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Watch the Christians dance to Dave MacPherson’s Huckster Hustle

Dr. Mike Johnston

It’s impossible to discuss the end times apart from the Tribulation and the rapture. It’s also impossible to discuss the rapture without hearing it’s a satanic hoax [1] never taught until 1830.

This of course is the huckster hustle popularized 4 decades ago by Dave MacPherson a neurotic, rapture-loathing reporter from Missouri. I’ve often thought of MacPherson like the neighbor’s Chihuahua that sneaks outdoors, piddles on your bushes, and grabs your pant leg when you try shooing him away.

The mainstay of MacPherson’s mendacity is his rowdy insistence that the church Body must participate in Israel’s Tribulation and everyone who doesn’t believe it is a Luciferian loon. This he continually contends in spite of the evidence disputing it leaving no question in anyone’s mind Dave isn’t in this for the facts; he’s in it for the fight!

Clearly Dave’s greatest ambition is the wholesale destruction of the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) and all proponents of it. Believe me, if you‘ve read MacPherson’s materials you know he exercises a vast amount of creative license to get there. This hatred however has corrupted his conscience since he blames the rapture and its teachers for virtually all of his misfortunes, beginning with his expulsion from BIOLA College for opposing it. This he complains caused him to go on a drunken binge in Mexico, followed at some point by a car accident, his mom’s death, his sister’s inability to have more children, the demonic possession of his dog, all his father’s pastoral woes; and on and on ad nauseum. In short, MacPherson lays on the shoulders of the “evil” PreTrib rapture and equally evil teachers every one of his misfortunes. [2]

That said, understanding Dave’s dark documented background will allow you to connect the dots leading to the inspiration for his incendiary irrationality.

The Malevolent MacPherson

In the 1970s, the crestfallen MacPherson [3] created the “straw man” rapture origin argument to help him fight against the PreTrib rapture; the nemesis he couldn’t defeat by simply using the Bible. He cultivated his con from the undocumented claims of Textus Receptus enemy and fellow truth twister Samuel Tregelles, to sculpt what has become a lucrative career featuring a multi-volume fantasy franchise under defamatory titles like “The Rapture Plot”, “The Incredible Cover Up”, “The Great Rapture Hoax”, “Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin” and “Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture,” etc.

Regardless of the cryptic title on the cover, Dave’s books all coalesce around one consistently unproven three step theme:

  1. The PreTrib rapture didn’t exist until 1830 [4]
  2. A demon possessed charismatic member of Edward Irving’s[5] Catholic Apostolic Church by the name of Margaret MacDonald – conjured it up in a vision [6]
  3. John Nelson Darby [a dispensational scholar who considered charismatics mystics and spiritualists anathema] embraced it as a revelation from God and pilfered [7] it for CI Scofield to publish in his reference Bible.

MacPherson is like the car salesman peddling autos he doesn’t possess hoping you won’t check the lot. In fact for over 40 years he’s expected others to trust a baseless allegation about a sinister plot Darby and Scofield cooked up in some – who knows where – dimly lit room to deceive Christians for no apparent reason other than the indescribable joy both men received from misleading people.

However, there are many problems associated with thesis. Let me list three:

First, Miss MacDonald’s “prophecy” doesn’t contain the indisputable elements required of a pre-trib rapture proponent. [8] In fact, if you read her prophecy you’ll find she believed in several raptures and that the church would suffer under Antichrist. Therefore, in order to get his theory in line with the narrative, MacPherson had to edit the two accounts of Margaret’s vision. This is softened to creative eisegesis in some circles. The one I fellowship with sees it as dishonest journalism and it’s practiced constantly by gainsayers (Titus 1:9).

Second, no one has ever demonstrated from historical records that Darby was influenced by MacDonald’s “prophecy” even if it had contained pre-trib elements – which it certainly did not.

Third, according to biographer historian Roy Huebner R. A. Huebner, “Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby”, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991), Darby clearly held to an early form of the PreTrib rapture by January 1827. This is a full three years before MacPherson’s claim of 1830.

