Prophecy, Mystery, and Israel’s Tribulation

Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ – Dr. Mike Johnston

All Scripture is profitable for us, but all Scripture is not personally to us. This seems to be what the Apostle Paul had in mind when under Holy Spirit inspiration he wrote: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Obviously, since right division is the pathway to interpreting God’s word, we need to understand it in order to utilize it.

Right division begins with differentiating between two separate – but often conflated – programs that have both existed “since the world began”: Prophecy for Israel and an earthly kingdom (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21) and The Mystery of the church [1] and a heavenly inheritance (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1-9).

The Prophecy Program

The Prophecy Program which God hath “spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21; see Luke 1:70), concerns earth and Israel. The goal of prophecy is the glorious appearance – aka the Revelation[2] – of Jesus the Messiah. He follows the Tribulation [3] (Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 19:11) to establish Israel’s kingdom under Himself, the Messianic King (Isa. 9:6-7; Zech. 14:9; see Dan. 9:25) from the lineage of David in the city of Jerusalem (Isa. 24:23; Mic. 4:7) in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16). Keep in mind Israel’s kingdom has been in the works for thousands of years as the Lord Jesus revealed at the sheep and goat judgment prophecy: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

The Mystery Program

The Mystery Program concerns God’s purpose for heaven (Eph. 1:9) and the exaltation of the church Body of Christ together in Heaven with Christ (Eph. 2:4-10, 3: 1-4; Col. 3:1-6).[4]  It was hidden from and thus unknown to the prophets – or anyone else – until the Lord Jesus revealed it privately to Paul as part of “the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25; see Gal. 2:11-12; Ephesians 2:4-10, 3:1-4). 

Right Division and Tribulation Research Data

Using right division between prophecy for Israel and the mystery church, we painstakingly researched the Tribulation as found in Scripture. Essentially two groups have formed to define it: One group teaches that everyone alive will be required to endure at least a portion of it, and the other group – the one I am in – believes it is for Israel and thus the church is exempt.

The Bible teaches the Tribulation was initially revealed by Moses to Israel [First Mention Principle we’ll discuss later] as a unilateral “latter days” event expressly designed to restore her to the irrevocable Abrahamic Covenant in preparation for the coming Kingdom (Gen. 17:7-8; Deut. 4:30-31; 31:29; Isa. 24-26; Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 16:59-63; Dan. 10:14; 12:1; Zech 12-14).

Over time – through progressive revelation – we also discovered how God’s messengers the prophets defined and detailed the Tribulation by using names like “the time of (Jacob’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7; see Dan. 12:1), and “day of wrath … trouble and distress … and darkness …” (Zeph. 1:15) and many more. But the most enlightening insights came from the manner in which the Tribulation trilogy of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation blend together to prove Israel’s Tribulation does NOT include the Body of Christ. [You can order [5] The Tribulation Trilogy for a full discussion]

Leading the way in this is Daniel – the Rosetta Stone of prophecy – that reveals the Tribulation as part of a 70 weeks of seven years’ timeline that must be fulfilled by Israel (Dan. 9:15, 16, 19, 24). Our study shows the Tribulation Daniel codified (Dan. 9:24-27) was abruptly halted at Christ’s rejection (Matt. 21-27) after the 69th week (Dan. 9:25-26). This leaves Israel with one final 7-year period prior that she must fulfill prior to the inauguration of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (Dan. 9:24-27). Scholars teach this is the Tribulation, clarified and linked to Daniel’s Abomination of desolation (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15), by Christ in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13: Luke 21), that will culminate in Revelation 6-19.

Summary of our research: The Tribulation from the beginning has been prophecy for Israel and earth (Deut. 4:30-31; Psalm 2; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Zeph. 1:15, etc). The Body of Christ has no earthly inheritance and has no prophetic purpose for being here! The prophets that revealed the Tribulation to Israel didn’t know about the Body of Christ. They never saw us, never mentioned us, and therefore could not – and did not – include us on earth for a single moment during Israel’s Tribulation! To wit, while Israel and the unsaved anti-Semitic nations of the world are clearly visible on earth in passages depicting the horrors of Israel’s Tribulation, the Body of Christ is conspicuously absent. There isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly placing the Body of Christ on earth during this time without pulling from context and redefining the words “saints” and “elect” – which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the Revelation – specifically refer to the nation of Israel and/or her Tribulation converts.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, when using the term “church” in this treatise I am referring to the Body of Christ (Col. 1:18, 24)

[2] The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the public return of the Lord to Israel with the mystery church (1 Thess. 2:19; Rev. 19:14; Jude 1:14) already there with Him (John 14:2-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 4:1; 19:11-21).

[3] One of the many names God used for the Tribulation in the Bible is the “time of (Jacob’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24-27)

[4] Cornelius Stam has written extensively on this. PMI also offers more on Prophecy and the Mystery.

[5] We have The Tribulation Trilogy available for a gift to PMI of $17 shipped anywhere in the US. Price subject to change of course.


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