As far as I can determine, nobody, whether pretrib supporter or not, has presented a strong case for any pretrib rapture belief before the 1800’s in any other source. Writer Dave McPherson (MacPherson, 1975) has made a convincing argument for the original pretrib inventor to have been one Margaret McDonald, a fifteen year-old girl, speaking in what was claimed to be a prophetic utterance in 1830. The event was during a revivalist meeting conducted by Edward Irving, a co-founder of the “Catholic Apostolic Church”, known as the “Irvingite” church. This is an extract from McDonald’s “vision”:
” …… it is not known what the sign of the Son of man is; the people of God think they are waiting, but they know not what it is. I felt this needed to be revealed, and that there was great darkness and error about it; but suddenly what it was burst upon me with a glorious light. I saw it was just the Lord himself descending from Heaven with a shout, just the glorified man, even Jesus; but that all must, as Stephen was, be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they might look up, and see the brightness of the Father’s glory. I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but ’tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in his people.
“…… Only those who have the light of God within them will see the sign of his appearance. No need to follow them who say, see here, or see there, for his day shall be as the lightning to those in whom the living Christ is. ‘Tis Christ in us that will lift us up – he is the light – ’tis only those that are alive in him that will be caught up to meet him in the air……………………….”
Judging McDonald’s prophecy
We can see McDonald’s error here. She is interpreting Matthew 24, to say that only the spiritually-minded Christians will be able to see Jesus at His coming described in verse 30-31. It is not, she says, an event to be seen with the natural eye, but only the spiritually minded will see it with the eye of the Spirit. Even quite a superficial reading of Matthew 24 will show that this was not at all what Matthew intended, as we shall see. Wars, rumours of war, famine, persecution, the preaching of the Gospel in all the world, cataclysmic events, then the coming of Jesus with the angels – all are concrete events, told in a straightforward, narrative style which rules out an over-spiritual application. Verse 30: “All the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”. The spiritually-minded Christians will not be mourning at the appearance of Jesus, so it is easy to see that ALL will see Him. This idea is repeated even more explicitly in Revelation 1:7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. We can immediately discard Margaret’s “prophecy” as false because it doesn’t agree with the plain written word of scripture. Added to that is the fact that McDonald prophesied at the same time that a contemporary socialist, Robert Owen, who was a well-known opponent of Christianity praised by Engels, would be the “man of sin”. History has shown that this was another false prophecy. It’s a Bible principle that if a prophecy foretells an event that doesn’t happen, the prophecy is not genuinely from the Lord.
This article is an extract from Robin’s soon to be published book “The Day of the Lord”. You can pre-order the book (which is very helpful to us) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org