As I have mentioned in a previous posting, the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13 is a powerful argument against the idea that the rapture will take place before the destruction of the wicked and before the end of the age.
Reese wrote (emphasis mine - SG):
"Returning now to Matthew 13:39, it is certain that, when our Lord says "the harvest is the consummation of the age," He means that the wheat will be gathered and the tares burned at the time of His Coming in glory. This obvious truth, however, overthrows the theory that the saints will be gathered seven or more years before the End of the Age.
But if anything was lacking to refute pre-tribs explanation of the parable, it is found in their treatment of the burning of the tares. The wording of the parable, "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn" (v. 30), and the words of the Lord’s interpretation (vv. 41-43), that professors are gathered for judgment at the same crisis as the transfiguration of the righteous, naturally caused great embarrassment to men who separated them by several years; for it is a favorite feature of the system that the Rapture will be secret, and that mere professors will be ignorant of the Lord’s Coming. How, therefore, could the hard fact of the bundling of the tares at the crisis of the gathering of the wheat be explained to suit the theorists’ system? Nothing was easier; in his Matthew (p. 278), Kelly explained it away altogether. He gravely proposes that the bundling of the tares infers to a mere providential work on the part of the angels, among the ungodly; these will be gathered into "worldly association" some time prior to the Rapture!
Lastly, the pre-trib theory of a rapture some years before the End of the Age is refuted by the closing verse of our Lord’s interpretation: "Then (tote, at that time) shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (v. 43).
Here, as we have already seen, we find that at the very time that the ungodly are rooted out of Christ’s Kingdom and judged, the resurrection and glorification of the righteous take place; for the shining forth of the saints has no reference to a previous concealment of the saints in heaven, but to their transfiguration at the resurrection of the just. Matthew 13:43 is a clear reference to Daniel 12:2-3, which speaks of resurrection.
In view of the hopeless breakdown of Darby’s and Kelly’s interpretation of the Parable of the Tares, it is not to be wondered at that some advocates of the new theories of the Advent should have come to see the need of a new apologetic in reference to it. The exegesis that prevailed for seventy years amongst all the greatest of pre-trib teachers, as well as the rank and file, was seen to be not danger-proof. In particular, it was felt among the new theorists that, if the gathering of the wheat in the parable signified the Rapture of the saints, then the new theories on the Second Coming could not be true; this point was at last clearly seen and admitted. What was to be done, therefore, to save the new doctrine? for the idea of giving up the theories as erroneous seems never to be entertained, such is the obloquy (humiliation) the alternative view inspires. The new plan is simple. It denies that the Parable of the Tares has reference to Christendom; denies that the gathering of the wheat refers to the Rapture of the saints. The parable will have its fulfillment only after the Church has been raptured, when, ex hypothesi, the Jewish Remnant takes up the work of evangelizing the world. Bullinger, with praiseworthy consistency, rules all the parables of Matthew 13 out of court, so far as the Church is concerned. The fact that they were found in one of the Four Gospels precluded any reference to the Church. Had they been written in one of Paul’s Epistles to the Body of Christ the case would have been different.'
The view that Reese refers to is that held by Dispensationalists like J. Dwight Pentecost. It is their favorite tactic to deal with all texts that contradict their pre-trib rapture view by saying that such passages do not apply to any other than to Israel or to the "Jewish Remnant." Such views even lead Dispensationalists to affirm that the whole old testament is only for Jews, that the Gospel of Matthew, especially the sermon on the mount, is not for any other than for the Jews. All this however is ludicrous and I hope to have a series in the new future dealing with these errors of Dispensationalism.
"Other teachers, however, like Gaebelein, in his Matthew, hand over to the Jewish Remnant only such of the parables of Matthew 13 as do not square with their novel theories. The Parables of the Tares and the Drag Net, which are specially inconvenient, are referred to the period, ex hypothesi, between the Rapture and the millennium.
