have to go through the situation. We must endure the ordeal. The promise is not to protect us from suffering, but to protect us from hell.
I find it useful to visualize that idea. We’re on a journey. And there’s a sense in which we’re traveling on a road that’s partly visible and partly invisible. The journey has visible hazards. And because they’re visible, we can sometimes avoid them.
But the journey also has invisible hazards. We can’t see the danger ahead.
In one sense you might say there are two parallels roads: one heavenbound while the other is hellbound. But it’s more like a maze with many wrong turns and dead-ends. There’s a heavenbound route through the maze as well as many hellbound detours at every turn. Only one way to get to heaven but many alternate routes to hell. God can keep you on the heavenbound road by making the hellbound detours invisible.
In a sense, the maze is hell. By that I mean, if you keep going in circles, if you never escape the maze, then you never get to heaven. To make it to heaven you must make it to the other side of the maze. You must find your way out of the maze.
To vary the metaphor, compare it to night vision goggles. Because humans have poor nocturnal vision, when we don night vision goggles, it opens up a whole world that was there all along, but we don’t normally perceive. That includes hidden dangers–lurking in the shadows.
Dropping the metaphors, the Christian pilgrimage is full of hazards. Some are imperceptible. That includes malevolent spirits.
In addition, the decisions we make depend on our circumstances. One way God keeps us on a heavenbound route is to steer us clear of situations where we’d make a decision with spiritually deleterious consequences. God prearranges the circumstances of our lives so that we don’t take a fatal wrong turn. God providentially protects us, not from suffering, but from failing to cross the finish line.
I’m not saying God never intervenes to spare us from suffering. But that’s not something you can bank on.”