Daniel 9:24-27

December 30, 2008



The Movement and Men behind Today’s Rapture Teachings!

What do you believe about the rapture and the tribulation period?

Today, many of the believers on this earth have a fixed set of beliefs on the subject, but have never examined the movement or the men who brought in what they believe. I hope that, whatever you believe about the rapture, you will check out what I am presenting in this Update.

The Great Evangelical Movement began in the 1730’s, and John Wesley was the first great man associated with it when he was converted in 1738, coming out of

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the Church of England to become a part of the movement. I have not been able to find the pre-tribulation rapture position presented in any printed publication from the invention of the printing press in 1455 to 1740. So how did this position come to be today

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st popular position on the rapture in relation to the tribulation period and initial appearance of the antichrist?

The first man who lived during this movement to introduce a similar teaching on the rapture was Morgan Edwards, who wrote an essay on it between 1742 and 1744, but said he taught it as early as 1740. Edwards was pastor in four churches after that in Ireland,

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England, and America before the book was finally published in 1788.

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The book was published in 1788 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In reality, Morgan’s book does not teach the rapture occurring before a seven year period made up of the seven years of Daniel’s 70th week, but rather a rapture that occurs 1260 days before Christ’s Second Advent, which really makes Morgan Edwards someone who would be labeled a “Mid-Tribber” today. So, the Evangelical Movement began in the 1730’s and he was the first man who began what led to

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the popular rapture teachings of today. At the time Edwards wrote his book there was no teaching that the antichrist was the “HE” who would come and fulfill the covenant of the last week of Daniel 9:27. But there was a teaching that Christ had already fulfilled the first half the 70th week, which would have opened the door for a teaching the antichrist could come to close out the last half of the week, only to be destroyed by the Second Advent of Christ. This could explain why Edwards did not have his rapture occurring seven years before the Second Advent, but rather 1260 days before it. He placed the rapture 1260 days before the Millennial Reign, not 2520 days, as does the Pre-Trib position. Actually, the 1788 published book was more of an essay published in “book” format from what Edwards had written between 1742 and 1744. It is quite possible he simply used Revelation 12:6 as the 1260 days that was to follow his rapture.

Revelation 12:6 – And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

I knew the Pre-Trib Rapture did not originate with John Darby or with Margaret McDonald, because I found traces of it among some of the “Brethren” in Ireland before 1827, so I waited until I could discover the origin of the traces. I found the origin in Morgan Edwards, who was ordained to the ministry in Cork, Ireland on June 1, 1757. Darby, McDonald, and Edwards all had their influence during the time of the Great Evangelical Movement that began in the 1730’s and thereafter swept its religious fever across the world. The religious zeal of the movement today is still going strong in organizations led by many strong leaders pumping huge financial assets into mass media activity. Millions of individual contributors send their offerings to provide funding for the leader and the organization he or she heads.

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So, for all these reasons, I am going to give a brief history of Morgan Edwards, even though today he may well have believed the first three and one-half years of Daniel’s week had already been fulfilled by Jesus or Antiochus Epiphanes, which was what was taught by the vast majority of preachers at that time.

The clergyman, Morgan Edwards., was born May 9, 1722 in Trevethin parish, Wales. He was educated at Bristol College in England from 1742 to 1744 where he wrote the essay of his views on prophecy in his eschatology class, which was later published in Philadelphia in 1788 under a long title: “Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following titles – Millennium, Last Novelities.” He was ordained to the ministry in Cork, Ireland on June 1, June 1757. He came to America in 1761 and became pastor of a Baptist church in Philadelphia. Morgan resigned from the church in 1770, and never pastored thereafter, but continued to travel widely as an evangelist and lecturer. He is credited as being the founder of Rhode Island College, which is known today as Brown University. He was active in obtaining funds for the permanent support of the institution, and was one of its fellows from 1764 until 1789. He died in Pencador, Delaware in 1795. Does published evidence exist that the Pre-Trib rapture position was taught before 1740? Could be! And I will keep looking for such publications. However, at this point, all evidence I have found indicates it came out of the Evangelical Movement that began in the 1730s, and that Morgan Edwards, who would be labeled as a “Mid-Tribber today”, was the father of it.

