Van Kampen [an advocate of the so-called pre-wrath rapture theory] defines only the final quarter of Daniel's 70th week as the only time of God's wrath. He sees the first three quarters as the wrath of man and Satan. But does the Bible make such distinctions? It does not!
Wrath in Zephaniah
Zephaniah 1:14-18 heaps together a cluster of terms that characterize the future Day of the Lord. Verse 14 labels this time as "the great day of the Lord" and "the day of the Lord." Then verse 15-18 describe this time with the following descriptions: "that day is a day of wrath," "a day of trouble and distress," "a day of wasteness and desolation," "a day of darkness and gloominess," "a day of clouds and thick darkness," "a day of the trumpet and alarm," "I will bring distress upon men," and "the day of the Lord's wrath." The context supports the notion that all these descriptives apply to the Day of the Lord. Such biblical usage does not allow an interpreter to chop the Day of the Lord into compartmental segments as Van Kampen insists. The text plainly says that the Day of the Lord is a time of both tribulation and God's wrath. All of the many descriptives in this passage provide a characterization of the Day of the Lord that applies to the entire seven-year period. The Zephaniah passage clearly contradicts the basis upon which Van Kampen attempts to build his recently developed theory. Zephaniah is not alone in providing an obstacle to the Van Kampen speculation.
Wrath in Revelation
Revelation 6:1-17 records the six seal judgments, which are the first reported judgments of the tribulation. Revelation 6 and the seal judgments also contradict the Van Kampen formulation since the Bible describes all six judgments as ". . . the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come . . ." (Rev. 6:16c-17a). Even though Van Kampen cannot recognize God's wrath, the unbelievers at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation will be able to. Revelation 5 reveals that only the Lamb (Christ) was qualified to open the seals that would begin the first judgments of the tribulation. As we connect the dots of Revelation 5 and 6, there is no basis for saying that the events of the seal judgments are somehow disconnected from Scripture's characterization as God's wrath. The following observations about the seal judgments support such a connection:
• The Lamb is the Individual Who breaks, and thus initiates, all six of the seals (Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12) clearly indicating that He (God) is the source of the events or wrath. These are explicit references to the wrath of God, not the wrath of man or Satan as taught by Van Kampen.
• One quarter of the earth's population is killed (Rev. 6:8).
• The fifth seal reveals that multitudes of Christian martyrs are slain as a result of seal activity, which has to be considered the wrath of the Lamb. God allows this to occur when the Lamb breaks the seal in this part of the seal judgments.
• At the end of the six seal judgments an assessment is given as follows: "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6:16-17). "Him that sitteth on the throne" is God the Father as indicated in chapter 4, thus it is clearly God's wrath. It is also the Lamb's wrath (Christ). The passage clearly says "the great day of his wrath is come," meaning that all six of the seal judgments are classified as God's wrath.
Van Kampen attempts to say that the events of the seal judgments are not really "God's" wrath, but the wrath of man. Rosenthal declares, "The word wrath occurs eight times in the book of Revelation. All eight occurrences follow the opening of the sixth seal. The word wrath is never used in connection with the first five seals" (Rosenthal, Pre-Wrath, p. 176).
Rosenthal neglects to tell his readers that Revelation 6:16-17 is a summary statement of all the previous seal judgments. In spite of the Van Kampen claim to follow the plain interpretation of the text (Van Kampen, Rapture Question, p. 23-24.), I believe that Revelation 6:16-17 relates to all six seal judgments for the following reasons:
First, Revelation 6:15-17 is an overall report of the human response to God's judgment as administered through all six seal judgments. A similar evaluation is recorded after the trumpet judgments in Revelation 9:20-21. This argues in favor of associating this report with the preceding seal judgments.
Second, the controlling verb in verse 17, "is come" (lthen), "is aorist indicative, referring to a previous arrival of the wrath, not something that is about to take place" Rosenthal's attempt to say that this verb is a future aorist (Rosenthal, Pre-Wrath, pp. 166-67), cannot be supported by the context. Such contextual support is necessary to adopt his unusual use of the aorist indicative. Further, if a future look were intended by the verb then John most likely would have used the future tense. Such stress and strain in biblical interpretation demonstrates the forced notion that Van Kampen's new invention is not the product of sound biblical exegesis.
Third, Revelation 5 narrates a heavenly scene of Christ pictured as a slain, but victorious Lamb. The Lamb is pictured as worthy to open the seals on a scroll, which result in judgment-the judgment described in the succeeding chapter as the seal judgments. In chapter 6, each one of the seal judgments commences as a result of the Lamb's breaking of each seal (Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12). Since all six seal judgments begin the same way, with the breaking of the seal by the Lamb, one should not be at all surprised that Revelation 6:16-17 summarizes all six judgments as "the wrath of the Lamb," and "the great day of his wrath." This cannot be the wrath of man or Satan.
The above information provides ample biblical proof that all six seal judgments are the wrath of God (Lamb).
Since all six seal judgments are designated in Scripture as God's wrath it means that the entire 70th week of Daniel is called the wrath of God in Revelation 6.
Therefore, this passage does not support the Van Kampen interpretation. Since the church is promised deliverance from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9, 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9, and Rev. 3:10), it is clear in light of Revelation 6 that the church will be raptured before the seventieth week of Daniel.