The Premise of the Tribulation Trilogy

Excerpted from my book: Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ

Dr. Mike Johnston

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) [italics added].

Two programs unfold from the first verse of Scripture: one for heaven, the other for earth. However, until you understand how God hid the heavenly program while disclosing the earthly program, Scripture will at best be enigmatic.

THE PREMISE OF THE TRIBULATION TRILOGY

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; Zeph. 1:15). 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 (Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 20:37; 22:18-22; Zeph. 1:14-18); and it is preparation for Israel’s Kingdom and King (Jer. 30:3-11; Hos. 5:15). 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).

[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.

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