Morgan Edward’s new teaching did not initially gain acceptance when he began to teach it in 1740, but some 87 years later, and some 39 years after his essay was published in 1788 in America, and as the “Brethren” movement grew in the United Kingdom, John Darby began the process of popularizing a modified version of it across England in 1827. His greatest barrier to break through was history, because he knew it had not been taught before 1740. Darby wrote into the doctrinal platform of the “Brethren” one innovation which still marks the “first of the week” distinctive today – a resistance against the lack of evidence it was taught before 1740. In his book, “Prophecy and the Church,” Allis quotes Darby as having said: “I do not want history to tell me Nineveh or Babylon or Jerusalem is in the hands of the Gentiles. I do not admit history to be, in any sense, necessary to the understanding of prophecy.” Please read the last paragraph in this Blog for a fuller explanation as to why Darby would naturally have disliked what was historically taught before “The Great Evangelical Movement.”

The man, who brought what is known today as the Pre-Trib rapture to the forefront of nineteenth century prophetic teaching, was John Darby of England who, in 1827, led the initial period of its popularity rise in England and then in the United States. Both Morgan and Darby lived and taught in the first 100 years of the Great Evangelical Movement. This movement swept into America in the nineteenth century and began to change the prophetic teachings that came over with the settlers of the eighteenth century. It was a time of movements and men, and the local churches were caught up in its fever and prophetic teachings. Today we see the local churches relegated to obscurity – it is a time of great men and great movements on the mass media networks of the world – and they are offering their prophetic teachings on the great media. – Great men and great organizations and great ministries and great results, but the things they teach about the rapture and Daniel 9:27 were not printed before 1740, as far as I have found in my research.

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Is what they teach on prophecy correct? It is your call! And every person should make up their own mind.

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But very few ever study it out for themselves. They approach the Scriptures with pre-conceived ideas from these great evangelical men and mold the Scripture into what they were taught by them, rather than letting their own study of the Scriptures mold what they believe. This generation is a generation led by great religious organizations and the great religious men who lead them.

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The age of the teachings of the first local churches is vanishing away. We have become individual followers of the teachings of individual men and women on the mass religious media, who teach and preach to what they believe to be a great universal, invisible church made up of all believers.

II Timothy 4:1-4 – I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Now, just suppose that I find a published document, dated prior to 1740 that teaches a Pre-Trib position existed before 1740. Am I supposed to then cast out all the thousands of the teachings of those who lived from the time of the completion of the New Testament until 1740, and put all my faith in that one lone teaching of a Pre-Trib position, that none of them ever heard of, or even thought of? Again, the call is yours! But I implore you to at least consider what you have read, and to be prepared in case the Pre-Trib rapture position is not correct. Jesus is coming – that is certain!

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When he is coming in regard to the tribulation period is not! So, I just get up every day hoping it will be the day of his coming. I have been advised by some I cannot do that if I am not a Pre-Tribber. Why not? I may not be correct about when I believe the rapture will occur in reference to the tribulation period. Is it not also possible you may not be correct in the position you hold? So, until the issue is finally settled by Jesus, why don’t we all teach what we believe about it, and do what Jesus said to do regarding his coming.

Mark 13:35-37 – Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: [36] Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. [37] And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

John Wesley, Morgan Edwards, and John Darby were three of the great men who lived during the first 100 years of what has come to be called The Great Evangelical Movement.

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The first trickling out of the local churches in the United Kingdom began in the late 1730’s, and slowly increased thereafter. After 1827 the trickling became a great flood, with many pulling out of the local churches in England and across Europe into movements led by men. These movements accelerated the growth of the concept of a universal church made up of all believers. The great Evangelical Movement swept across the United States after 1827 and literally engulfed it after the publication of Scofield’s Bible in 1909. The prophecy teachings on the first of the week rapture, brought in by the Evangelical Movement, began to penetrate into local churches around the world quite noticeably after 1850, and within 100 years it virtually became a doctrinal position in many local churches, and some began to consider those who believed otherwise to be heretics. People did not have to come out of a local church into some movement to hear it. It had become the most popular teaching in the local churches by 1912. In fact many of the present local denominational and non-denominational churches came into existence during the Great Evangelical Movement, being organized by men who came out of this movement that began in the 1730’s.

