Rapture of the Body of Christ BEFORE Israel’s Tribulation
Dr. Mike Johnston
If you’ve studied the Bible for any length of time, you probably know that the tribulation – aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) – is a grossly misunderstood, gravely misapplied end-time’s doctrine. One of the major misrepresentations concerns the tribulation and comes from ardent PreTrib opponents who inauspiciously link it to the Body of Christ with nothing more than heavy-handed haranguing. The corruption in their conclusion originates in rejecting the clear distinction God’s Word makes between Israel, the Body of Christ, and the two distinct programs governing them.
Israel exists from a prophecy program “which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21) and the Body of Christ from a mystery program “which was kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). This main division is a necessary component for unlocking Scripture surrounding the end times, the mystery Body of Christ, and Israel and her coming tribulation. Ignoring it leads to the following blunders.
Anti-PreTrib teachers must trivialize the doctrine of the tribulation by claiming it’s nothing more than the common trials every Christian faces. The tribulation that Moses, Jesus, and John warned Israel about (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14) is an epic future event which was progressively revealed in Scripture as “tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14); “the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15); Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27); “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” (Zephaniah 1:15), and “the hour of temptation” to try earth dwellers (Rev. 3:10). You see anything trivial here?
Additionally, PreTrib rapture opponents – either from ignorance or intention – twist God’s purpose for Israel’s tribulation – which is to punish sin and sinners (Deut. 4:30-31; Jer. 30-31; Joel, Zeph; Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19), and prepare earth and Israel for the Revelation of the Messiah (Matt. 24:29; Rev. 19:11) and the Jewish Davidic Kingdom following (2 Sam. 7:16; Isa. 11; 65; Matt. 25:34; Rev. 20).
However, the greatest “sleight of men and cunning craftiness” (Eph. 4:14) used by anti-PreTrib advocates has to be their Houdini hermeneutics whereby they make discordant facts appear or disappear as need arises. One glaring example concerns the slipshod treatment of the mystery Body of Christ the prophets never saw and never mentioned (Rom. 16:25; (Eph. 3:5; Col. 1:26).
Consider this. Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations can be clearly identified during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15) while the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from it (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). Was this an oversight from the Holy Spirit? Was He unaware the church was included in this epoch of evil? Or – even worse – did He purposely hide this to advance some secret conspiracy against us?
The bottom line – although inconvenient for some – is extremely simple and completely verifiable from God’s Word. The Body of Christ isn’t mentioned because we aren’t here. There isn’t a single prophecy or verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and conclusively consigning or identifying on earth for a single moment of Israel’s tribulation the Body of Christ without pulling from context and redefining the words “saints” and “elect” – which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation specifically refer to Israel.