It would take us too far afield to go into these Remnant theories now, and as the whole Remnant hypothesis will come before us on another occasion, the fiction of their supposed preaching had better be deferred as well. One or two remarks for the present will suffice. First, not a word of evidence is produced to support the assertion that the Parable of the Tares belongs to the Remnant. Such a body is not so much as hinted at in the whole course of Matthew 13. The real reason why this Remnant theory is produced at this juncture is clear to all candid minds. Read naturally the Parable of the Tares spells midnight to the new theories on the Second Coming, and so it is denied that the Parable has reference to the Church.
That the parable has reference to the present dispensation is clear from the fact that the Lord says "the harvest is the end of the age," that is, of the age that we now live in; for the idea of another evil age succeeding this one is a mere figment of Gaebelein’s imagination; the age, according to Scripture, that succeeds this present Age, is the millennium.
It is no wonder that the advocates of pre-trib theories of the Advent do not feel happy before the Parable of the Tares; no wonder they are in complete disarray amongst themselves in trying to make the words of the Lord, "let both grow together until the harvest," and, "the harvest is the end of the age," square with the theory that the tares and wheat do not so grow together, and that the harvest is not the End of the Age, but some years before it. Hence the fact that the most unnatural expedients are resorted to avoid the natural sense of Christ’s gracious words. To put the Four Gospels from us, to invent another secret harvest; to bring in the Jewish Remnant and rob us of precious promises; to reduce to thin air the binding of the tares; to make Antichrist rise after the End of the Age; to make the End of the Age a new age altogether—these are held as proof of a special enlightenment, and of "rightly dividing the word of truth." But to teach the obvious truth that the Parable of the Tares locates the gathering of Christians at the End of the Age, when false professors are judged—this is viewed as confusion, and the work of the Enemy.
Many people will entertain the following conclusion about the Parable of the Tares: when writers like Darby, Kelly, Newberry and Scofield insist that the gathering of the wheat signifies the muster of the saints at Christ’s Coming they do so because the natural reading of the words compels them so to interpret it. And when writers like Bullinger, Gaebelein and Miss Habershon insist that the wheat is so gathered at the very End of the Age, when Christ appears in His glory, they do so because that is the natural force of the Lord’s words, "the harvest is the end of the age." Now both sets of writers are right in what they affirm: Darby, Kelly, Newberry, and Scofield in that the gathering of the wheat signifies the Rapture of the Church: Bullinger, Gaebelein and Miss Habershon in that the gathering of the wheat is located by the Lord Jesus at the End of the Age, when He comes forth in His power and majesty, and establishes His Kingdom. Matthew 13:47-50 (R. V. mg.)."
The Dispensationalist view that "the wheat" excludes Christians, excludes all the saved of this present age, is an invention designed to do away with the argument, yet the argument is too strong to be laid aside in this manner. The Dispensationalist has no grounds for limiting the significance of "the wheat" to Jewish believers after the present age has come. Are Christians not children of God, children of the kingdom?
"Another parable of Christendom reads as follows:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was filled, they drew up on the beach; and they sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but the bad they cast away. So shall it be in the consummation of the age the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the righteous, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There is no need to deal with this parable at length, because it obviously stands or falls with that of the Tares. It is fitting to note, however, that here again the separation of believers and professors takes place "at the consummation of the age." As in the Parable of the Tares wheat and tares "grow together until the harvest," so here, good and bad fish—representing the true and the false in Christendom—remain together until the separation at the consummation of the Age. When that time comes the faithful will be rewarded with the glory of Christ and His Kingdom; the false will be cast out into unquenchable fire. This, be it noted, at the same crisis." (CHAPTER VI-THE PARABLE OF THE TARES AND THE WHEAT)
According to the text, who is "severed" from who? Are the righteous severed from the wicked or are the wicked severed from the righteous? The text is clear - "sever the wicked from among the righteous." In a previous posting it was shown how many pre-tribbers misrepresent the words of Jesus when he said, in regard to his coming, "two shall be in the field and one shall be taken and another left." (See Matt. 24: 37-41 and this posting) The one taken is not the righteous, but the wicked, just as in the days of the flood when the deluge took away the "ungodly," leaving only the righteous.