Question: Would you please explain Revelation 3:10. Different teachers base their different views of the scheduling of the rapture in relation to the tribulation on that verse. They can't all be right. What does the verse really say?
Answer: You are right. Equally devout students of the prophetic Scriptures differ as to the time of the rapture in relation to the tribulation. But a couple of very important clues are given to us in Revelation 3:10 that must not be ignored.
In Revelation 3:10 the Lord says: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." The Lord promises to keep those whom He addresses "from the hour of temptation."
Post-tribulationists believe that means that the Lord will keep believers safe during that period. Christ will provide Divine protection so that the Church will be able to go through it and not perish. Their view implies that the Lord will keep believers in that time period. Pre-tribulationists, on the other hand, believe it means that the Lord will keep believers out of that period.
The hour of temptation will affect a particular group. It will try "them that dwell upon the earth." What group is being referred to? The phrase "them that dwell upon the earth" appears 11 times in the Book of Revelation and nowhere else in the Scripture. How is the phrase used in the Book of Revelation? It refers to non-believers.
For example, in Revelation 13, verses 8 and 12 those words refer to those who worship the beast and are not in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 13:8 is quite plain: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [speaking with reference to the first beast], whose names are not written in the book of life." Revelation 11:10 uses that phrase in the same way. Those who dwell upon the earth are tormented by the two prophets. Once again, that cannot refer to believers.
Also, take note of the phrase "the hour of temptation." This refers to a period of time. The Lord promises to keep those so addressed from that period of time known as "the hour of temptation."
Post-tribulationists argue that the promise is merely that the Lord will keep those so addressed from some of the events that occur during that period of time, but the words of the verse do not support that view. Christ promises to keep His Church FROM that PERIOD of time.
The special preservation promised is in relation to a specific, well-known hour of trial, the future seven-year tribulation, which will precede Christ's return. The verse tells us that the Lord will not keep the Church through this hour, but that He will keep it out of this time of difficulty. Only a rapture away from the earth can accomplish this.