One of the great men of the Great Evangelical Age, which is in full swing today, was Dr. Scofield, whose Bible with his footnotes was published in 1909 and became the most widely read in the world. It has influenced more men and women than any other Bible (with its own commentary) than can be realized this side of heaven. What and who influenced what you believe, and have you ever checked out what you believe about the rapture from a historical standpoint? The call as to what you believe is yours, not mine, nor any other man. But I most certainly do try to persuade men, and am acutely aware that I will stand before Jesus to give account of it. And I do indeed hope that my reason for doing this is made manifest to you.

II Corinthians 5:10,11 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. [11] Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Since I have mentioned Dr. Scofield in many of my Archive Prophecy Updates, I should at least give you a brief history of the man. Cyrus Ingersoll Scofield (1843 to 1921) was ordained in Dallas, Texas, October 1883, where he began his ministry as Pastor of the First Congregational Church. He produced the Scofield Reference Bible and the

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Scofield Bible Correspondence Course. His Reference Bible was completed in 1907 and published in 1909. He is one of the “Christian Hero Trading Cards” (#2311) by Ed Reese.

Since I have made several references to John Nelson Darby in previous Updates, it would also be appropriate to include some information about his life. I have chosen to take this extract from the account given by William E. Cox, which follows:


It is impossible to understand fully the dispensational view of eschatology apart from some history of its origin and main spokesmen. Biographers of John Darby refer to him as the father of modern dispensationalism.

Around 1825 many dissenting groups were beginning to pull away from the established churches in different parts of Europe. The three paramount centers seem to have been Dublin, Ireland, and Plymouth and Bristol in England. The leaders of this movement recognized the pen as being “mightier than the sword,” and turned out an abundance of literature publicizing their new beliefs. Darby referred to the church as “the Brethren.” The headquarters for the printing of the Brethren was in Plymouth. Thus, it followed naturally for this new denomination to be called Plymouth Brethren, and the name stuck.

Darby was not the founder of the Brethren movement, although he became its dominant leader and shaped its history. Even though there were many great names associated with the movement, they all were dwarfed, and his name continues in the minds of friend and foe alike. By 1830 he was in complete control of the movement and definitely shaped its dispensational doctrines. That his leadership was unshakable is evident from the fact that, although he made many bitter enemies among the founders of the movement, no man was able to unseat him. Many indeed tried, but themselves were forced either to buckle to Darby or leave the group.

The “father of modern dispensationalism” was born John Nelson Darby in Ireland, in the year 1800, and died in 1882. He was an honor student in Westminster and Trinity College, where he studied law. He was a successful lawyer until the age of twenty-seven, at which time he gave up his law practice to become a curate in the Church of England. He followed this profession until the time he joined the Brethren movement about 1827.

Darby’s biographers say he was eccentric, homely, crippled, and had a deformed face, yet that he possessed a magnetic personality and a keen organizing ability. The man was indefatigable, having been known to travel, it is said, for days while living on acorns. He came from a family background of education, culture, and social standing. He apparently was blessed with a keen mind. William Blair Neatby, who was critical of the movement headed by Darby, described him (A History of the Plymouth Brethren, p. 192) as follows:

‘No doubt Darby had many perfectly intelligible titles to success. His attainments were great and varied, apart from his classic and theological scholarship. He could write and speak in several modern languages, and translated the whole Bible into French and German.’

While convalescing from injuries received when his horse threw him, Darby was convinced of the authority of Scripture and the importance of prophetic teachings. He was especially impressed by the thirty-second chapter of Isaiah, which he referred to as describing “a state of things in no way established as yet.”

In spite of his belief in the authority of the Scriptures, Darby retained some of his old Anglican beliefs. For example, Neatby says of him (ibid., p. 63): “…Darby alone among the earlier Brethren remained a pedobaptist.”

Darby wrote into the doctrinal platform of the Brethren one innovation which still marks the dispensational school today. We refer to his disregard of and actual contempt for history. In his book, Prophecy and the Church, p. 26, Allis quotes Darby as having said:

‘I do not want history to tell me Nineveh or Babylon is ruined or Jerusalem is in the hands of the Gentiles. I do not admit history to be, in any sense, necessary to the understanding of prophecy.’