So did – or would – Darby steal the PreTrib rapture teaching from a babbling charismatic whom he would have considered occult influenced? He didn’t because he wouldn’t! In fact, no one – including Tregelles, MacPherson, nor anyone in their league of loyal lackeys – has ever provided a shred of credible proof linking directly Darby or Scofield to plagiarizing MacDonald’s mystic utterances – except of course MacPherson. I’ll quote Brethren researcher Frank Marotta,

“It is significant that MacPherson is the lone “historian” who has argued a connection between Macdonald and Darby. Considering that there have been numerous historical examinations of both the Irvingites and the Brethren, yet MacPherson stands alone in exposing the “plot,” is rather a testimony to polemical bias, not the facts. Those anti-pretribulationists who have adopted MacPherson’s revision have done so merely on the basis of his word, not as a result of original research.” [9]

The verdict of this debate will turn on the evidence you’ve heard. If you’re outcome oriented, follow Dave; if you want an objective conclusion, you’ll reject him. After full consideration of MacPherson’s muttering, here’s the analysis by respected Theologian Dr. John Walvoord, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face. Pretribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.” [10]

[1] CAVEAT: The fact that they label satanic whatever they don’t agree with tells you about the content of their heart. Although I used to discuss the rapture with them, I finally came to my senses no longer give a moment to them

[2] http://www.raptureready.com/dave-macpherson/

[3] Dave has positioned himself and his father Norman as victims of the PreTrib rapture. First, as a pastor his dad flip flopped on the PreTrib rapture and was asked to resign the church he pastored. This, he said, ruined his life. Dave’s woes began when he was allegedly run out of a Bible college for teaching Post Trib rapture. My instincts tell me after reading Dave’s belligerent blustering; there is more to it than that.

[4] Roy Huebner documented that John Nelson Darby held a form of the Pre-Trib view by January of 1827, three full years before Dave MacPherson’s 1830 claim. His came from marking the distinction between Israel and the church, not from an occult influenced Scottish lass.

[5] Edward Irving was a Scottish clergyman, generally regarded as the main figure behind the foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church which believed in modern day apostles and sign gifts. In other words they were charismatics. [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]

[6] “It is only with some difficulty that one can identify what MacPherson calls her ‘pretribulationist’ teaching in the transcript of 1840, and when in 1861 Norton quoted from her prophecy he omitted the passage which referred to ‘the fiery trial’ which ‘will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus’—a passage which clearly assumes that Christians will go through the tribulation.” [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]

[7] If Margaret MacDonald is the originator of the PreTrib rapture, why are there no records of her contesting Darby’s theft?

[8] I’ve studied this carefully. There isn’t clear PreTrib teaching here and those who claim otherwise do so more from an agenda than they do academics. You may request a copy from PMI. Please include a SASE.

[9] Quoted from: http://www.according2prophecy.org/macphers.html. There is a wealth of info unveiling the mocking MacPherson.

[10] More information available at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret: MacDonald: (visionary)

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May 16, 2018: Here’s a “reasonable” response from a rapture hater to the above factual evidence:

“You’re an idiot if you believe in the rapture. There is absolutely ZERO biblical evidence for it, and Revelation clearly states there is no rapture . You spend more time on ad hominem attacks than you do proving your fault. Why are you trying to spread false hope for an event that won’t happen? Stop fooling yourself.”

Email: rjpel43@XXX.com

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GIMMICK: “The Antichrist has to be revealed BEFORE the Rapture” GOTCHA!

Dr. Mike Johnston

Misinterpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4. Nothing has to occur before the Rapture. The notion that the Antichrist must appear first was invented by PreTrib rapture opponents misinterpreting Second Thessalonians Two. Here’s the exact passage: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken [1]in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 KJV)

Let’s develop the context here. Dr. Myron J. Houghton [2] adds this [my comments in brackets]:

“Paul is writing to the Thessalonian believers about the rapture. The false teaching which these three sources [spirit, word, letter] presented and which disturbed the Thessalonians was that “the day of Christ” had come. [The Day of Christ begins with the Rapture of the church. I’ll explain the difference shortly shortly]. This “day” refers to the time when Christ will directly intervene in human affairs by bringing destruction upon the world. Furthermore, the verb that is translated “is at hand” is in the perfect tense and thus signifies completed past action with present results. Thus, the false teaching was that the day of Christ the Lord had arrived and was now present[3] We know from 2 Thessalonians 1:4 that these believers were already suffering persecution, so this conclusion was not farfetched. Paul’s purpose, then, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3–10 is to show these believers that they were not in the Tribulation. [To demonstrate this] in v. 3, he states that two things must occur before the Tribulation can begin: (1) the “falling away,” and (2) the revelation of the man of sin.”

