Israel and Church Differences

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

Israel is a physical nation existing from prophecy awaiting an earthly Kingdom. The church is a spiritual body existing as a mystery awaiting a heavenly inheritance not known by the prophets or discussed in prophecy. The two have both existed since the world began (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25), but that’s where most of the similarity ends.

The distinctiveness, therefore, between the earthly nation Israel and the heavenly Body of Christ is an inescapable fact reflected in the prophetic Covenant still in effect with Israel. Dr. CI Scofield’s insight is well worth restating here: “(Israel’s) history alone is told in Old Testament narrative and prophecy [which incidentally continues through the crucifixion]; other nations are mentioned only as they touch the Jew [really consider this last statement because in it is the key unlocking this entire book]. It appears, also, that all the communications of Jehovah to Israel as a nation relate to the Earth. [1]

Notwithstanding, co-mingling God’s program for Israel with His program for the church Body is the “ploy du jour” among PreTrib antagonists often claiming they believe in a clear distinction while spinning unsupportable yarns inserting the church into “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7)  – aka Tribulation – where she can’t be seen and she doesn’t belong. Rightly dividing the word of truth between Israel and the Body of Christ helps clarify the reason the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s Tribulation.

Scripture clearly teaches Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same. Every effort to diminish their distinction is a dubious distortion. It’s no secret that Satan hates God’s elect Israel for many reasons, not the least of which is the Lord Jesus Christ – God the Father’s Preeminent offspring – God the Son – from the tribe of Judah and royal seed of David who will one day rule the world from Jerusalem. In the wake of Lucifer’s contempt, he has inspired haughty [2] heretical Bible teachers to make unfounded claims –originating in the first centuries of church history – that the Body of Christ is the new Israel – aka Replacement Theology. It’s as if Satan opined after many unsuccessful attempts to annihilate Israel, “Ok, fine. If I can’t personally destroy these Jews, I’ll marginalize and malign them with a mass misinformation campaign led by a cabal of otherwise respected men teaching that the church has replaced them.”

To further help us understand why the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s Tribulation – let’s get back to the premise underlying the truths in this entire treatise: Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same and neither is God’s plan for them.

I reiterate; the church is not the new Israel. [3] Her future is not on earth and she is not looking for – nor does she require – Israel’s judgment and punishment [4] (Deut. 30:7; 32:43; Isa. 2:19-21; Isa. 13; 24; 34;  Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7; 12:1; Joel 2; Zephaniah, see 1:15; Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19) and purification God is going to mete out to Israel and the world during the “Tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29). [5] In fact, her inheritance (Eph. 1:11) has nothing to do with the earth. She is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), spiritually seated in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). Her “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) is Christ  and His imminent return in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18) to deliver her from Israel’s Tribulation wrath [6] to come (1 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 3:10) by escorting her back to His heavenly home according to His immutable promise (John 14:2-3). [7]

 

The Distinctives of the Pauline Body

I like what Miles Stanford wrote regarding the Body of Christ as revealed in Pauline Dispensationalism: We hold to the following indispensable tenets regarding the Church–the Body of Christ:

First and foremost, “Classic Pauline Dispensationalism is based upon the division of LIFE, not simply that of economies.  Once that total separation of the two seminal lives [First and Last Adam] is seen and maintained, the economies will never coalesce.”  The quintessence of the rightly divided Word is the doctrine of the two Adams!

“The Church (Body of Christ) was neither prophesied nor revealed in OT Scriptures.”  The Church is a heavenly entity.  The Church is not, as per covenant theory, the fulfillment of the promised blessings to Gentiles according to the Abrahamic Covenant.  Further, the Church is not the recipient of blessing formerly promised to the nation of Israel nor of any “spiritual blessings” from Israel’s New Covenant.  God made no covenant with the heavenly Church.  The Body of Christ is unique.

“The Church was a complete mystery until revealed doctrinally by Paul.”  It is the Body of Christ and her uniqueness that is the central mystery, not the principles of grace or faith.  There is one Body of Christ, whose advent was on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts Chapter 2.  The Church (Body of Christ) did not begin with the Apostle Paul, but rather his ministry was one of unfolding the truths associated with that one Body.

