Reviewing the Facts about Israel’s Tribulation

Dr. Mike Johnston

You may have gathered from what you’ve read that Israel’s Tribulation is a highly disputed Bible doctrine. 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 vacuous, vicious [1] and extremely varied. This need not be if Bible teachers will employ sound hermeneutics rather than self-serving hubris.

From the first mention [2] in Deuteronomy 4:30-31 through Revelation 19, the Tribulation 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”.

Now keep at the forefront of your thinking that understanding right division God placed in Scripture is a prerequisite to arriving at right conclusions. This author – along with numerous scholars – has identified Israel’s future time of trouble as Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; 26; Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14). Moreover, it is significant to note that every prophet discussing it invariably consigned it to Israel (study the descriptions in Isaiah 2; 24; Jeremiah 30-31; Hosea. 5:15; Joel; Zeph. 1:15). Unless you understand the connection prophecy brings to Israel’s Tribulation and her earthly Kingdom – which are completely separate from the church Body – you will have nothing from which to base right division and will remain as doctrinally destitute as most of the writers filling bookshelves with their groundless supposition presuming what they can never prove.

With that, allow me reiterate what Scripture reveals from cover to cover: There isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and indisputably placing the Body of Christ on earth during Israel’s Tribulation without redefining the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples ”which in context of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation clearly identify Israel. Now, using this as a backdrop, we must continue to Biblically reject the crass manipulation that exists in the PreTrib antagonist writings beginning by misrepresenting as untrue the fact that Israel’s Tribulation has been – from the beginning – prophesied for Jacob, aka Israel; NEVER for the Body of Christ (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29; Isa. 2; 24; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15).

Israel’s Tribulation is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in the Bible. As an eschatological theme, we know Israel’s Tribulation part of Israel’s prophecy program, given to her in “time past” [3] (Eph. 2:11) to be fulfilled in the “ages to come”[4] (Eph. 2:7). However, trying to make sense of it apart from understanding God’s purpose for it, is like trying to assemble a 1000 piece puzzle with no picture and pieces missing.

Here’s the dilemma driving our opponents to distort the truth about us and the PreTrib rapture position we interpret from right division.

If the church Body of Christ is present on earth even for a moment of 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 identify Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations here during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; see Deut. 4:30-31; Isa. 2; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7-12; Joel 2; Zeph. 1), the heavenly Body of Christ – which is 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). Let the record show, 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” and “disciples” which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation are specifically linked to Israel.

Here is our chart at the conclusion of these next three chapters.


the Elect Nation



Spokesmen: Prophets and Peter
Time Past – Ages to come

Genesis-John and Hebrews-Revelation
Gospel of the Kingdom – Circumcision

Tribulation – time of Jacob’s trouble

Looking for the Revelation after Tribulation

the Body of Christ


Spokesman: Paul
But now

Gospel of Grace – Uncircumcision

Looking for the Rapture before Tribulation

Returning with Jesus in the Revelation

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] This covers Genesis through John with historical narrative through Mid Acts.

[4] This covers Hebrews through Revelation.

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