Tribulation Activities of the Man of sin, the Antichrist

Antichrist gains notoriety by brokering a 7-year peace treaty between Israel and her enemies (Dan. 9:27; see Rev. 6:2), perhaps involving Temple construction and restarting the Judaic sacrificial system.

[SIDE NOTE: Jews are overwhelmingly convinced Messiah will return to personally construct the Temple. Juxtapose this to Antichrist and you’ll be startled by the possible delusion he’ll present]

In the midst of Daniel’s 70th week, Antichrist will end the sacrificial worship system and commit an abominable act causing the desolation of Jerusalem (Dan. 9:27; 11:22, 28, 30) by entering the Temple and demanding to be worshiped (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

The Falling Away

Christians generally believe the falling away is a departure from the faith in the last days. While I believe this is true (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Pet. 2:1-2), I also believe this verse may contain a double entendre [4] I’ll tie together in a moment. Dr. Thomas Ice, prolific author, speaker, apologist, and President of the Pre-Trib Research Center, [5] challenged conventional wisdom by suggesting that the falling away Paul disclosed in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 may be a reference to a departing we call the rapture rather than a defection from the faith. The following Bible scholars have presented the same findings: E. Schuyler English[i]; Pastor Chuck Smith [ii]; Dr. David Hocking [iii] and Dr. Myron Houghton who offers the following:

“Two possible solutions have been presented as to the identity of the “falling away.” The first solution is the one traditionally given and is still the most popular view today. It understands the “falling away” as a great apostasy or departure from the faith. Almost any standard commentary will defend this position. For a detailed defense of this view see The Thessalonian Epistles by D. Edmond Hiebert. Basically the argument is that the Greek word translated “falling away” means a religious apostasy. The second solution which is possible understands the “falling away” as a reference to the rapture of the church. This view is defended by E. Schuyler English in his book, Re-Thinking the Rapture.

There are four reasons which, when taken together, seem to indicate that Paul was referring to the rapture when he mentioned this term.

Reason # 1: The word which is translated “falling away” can refer to a physical departure. Note that this argument does not say that the word always or even normally has this meaning. “Departure, disappearance” is the second meaning given for this Greek word in A Greek-English Lexicon, by Liddell & Scott, I, 218. Part of the problem here is that this word is used only twice in the New Testament——here and also in Acts 21:21, where Paul is told that some accuse him of teaching a departure from Moses. In this latter passage, this word is used in the sense of a religious apostasy. In the LXX (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), this word or an older form is found in Joshua 22:22, 1 Kings 21:13, 2 Chronicles 29:19, 33:19, Isaiah 30:1, and Jeremiah 2:19. In these cases, the word also has the idea of religious departure. However, either the context or a descriptive phrase is used to indicate that a religious apostasy is meant. Therefore it might be argued that the word itself was more general.

[Editor’s note: most King James advocates believe in a 7-fold refinement of the Bible (Psa. 12:6). Interestingly, apostasia was translated departure the first five refinements: the Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Matthews Bible (1537); The Great Bible (1538); and the Geneva Bible (1560)]

In the New Testament, the verb form of this word is used sixteen times (Luke 2:37; 4:13; 8:13; 13:27; 22:29; Acts 5:37,38; 12:10; 15:38; 19:9; 22:29; 2 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Timothy 4:1; 6:5; 2 Timothy 2:19; and Hebrews 3:12). Of the sixteen references, only three have reference to a religious departure, and these three are qualified by context (Luke 8:13) or by a descriptive phrase (1 Timothy 4:1—”from the faith” and Hebrews 3:12—”from the living God”). It is clear from some of the remaining references that a physical departure is meant (the angel who delivered Peter from prison departed from him—Acts 12:10, and Paul prayed that a thorn in the flesh might depart from him—2 Corinthians 12:8.) This word is translated departynge by William Tyndale (c. 1526), by Cranmer (1539), and by the Geneva Bible (1557). Beza (1565) translated it departing.

Reason # 2: The use of the definite article (“the”) lends support to the view that the falling away is the rapture. The basic function of the article “is to point out an object or to draw attention to it. Its use with a word makes the word stand out distinctly,” (Dana and Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, 137). Paul is not speaking of A falling away but THE falling away. In all probability, Paul is referring to some subject he has previously discussed with the Thessalonians. Robertson agrees with this use of the article in this verse. He states: “And the use of the definite article (the) seems to mean that Paul had spoken to the Thessalonians about it.” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, IV, 49). Now, if this is the use of the article in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, one would expect to find a place, either in 1 or 2 Thessalonians, where Paul previously referred to a departure from the faith. This writer knows of no such reference. However, there is previous reference to the rapture of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1.