The Plymouth Brethren, when first organized, had two main distinctives: (1) theirs was an ecumenical movement, and (2) they sought to do away with an ordained clergy and anything which even resembled organization within the local church.

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They were opposed to music or any type of ritual in the church service. Darby’s watchword, according to his biographers, was “the union of the children of God.” The Brethren frowned on ordination as constituting a man-made ministry, and the very word “Brethren” was an attempt to get away from denominationalism.

While the subject of the Lord’s second coming soon came to dominate the dispensational school, it scarcely entered into their thinking at the very first. Their two main starting ecumenicity, and looseness of organization-may be seen from the following quotations.

‘We should come together in all simplicity as disciples, not waiting on any pulpit or ministry, but trusting that the Lord would edify us together, by ministering as He pleased, and saw good from the midst of ourselves (Thomas S. Veitch, ‘The Brethren Movement’).’

‘That ordination of any kind to preach the Gospel is no requirement of Scripture (Neatby).’

Following his break with the Church of England and his joining the Brethren movement, Darby, along with the rest of the Brethren, claimed to have been given many “rediscovered truths.” These alleged truths supposedly had been taught by the apostles, then lost sight of. Even the great Reformers had not known of these doctrines. These “rediscovered truths” were, in fact, the direct opposite of all historic Christian teachings proclaimed by the Reformers and extant commentaries. Notice was given to the world at large that everyone should look on all previous post-apostolic teachings as false, and that only the “rediscovered truths” of the Brethren should be embraced.’


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I had been exposed to what I now believe about Daniel’s 70 weeks of years and the rapture as a young man. I lived in England from 1958 to 1961, which is the land of ancient books commenting about prophecy in countless old book stores and, if they have not diminished in number at the libraries of Oxford and Cambridge, they have thousands of them. After my retirement from the USAF Branch of the National Security Agency, I sat under teachers in the early seventies that I greatly admire. I could tell that two of them, through comments they casually made, knew about the pre-1740 teachings. While in Seminary I never argued with anything that was taught from entrance to graduation. I simply sat still and soaked in as much as I could. I was there to learn, and not to argue or teach – they were the teachers and I was the “teachee.” I still love and respect them all, both dead and living, and am hopeful I cause them no grief by what I teach about Daniel’s 70 Weeks and the rapture.

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I suspect that two of them held positions at least similar to what I believe on the two aforementioned subjects, but may never know this side of heaven if that is true.

I kept waiting for some well-known respected man in our work to issue something about the pre-1740 teachings on the two subjects I have been addressing. I certainly did not want to be the Long Ranger. I am no different from other men – I want to be accepted and loved by the rest of my brethren, and I knew I would be rejected and spurned by many of them if I presented what you have just read in this Blog. So I waited, and waited, and waited, and then waited some more. All this time the Lord kept bothering me about not telling the brethren what I believed, but I knew what would happen if I did, and simply fought him off, with a promise of doing it in the future. I never lied about what I believed, I just refrained from teaching anything about the first three and one half years of peace, and only talked about what the antichrist would do during the last three and one years. I would run my laser pointer up and down across the horizontal length of Clarence Larkin’s two box diagrams, saying, “now that’s where the rapture will occur,” which usually got a laugh. In my books I had the rapture occurring after the opening of the sixth seal, because I really did not know when the seventh trumpet would actually sound in the juxtaposition of the seals and vials. At that time I was not satisfied in the way I had the seals, the trumpets, and the vials aligned and overlapped. I was never satisfied with parts of the diagrams I put in my second book, but did the best I could in making them as compatible as possible in my uncertainty of the seal, trumpet, and vial alignment. I did not come to what I believe to be the proper alignment until about 1992. I passed 70 years of age in 2002, and my conscience, in not revealing what I believed, was eaten down to the quick. I realized at that point I was going to give up and do it, because I knew I would have to face Christ at his judgment seat, and I was aware at age 70 my end was drawing very near. Well, now my conscience is clear with the Lord, and I hope my reason for issuing this 10 Part Series is also clear in your consciences.

II Corinthians 5:11 – Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Tom McElmurry, Pastor, Dardanelle, Arkansas

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