The Body of Christ (church) is NOT on earth during Israel’s Tribulation

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 was unknown. It 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, however, was well known. It involves prophecy for Israel concerning the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16), aka the Millennial Reign of Christ, prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34) that has progressively unfolded “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70; see Acts 3:21). The prophets exposed and explained five Jewish Covenants God made with Israel to guard her and guide her earthly pilgrimage beginning with the calling of Abraham through the inauguration of the Kingdom. Moses, who first prophesied of a coming Tribulation for Israel also linked it to renewed obedience to the Covenant (Deut. 4:30-31; see Exod. 2:24; 19:5; Lev. 26:41-46) which he warned was the key to continued blessing and possessing the Covenant Land required for the Kingdom (Lev. 26; Deut. 28). However, timing for this Covenant Kingdom was unknown until Daniel codified the final 490-years into a prophecy calendar of seventy weeks of seven years with two stipulations: it MUST be fulfilled by “thy people” (Israel), and it MUST involve “thy holy city” (Jerusalem). (Dan. 9:24-27).

When the Lord Jesus came 2000 years ago, it was precisely as Daniel – and the prophets – had predicted (Dan. 9:24-27; see Matt. 26:56; see Acts 3:18-26). His mission was to fulfill the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (Luke 1), so He preached the gospel of the kingdom to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 4:17, 23; 15:24). However, the Kingdom was put on hold when the King was “cut off” (Dan. 9:26) precisely at Daniel’s 70th week. This left one final seven-year period still to be fulfilled by Israel before the Kingdom can begin. Christ clarified this future period signs in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:21, 29) where He called it “great tribulation.” This same phrase was later used by John in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 7:14) which describes its commencement (Rev. 6) through to its conclusion (Rev. 19) and the return of the Lord of Glory – Israel’s Messiah –  to earth to establish His Kingdom “immediately after (Israel’s) Tribulation” (Matt. 24:29; 25:31-34; Rev. 19:11).

Now herein lies the crux of our thesis: Prophecy assigns the Tribulation to Israel (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19) as purification and punishment before the Kingdom. The Body of Christ – which is positionally seated “in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3; 2:6) was unknown to the prophets and hidden from their prophesies. We have no place or purpose for being here. In fact, there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly identifying the Body of Christ here for a single moment of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15) without redefining words like “saints” and “elect” which refer to Israel. That said, we must reiterate that this is Israel’s Tribulation easily understood when the trilogy of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the Book of Revelation are properly studied in their Jewish setting.

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