Traditional pretribulationism, along with prewrath, have consistently believed that the rapture and the beginning of the day of the Lord’s wrath will occur back-to-back. The day the rapture happens is the same day that the day of the Lord begins. (To be sure, pretribulationalism locates the rapture before the seven year period begins, while prewrath does not).
Prewrath came along and pointed out the “before the day of the Lord” passages (e.g. Joel 2:29–31; Mal 4:5; 1 Thess 5:3–4; 2 Thess 2:3) and demonstrated that since the Bible teaches that prophesied events will occur before the day of the Lord, then by extension they will occur before the rapture. Therefore, pretribulationism lacks biblical support.
There have been two pretrib responses to this prewrath argument.
1) Many pretribs grasped the validity of the argument and became prewrathers.
2) Many pretribs also grasped the validity of this argument but changed their foundational framework in order to maintain their pretrib view. They created the “gap” theory which creates a new intervening dispensation—days, months, and for some pretrib teachers, years—between the rapture and the day of the Lord’s wrath, which they equate with the seventieth week of Daniel. In this way they maintain their imminence and pretribulationism by locating those ‘before the day of the Lord” prophecies within that gap taking place after the rapture but before the day of the Lord.
The problem is that it does not work. The Bible clearly teaches that the deliverance of the church through the rapture and the beginning of the judgment on the wicked through the day of the Lord’s wrath will occur back-to-back on the same day. There is no intervening period.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum is one of these pretrib teachers who holds to the gap theory. I want to comment on his deeply-flawed defense of it.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes:
“Genesis 7:10 states that the waters of the flood began seven days after Noah entered the ark. . . . The flood did not come the same day that Noah entered the ark . . . Just as there was a period of time between Noah entering the ark and the start of the rain, so there can also be a period of time between the rapture and the start of the seven years.”*
That is not what Genesis 7:10 states. Fruchtenbaum omitted the very next verses, which read:
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month—on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. On that very day Noah entered the ark, accompanied by his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, along with his wife and his sons’ three wives.” (Gen 7:11–13)
Jesus was right after all:
The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. Then people will say to you, ‘Look, there he is!’ or ‘Look, here he is!’ Do not go out or chase after them. For just like the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage—right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:22–27, cf. Gen 7:1–18)
Jesus, of course, knows the flood account better than pretrib teachers: The flood happened “on that very day Noah entered the ark” (Gen 7:13). The deluge began the very day Noah and his family entered the ark and shut the door (Gen 7:1–18). Noah was told that he had seven days to corral the animals because the Lord warned, “in seven days I will cause it to rain” (Gen 7:4). At the end of the seven days “all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened” (Gen 7:11).
It was the same day they entered, the flood began, not two days or five days or seven days later—the very same day.
Drawing from Jesus’s Noahic analogy we can conclude there will not be any intervening period or “gap” of days, weeks, months, or years between the deliverance of the righteous and the unleashing of God’s wrath at Jesus’s return. It will be back-to-back events beginning on the same day—one of the main purposes for delivering God’s people is to protect them from his judgment.
Finally, to make sure Jesus is not misunderstood about this same-day truth, he marshaled the episode of Lot and Sodom (see Luke 17:28–35).
*Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. “Is There a Pre-Wrath Rapture?” In When the Trumpet Sounds, edited by Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, 392.
For more on refuting the pretrib gap theory see: