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The Premise of the Tribulation Trilogy

Dr. Mike Johnston



The premise of The Tribulation Trilogy is simple. Israel and the church are not the same. In fact, they are as different as heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1), and mystery and prophecy; each with separate programs governing them (Rom. 16:25; Acts 3:21). It’s not difficult to see the divisive results from disregarding this God ordained distinction. Dr. Noah Hutchings observed, “If only Christians would hear what God has spoken to them during this age, and claim that which God has given to us and let Israel have that which God has promised to them in the Covenants, then all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour could fellowship one with another. If Christians would rightly divide the Word, then all Scriptures would fall into their rightful place.” (Why So Many Churches, 1992)

To begin with, Israel is God’s premier elect NATION on earth (Deut. 7:6; Isa. 45:4). She exists from prophecy spoken in “time past” [1] by the mouth of the prophets “since the world began” (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; see Matt. 25:34). Bear in mind, prophecy enhances or explains events surrounding earth, and Israel’s divine appointment to earth’s destiny, featuring the King and His Kingdom.

It is Israel to whom God’s prophets presented five covenants guiding and guaranteeing her future on earth, including a lineage, land, laws, and a Lord – King – that began with Abraham and will continue through the Millennium. It is for Israel that the earthly kingdom was “prepared from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34) [2] and through whom the Messiah was born and to whom He was presented, rejected, and yet one day will return to fulfill the Lord’s prophetic prayer, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth…” (Matt. 6:10). It is to Israel the Lord Jesus explained this Davidic Covenant Kingdom will be inaugurated following His visible Revelation in Jerusalem (Matt. 24; see Zech. 14; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-21) “immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:21, 29). [3]

The church, on the other hand, has NO inheritance on earth, and no sustaining purpose here (study Eph. 1-3; Col. 3:1-6). She is the Lord’s heavenly BODY (Eph. 1:3; 2:6); a mystery “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25), given to Paul alone by our heavenly risen Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:20) in a personal post ascension revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:1-9). Currently the church occupies a temporary position on earth during Israel’s hiatus between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week (Dan. 9:24-27) to provoke her to jealousy (Rom. 11:11). The Body of Christ was unknown to any of the prophets (Col. 1:26) and therefore was never included in their earthly prophecies featuring Israel’s Davidic Kingdom, and tribulation (“Jacob’s trouble” – Jer. 30:7) preceding it. In simplest terms, the church that appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) [4] during Israel’s blindness (Rom. 11:7), will disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) when “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).  Once the Body of Christ (church) is gone, Israel’s prophecy clock will resume at Daniel’s seventieth week (one week of seven years – see Dan. 9:27; Rev. 11:2-3), the time of Jacob’s trouble that Jesus referred to as tribulation (Matt. 24:29).

Truth about the Tribulation

One highly disputed Bible doctrine is the tribulation. Retrospectively, over the past forty years I’ve found opinions surrounding it such as its name, length, participants, purpose, and timing of the Lord’s return, to be as vicious [5] as they are varied and vacuous. This need not be. From the first mention [6] in Deuteronomy 4:30-31 (we’ll examine more carefully later) through Revelation 19, it is pictured as a time of trouble for Jacob, and Jacob is Israel (Gen. 32:28; Deut. 31; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 12:1). God designed it to ultimately lead His rebellious, stubborn hearted Jewish people into repentance preparatory to the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Rev. 20) in Jerusalem. One can be sure, “in that day” (Isa. 2:11, 17, 20; 11:11; Jer. 30:8; etc); “the day of the Lord” (Isa. 2:12; 13:6; 13:9; Jer. 46:10; etc), “a day of darkness and of gloominess” (Joel 2:2), the wayward, blind, and slumbering Israel (Rom. 11:8) will awaken to find herself once again on center stage fulfilling Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27), (study Isaiah 2; 24; Joel; Zephaniah, Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; and Revelation 6-19), currently on hold. The tribulation week will be followed by the Revelation of Jesus Christ predicted for Israel “in time past” (Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Acts 14:16; Rev. 19:11-21) to occur in the “ages to come”.

When studied in totality, the tribulation is for Israel, God’s foremost nation on earth (Isa. 2; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zeph; Rev. 3:10; 6-19). It is prophesied to Israel (Deut. 4:30); it is punishment of Israel (Zeph. 1:14-18); and it is preparation for Israel’s Kingdom and King (Jer. 30:3-11). Every Bible reference to it speaks of one of these three things. By prescription – written from the pen of Providence – it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the Body of Christ – provable by Scripture studied in context. Case in point: Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations of the world are mentioned often and thus highly visible during the horrors of this tribulation holocaust (Isa. 2; Dan. 7-12; Joel 2; Zeph. 1-2; Zech. 12-14; Rev. 6-19). However, the Body of Christ (church) is not. In fact, if the church is present on earth during a single moment of the time of “Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1-2), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. Consider this example (not necessarily offered as exclusively conclusive): The Holy Spirit lavishly used the word “church” 19 times in Revelation 1-3, and yet He never specifically mentions the church or Body of Christ once during the tribulation which occurs between Revelation six and nineteen. Why is this?

There are only three possible explanations: First, it was an oversight, which omniscience renders impossible. Second, it was intentional to keep us from knowing we’re destined for the tribulation horrors of the wrath of God (Rev. 6-19) which is equally absurd. Third, the heavenly Body of Christ, His church – promised deliverance “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10), and “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10; see also 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 4:1) is NOT here! This is the only choice an impartial eye can see through the objective lens. There isn’t a verse anywhere in the King James Bible clearly placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27) without redefining the words “saints” and “elect”, which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation specifically refer to Israel in the tribulation (Deut. 4:30).

The Dave MacPherson and Margaret MacDonald
1830 Rapture Hoax


Conversing about the tribulation is impossible without discussing the rapture. Moreover, discussing the rapture is impossible without hearing it’s a giant hoax less than 200 years old. I ran into this again researching material for this treatise. Selective end time’s blog and book writers have galvanized around allegations first popularized in the 1970’s by Dave MacPherson, a neurotic[7]  newspaper reporter who has devoted his life to painting the PreTrib rapture as a big hoax. Borrowing and twisting the undocumented allegations from Textus Receptus enemy Samuel Tregelles – MacPherson contends in a slew of slanderous [8] writings that the rapture is a pervasive fraud with an elaborate cover up hiding a “dubious origin”. Both MacPherson and Tregelles maintain the rapture didn’t exist until 1830 when dispensational scholar John Nelson Darby [9] pirated it from a demon possessed charismatic girl named Margaret MacDonald [10] who conjured it up in a dream. According to the narrative, Darby then gave it to CI Scofield to publish in his reference Bible as part of a sinister plot to deceive Christians for no apparent reason other than the indescribable joy both men received from misleading people. It’s important to point out here that no one – including Tregelles, MacPherson, nor any of their followers – has ever provided a shred of credible proof linking Darby or Scofield to plagiarizing MacDonald or to any of these appalling activities. Instead, they fill their books with a daisy chain of bibliographical references quoting one another as their authorities.[11] Dave a seasoned reporter must have known PreTrib scholars would expose his sham allegations – which they did. What he didn’t count on was the number of honest theologians who investigated him; many of whom did not hold the PreTrib rapture position yet felt compelled to weigh in anyway. [12] Ultimately, when the ink dried, MacPherson’s “scholarship” shriveled under a scrutiny it hadn’t anticipated and couldn’t withstand.

So what does this mean? It means MacPherson’s hoax is an iconic irony. The man who has spearheaded an elaborate 40-year scheme representing the rapture as a big lie has himself been exposed for using a big lie to do it; a tactic eerily reminiscent of one outlined in the Joseph Goebbels Nazi propaganda playbook. [13]

The rapture is not a hoax molded from an elaborate myth. It’s part of the mystery program Jesus revealed to Paul (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 15:51) for the Body of Christ which marks yet another distinction between the church and Israel. However – as MacPherson demonstrates – those who won’t accept Pauline mysteries fight them tooth and nail because they contain “things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3: 16). Taking that into consideration, I offer this treatise, set in a Church/Israel distinction, filled with Scripture, annotations, and appendices juxtaposing for our less precocious Christian friends, The Tribulation Trilogy pictured in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ, [14] the way God intended: in its proper Jewish setting.

[1] Paul provides us with a three-fold perspective for studying the Bible: past, present, future. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past (see Acts 14:16) Gentiles in the flesh, But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (excerpted from Eph 2:6-13).

[2] God’s purpose for earth is a kingdom in Israel. All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints [Jews] shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. (Psalms 145:10-13 – my comment in brackets)

[3] It’s important to know that the tribulation constitutes an unprecedented period of punishment, and purification of Israel in preparation of the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Rev. 20) in Jerusalem following the Revelation of Jesus Christ predicted for Israel in time past (Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Rev. 19:11-21) to occur in the ages to come. The tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ, aka the church.

[4] More information on the mystery nature of the Body of Christ discussed in Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:24-27.

[5] For merely disagreeing on the timing of the rapture, I’ve been insulted, cussed out, had my salvation impugned, as well as my intelligence. I’ve even been threatened with bodily harm, all by men who claim to be bearers of truth as “new creatures” in Christ.

[6] The Law of First Mention teaches that the first time a subject is mentioned in the Bible is how it stands connected in the mind of God throughout Scripture.

[7] MacPherson actually blames proponents of the PreTrib rapture for all of his misfortunes, beginning with his expulsion from Bible college, a drunken binge in Mexico, a car accident, his mom’s death, his sister’s inability to have more children, the demonic possession of his dog, and all his father’s woes. https://www.raptureready.com/who/Dave_MacPherson.html

[8] Dave vilifies all who disagree with his questionable conclusions in a signature unchristian assault. It begins by impugning the person’s character and credentials and ends with condemning their souls to Hell forever.

[9] Darby taught PreTrib rapture in 1827. Roy A. Huebner (Precious Truths Revised and Defended JN Darby).

[10] Here’s a few problems. First, Miss MacDonald’s “prophecy” doesn’t contain any elements related to a pre-trib rapture [Read her prophecy and you’ll find she believed in several raptures and that the church would suffer under Antichrist]. Therefore, in order to get his theory in line with the narrative, he had to conflate the two accounts of Margaret’s vision. Second, no one has ever demonstrated from actual facts of history that Darby was influenced by MacDonald’s “prophecy” even if it had contained pre-trib elements – which it certainly did not. There is evidence that Darby heard about Miss MacDonald’s strange vision and labeled it demonic. Third, Darby clearly held to an early form of the PreTrib rapture by January 1827. This is a full three years before MacPherson’s claim of 1830. John Walvoord has said, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face. Pretribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.” More information available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_MacDonald_(visionary).

[11] And this they want you to believe is scholarly reporting.

[12] Ernest Sandeen, Robert Reiter, Ian Rennie, William Bell, John Bray, and Timothy Weber.

[13] One of the most successful strategies Josef Goebbels facilitated in the Nazi rise to power over Germany was the “Big Lie” propaganda ploy. Briefly, he believed if a lie was big enough and told often enough the people would eventually embrace it. The fact that Hitler slaughtered 6 million Jews virtually uncontested by Germans proves just how powerful this strategy is.

[14] This is the glorious, triumphant and visible return of the Lord Jesus when He comes to earth in full view of the world (Zech 14:4-5; Matt 16:27; 24:29-31; Rev 1:7) with the armies of heaven (Rev 19:11) following. This is the moment of victory with the inauguration of the covenanted Davidic Kingdom prophesied all through the Old Testament (1 Sam. 7:16; Dan. 2:44; Matt. 25:31-34). Unlike the rapture – which along with the Body of Christ is a mystery they knew nothing about (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 15:51) – the prophets had full knowledge about the coming of the Messiah to earth (1 Chron. 16:33; Job 19:25-26; Psa. 102:16; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:4; etc.).

  1. Adam Hartley
    October 13, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Great article, Brother Mike, i printed the whole Tribulation trilogy out, still reading it, makes the Bible make a whole lot more sense, i have a few questions though (oh no lol) not challenging questions, searching for more info questions, hope thats ok,
    1) regarding the ‘times past, but now, ages to come’ (by the way makes the bible simply come alive, well more alive) the rapture would obviously be a part of the mystery and is so called in 1 cor 15, and in the but now dispensation but what about Jesus talking about it in john14 , what i mean is it couldnt have been just revealed to paul as Jesus told it to the disiples, could you explain please? i personally think Jesus hints at his coming for us a few times like luke 17:26-30 its hard to imagine people eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling building planting after the vials are poured out, not to mention the things preceding them, if they are buying and selling they must have the mark of the beast , if they do, i wouldnt like to see those wedding pictures after rev 16:2 lol and buying selling, eating drinking, planting does not sound like the famines (matthew 24:7) i guess im saying it sounds like business as usual not tribulation that exept those days be shortened etc question 2) sorry was trying to make this short, different topic bible versions , i was warned about the modern translation early in my christian walk so used a king james for a while but not really studied the issue until now, regarding Easter in acts 12:4 ive heard the arguments from king james onlyist that those were the days of unleavened bread so the passover is already over but the seem to ignore luke 22:1 im sure youve heard this before what do you think? easter or passover? any material on it? ok thats more than 2 questions, thankyou for this website and ministry il be donating once im doing better financially, well if hillary gets in i might be sleeping round back of walmart in a cardboard box who knows, God bless you all! thanks again

    • October 14, 2016 at 9:25 am


      Hello bro Adam. Let me address the questions you asked:

      RAPTURE: You brought up a great question. Here’s my opinion on the matter after years of prayer and study. While still teaching under the Old Covenant as “a minister of the circumcision” (Rom. 15:8), the Lord Jesus introduced to Jewish believers also still under the Old Covenant what scholars believe to be a seed form of the rapture in John 14:2-3. As you noted, the Lord may have hinted about this in other verses – still under the Old Covenant. However, the mystery – revealed exclusively to Paul involving the Body of Christ comprised of saved Jews and Gentiles – received the revelation of the mystery known and revealed to no one but to Paul. Now, the “caught up” rapture Paul discussed throughout His writings, primarily outlined in 1 Cor. 15:51-58 and 1 Thess. 4:13-18 revealed things Christ did not teach to believing Gentiles aka uncircumcision- Gal 2:7-9 – such as our transformation from mortals to immortals to conform with our heavenly inheritance the mystery stresses. That is part of the mystery and in this dispensation exclusively.

      EASTER OR PASSOVER: One of the guys I “run to” for KJV info is Dr. Sam Gipp. Here’s is his discussion on the Chick Publications website: https://www.chick.com/reading/books/158/158_02.asp

      Hope these help.

  2. Adam Hartley
    October 14, 2016 at 9:52 am

    thanks for reply, helpful, its actually brother Gipps book im reading to research the issue, Hes one who says the days of unleavened bread ARE NEVER CALLED THE PASSOVER (caps in his) but this is not so as i said Luke 22:1 calls the feast of unleavened bread the passover, surely the feast and days of unleavened bread are the same?, thanks anyway Brother, hope its ok to ask questions here (now and then) i used to believe the Church started in acts 2 (like most thats what i was taught) but after reading your articles and much study and prayer im convinced to PAUL was exclusively revealed the mystery. keep up the great work and thanks again.

    • October 15, 2016 at 8:44 am

      Hi bro Adam. Thanks for the thoughtful reply and generously kind comments. I can’t find the exact quote by Gipp you cited: “the days of unleavened bread ARE NEVER CALLED THE PASSOVER” so I can’t comment on the context. Have you written to Dr. Gipp about this? Shalom …

      PS: Here are a few RIGHT DIVISION grace Bible teachers well worth becoming familiar with:

      Keep studying brother.

  3. Adam Hartley
    October 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    the quote is from the link you gave me in your first response, from chick.com quoted from brother Gipps book ‘the answer book’ he actually says ‘ The days of unleavened bread are NEVER referred to as the Passover.’ 8th paragraph from bottom of the page in the link. no i havnt contacted him, i couldnt see a contact email on his site, il look, just though you guys might have the answer as most dont, thanks for the video links i have watch lots of videos from brother Robert Breaker, and Rodney Beaulieu, never watched the brother in the top video, will do, thanks again.

    • October 17, 2016 at 8:20 am

      BTW, the verbiage you originally sent me was the reason I couldn’t search the reference on the passover by Dr. Gipp. This one was exactly as he stated it and I found it with no problem on his site. Here’s his contact info: Dr. Sam Gipp | 905 Woodlawn Ave. NW | Canton, OH 44708 | 330-685-2578

      PS: I’ve searched unleavened and passover and find no conflict with Dr. Gipp’s teaching. What is the exact issue here?

  4. Adam Hartley
    October 17, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    The issue is with Luke 22:1 ‘Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is call the Passover’ surely the days of unleavened bread and the feast of unleavened bread are the same? or am i confused (probably) also Matthew 26:17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt though that we prepare for thee to eat the passover’ here its called the first day of the feast of unleavened bread and the passover had not yet been prepared let alone eaten, so if passover is on the 14th and unleavened bread from 15-21 it seems here its referring to all 8 days as the passover,so in acts 12:3-4 when it says (then were the days of unleavened bread) brother Gipp says this was somewhere from the 15-21 as the feast of unleavened bread follows the passover (14th) but that seems to conflict with the scripture i mention above, thanks a lot for your help

    • October 17, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      Brother Adam, after studying the 9 separate verse occurrences of unleavened and Passover, Luke 22:1 seems to suggest the the feast preceding unleavened bread was the Passover. In light of that I don’t see any problem with Dr. Gipp’s interpretation.

      However, I urge you to write him at the address I provided previously if you still have questions about this, ok? Shalom …

  5. Adam Hartley
    October 17, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    will do, thankyou for all your help.

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