“Paul, in the Church Epistles, was the minister of Church truth.”  “Those who do not center in the truths which the ascended Lord communicated directly to this Apostle will not know who and where they are in Christ, nor what their part is in the purpose of God.  Neither will they know their heavenly privileges and responsibilities. Those who are ignorant of, and not centered in, the Pauline Gospel as set forth exclusively in Paul’s epistles, are constantly astray in their interpretation of the Gospel, to say nothing of Church truth.

“…for a dispensationalist it is best not to refer to the difference between the Old Testament (books) and New Testament (books), as such.  Much of the NT (Synoptic Gospels) is OT (related to Israel and her covenants): all is OT to Matthew 27, Mark 15, and Luke 23.  Church (Body) truth, the new, is totally different from Judaistic truth, the old; and it was not fully revealed until after the Cross, via Paul.”

“The thirteen epistles of Paul (Romans to Philemon) form a distinct body of truth; and this realm of truth is about us, the Church, the Body of Christ, as no other Scriptures are.  And Paul is the Father’s special messenger to us.  As has been truly said, ‘All of the Bible is for us, but it is not all about us.’”[8]

Before we advance in our study, may I ask if you are sure you know Christ as your Saviour and Lord? If not, ask Him into your life today.

Conflating Israel with the Church to marginalize the distinction

While conflating Scripture for Israel and the Body of Christ is confusing, it isn’t new especially as it relates to placing the church Body into Israel’s Tribulation where she can’t be seen and doesn’t belong.

This ruse originated almost two thousand years ago when a frightening letter arrived in Thessalonica  [9] signed by someone pretending to be the apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:1-2). Although he had carefully and systematically expounded Israel’s day of the Lord[10] and the assurance of a PreTrib rapture to this church (1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:9; see 2 Thess. 2:5), this latest epistle implied Paul had apparently been deceived by divine revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:11-12) and changed his mind. According to the letter, he evidently now believed Israel’s Tribulation beginning with the day of Christ was at hand and that all Christians were going to have to endure it.

When you discern the divine distinctions between Israel (prominent on earth), Gentiles, Church (subordinate) hinges on the prophets, you possess one of the keys for rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). The prophets were clear as they spoke Kingdom related messages to Israel (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21). These men never knew about the church Body, never spoke about us, and certainly never placed us into Israel’s Tribulation – which originated from prophecy and exists in the prophecy program for Israel – for a single moment. They knew this epoch has been reserved for currently unsaved Israel and anti-Semitic nations of the world.

In brief, while many PreTrib rapture combatants glibly request a single verse promising the Body of Christ an escape from Israel’s Tribulation – and I’ve provided many in this treatise – I in turn have asked these men to produce a single Scripture clearly placing the Body of Christ in Israel’s Tribulation without redefining the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which in context identifies Israel.

None have because none can!

[1] This includes the future Tribulation judgment as Isaiah reveals: The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. (Isaiah 24:19-21)

[2] Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (Romans 11:18)

[3] Replacement theology is a rank heresy Jesus said originated in the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9; 3:9).

[4] 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).

[5] Also called “Jacob’s (aka Israel’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7), “the time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1), “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10) as well as a few other names.

[6] This coming wrath is described fully in Rev. 6-19).

[7] We refer to this as the Rapture of the church.

[8] Copied from http://withchrist.org/pauldisp.htm

[9] Such was the case in Thessalonica where teachers pretending to be Paul sent letters claiming he’d changed his position and that the church was going through the tribulation (Second Thessalonians).

[10] The day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Joel 1:15, 2:1; etc); a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1); and the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21-29). Bear in mind, the tribulation is part of the day of the Lord; a Jewish phrase used by at least nine Jewish prophets that centers on earth and concerns Israel, not the church (see Zech 12-14; Matthew 24; Revelation 6-19), where the focus is Jerusalem, and the abomination of desolation in the Temple (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

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