Prophecy and Mystery – Right Division of the Bible leads to Right Conclusions
Dr. Mike Johnston
The Bible presents God overseeing two overarching programs: one for heaven, the other for earth (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for heaven involves the mystery Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6), “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). His program for earth involves prophecy for Israel concerning the coming Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16) aka the Millennial Reign of Christ prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). Israel’s earthly future has progressively unfolded to her “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70) in “time past” (Eph. 2:11-12; see Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 14:16; Heb. 1:1) to be fulfilled in the “ages to come” (Eph. 2:7). The Kingdom will be inaugurated following the Revelation of the Lord Jesus to Israel (Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11-21) which occurs “immediately after the tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:29) or Daniel s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27), a time when God will punish the world for sin while preparing Israel for the Kingdom (Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 20:37; 22:18-22; Hos. 5:15).
Now, here’s an indisputable corollary:
If the Body of Christ (church) is present on earth during Israel’s tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. To wit, while we can easily find Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth during the tribulation – aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1), the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from this divine punishment (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). In fact, there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and unequivocally placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Israel’s holocaust without redefining the words “saints” and “elect”, which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation specifically refer to Israel.
Understanding right division God placed in Scripture is a prerequisite to arriving at right conclusions. Underscoring this is an old axiom that states, “All Scripture is profitable for us, but all Scripture is not personally to us.” This seems to be at the heart of 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).
The theme of this treatise is Israel’s Tribulation and the absence of the Body of Christ. It is best explained through right division. Unfortunately, right division isn’t the default hermeneutic setting even though most prophecy teachers present their work as a product of it. Their error – hewn from long held tradition – unfolds from the assumption that the Old Testament ended with Malachi and the New Testament begins with Matthew, which simply is NOT true.
The fact is, the New Testament didn’t “legally” begin until “the death of [Christ] the Testator” (Hebrews 9:16). This means everything Jesus taught through the gospel of John is under an Old Covenant setting and is specifically to Israel – NOT to the Body of Christ.  Now some scoff at this calling it inconsequential nonsense – and from the content of their writings, it obviously is. However, those of us who are concerned about exactness when studying God’s Word to rightly divide in order to properly teach God’s Word understand the inevitable consequences of misunderstanding the division between the Testaments is to customarily misapply Scripture for Israel to the Body of Christ, which incidentally, is a pervasive problem.
I agree with many Bible scholars that there is a more accurate way to rightly divide the Bible which I’ll discuss in the following sections.
Right Division Between 2 Programs:
Prophecy and Mystery
First is the Prophecy Program which concerns God’s plans for earth  featuring the elect nation Israel and her coming kingdom: “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets,  which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70; see Acts 3:21). Peter is representative (Gal. 2:7-9).
Second is the Mystery Program for heaven featuring the provisional church Body of Christ and our inheritance there with the Lord, revealed by Jesus to Paul: “…according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25). Paul is representative (Gal. 2:7-9).
 Division is an important and inescapable element in the framework of Scripture. For instance, in Genesis one, God divided the light from the darkness, the waters from the waters, the firmament from the waters, and the day from the night.
 This is very inconvenient for those who base their “rapture” arguments on Jesus’ Olivet briefing in Matthew 24, which right division reveals is for Israel under an Old Covenant setting.
 It is God’s plan to rule earth for one thousand years from Jerusalem, Israel (study Zech 12-14; Rev. 19-20). Without question this is the devil’s main motive behind I’slam stealing Jerusalem.
 We find the phrase “that it might be fulfilled” appears 9 times in Matthew: Matthew 1:22; 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 27:35.
 The Body of Christ is comprised of both saved Jews and Gentiles in which God sees no difference (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28).