Why is Israel’s Tribulation Necessary?

Dr. Mike Johnston

Answer: repentance of Israel and restoration to the Abrahamic Covenant: “he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them” (Deut. 4:31; see Ezek. 20:37-38 below).

Israel awaits her King and kingdom but she is out of fellowship with God, and God will not bless sin. He made a Covenant with Abrahamic (Gen. 15-18) that was a non-negotiable factor in receiving His blessing. “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you ... And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (excerpted from Genesis 17:9-14).

Israel and the earth rejected Christ and are in sin. “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants [context here is Israel] thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isaiah 24:5-6; see Isaiah 26:9; 33:8; Ezek. 17:18-19)

Punishment and Purging

“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible” (Isaiah 13:11).

Throughout Bible history, Israel rebelled, God responded with judgment, and Israel repented (study the Book of Judges). Although she is returning to the Covenant land as prophesied (Isa. 11:10-12; Ezek. 37:12) she is not in full compliance to the Lord’s Covenant(s). The Tribulation is God’s final restorative act. It is only when His judgments are in the earth that Jews and earth’s inhabitants who survive the carnage will learn righteousness. Punishment [1] and purging will be done as the prophets [2] pictured in punitive and preparatory last day’s Tribulation event (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel 2).

Dr. David Reagan offers this additional insight: “What’s it all about? Why is there going to be such carnage? How could a God of grace, mercy and love allow such an outbreak of unbridled terror and bloodshed? One reason is to satisfy the justice of God. Yes, God is characterized by grace, mercy and love, but He is also a God of perfect justice, righteousness, and holiness. Therefore, He must deal with sin. His justice demands it. Even His love compels it. How could a God of true love simply overlook the actions of a murderer or a pedophile? The prophet Nahum understood the true nature of God. He wrote that “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7). That is the love and mercy of God. But the same prophet wrote (Nahum 1:2-3): A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” [3]

But “And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times [4] more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:15-18).

“And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin … When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (Isaiah 1:25; 4:4).

The solemnity of this time is staggering: “For it is the day of b, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion … For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates” (Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10).

Israel’s Tribulation, therefore, is God’s preparatory and punitive judgment on sin. “And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.” (Ezekiel 20:37-38)

Israel’s prophets agree:

Ezekiel: “And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me …” (Ezekiel 20:38).

Zephaniah: “And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung” (Zephaniah 1:17).

Isaiah also warned: “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left” (Isaiah 24:4-6).

In breaking Covenant with God, Israel has established herself as the enemy of God (James 4:4).[5] Nahum warns: “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies” (Nahum 1:2).

Let’s consider something extremely important. The Tribulation from beginning to end is God’s wrath against His enemies. The church isn’t His enemy. We are the Bride and Body of Christ and Christ will not exercise wrath against His Bride or Himself.

The Tribulation is God’s wrath (Isa. 13:13; Rev. 14:10, 19; 15:1) and His vengeance (Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10) [6] exercised on behalf of Israel’s disobedience. [7] His wrath will also encompass all anti-Semitic earth dwellers [8] (see Isa. 24; Rev. 3:10; 6-19) hating and opposing Israel (Gen. 12:2-3; Deut. 30:7; Psa. 2:1-5; Isa. 41:11; Matt. 25:31-46). God’s wrath (Rev. 14:10, 19; 15:1; etc) will continue until the Revelation of Christ to Israel (Rev. 19:15). The wrath begins with the Lamb (Rev. 6:16-17), rejected, beaten and murdered some two thousand years ago. How fitting that the inhumane treatment Christ received was stored up by God to mete out against Israel and earth’s godless during this unparalleled carnage (Jer. 16:18; now. During this awful time the nation of Israel will be invaded and suffer the loss of two thirds of its population according to Zechariah 13:7-9 pushing her to the brink of annihilation at the valley of decision known as Armageddon (Joel 3:14; Rev. 16:16).

[1] For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion (Isa. 34:8).  For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates (Jer. 46:10).

[2] Total prophets number about 60 or so. Not all were writing prophets, however.

[3] http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-nature-and-purpose-of-the-tribulation/

[4] The word “times” is used in Daniel (the prophecy Rosetta Stone) as a reference to years (Dan. 7:25; 12:7). Seven times used here may be a veiled reference to the seven-year Tribulation.

[5] Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)

[6] “For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion … For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates” (Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10).

[7] As Dr. Scofield points out, for apostasy there is no remedy but Judgment (Isa. 12:7, 24-25; Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31). God has done this throughout Israel’s idol worship and rebellious history (2 Chron. 34:25; 36:16; Ezra 5:12; 8:22, etc.)

[8]Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. (Isaiah 13:9-13)

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