Reason # 3: Paul’s style of writing in this chapter also lends support to the idea that the “falling away” is the rapture. In verse 3, Paul states that two events must occur before the day of the Lord can come, namely (1) the “falling away,” and (2) the revealing of the man of sin. Paul’s reference to this second event seems to be more fully described in verses 8–9. If, indeed, this is Paul’s style, then verses 6 and 7, which describe the removal of the Holy Spirit and the church, would be a more detailed explanation of the first event in verse 3 (the “falling away”).

Reason # 4: Paul’s purpose in writing lends support to the view that the “falling away” is the rapture. Remember the setting. The Thessalonian believers were being persecuted for their faith, and they thought they were in the Tribulation. Paul writes to tell them that they can’t possibly be in the Tribulation because two things have to occur before the Tribulation can begin: the “falling away” and the revelation of the man of sin. If religious apostasy is a means by which Paul expects the Thessalonians to know whether or not they are in the Tribulation, then he has failed to prove his point because there has always been religious apostasy, even in the time of the apostle Paul, and the Thessalonians were not in a position to distinguish any present apostasy from “THE apostasy.” However, if Paul was referring to the rapture of the church, then the Thessalonians could know with certainty that they could not yet be in the Tribulation.”[6]

Dr. Ice quotes the experts parsing apostasia in the following excerpt:

“The Greek noun apostasia is only used twice in the New Testament. In addition to 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it occurs in Acts 21:21 where, speaking of Paul, it is said, “that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake (apostasia) Moses.” The word is a Greek compound of apo “from” and istemi “stand.” Thus, it has the core meaning of “away from” or “departure.” The Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon defines apostasia first as “defection, revolt;” then secondly as “departure, disappearance.”

Gordon Lewis explains how the verb from which the noun apostasia is derived supports the basic meaning of departure in the following: The verb may mean to remove spatially. There is little reason, then, to deny that the noun can mean such a spatial removal or departure. Since the noun is used only one other time in the New Testament of apostasy from Moses (Acts 21:21), we can hardly conclude that its Biblical meaning is necessarily determined. The verb is used sixteen times in the New Testament. Of these sixteen only three have anything to do with a departure from the faith (Luke 8;13; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 3:12).

The word is used for departing from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19), from ungodly men (1 Tim. 6:5), from the temple (Luke 2:27), from the body (2 Cor. 12:8), and from persons (Acts 12:10; Luke 4:13).

It is with full assurance of proper exegetical study and with complete confidence in the original languages,” concludes Daniel Davey, [7] ‘that the word meaning of apostasia is defined as departure.’

Paul Lee Tan adds the following: “What precisely does Paul mean when he says that “the falling away” (2:3) must come before the tribulation? The definite article “the” denotes that this will be a definite event, an event distinct from the appearance of the Man of Sin. The Greek word for “falling away”, taken by itself, does not mean religious apostasy or defection. Neither does the word mean “to fall,” as the Greeks have another word for that- [pipto, I fall; TDI]. The best translation of the word is “to depart.” The apostle Paul refers here to a definite event which he calls “the departure,” and which will occur just before the start of the tribulation. This is the rapture of the church.”[8]

The Departing Entendre

We’ve just studied two positions held by scholars that seem distinct and yet I believe they are simultaneously and inextricably linked together. When church departs from earth in the Rapture we leaven being “church” buildings attended by apostate “Christians” that aren’t saved and have spent their lives in Satan’s work.

[1] Quoting the Introduction to Second Thessalonians from the Scofield Study Bible: “The Thessalonian converts were “shaken in mind” and “troubled,” supposing, perhaps on the authority of a forged letter as from Paul, that the persecutions from which they were suffering were those of the “great and terrible day of the Lord,” from which they had been taught to expect deliverance by “the day of Christ, and out gathering together unto him” (2Th_2:1). The present letter, then, was written to instruct the Thessalonians concerning the day of Christ, “and our gathering together unto him” 1Th_4:14-17 and the relation of the “day of Christ” to the “day of the Lord.” First Thessalonians had more in view the “day of Christ”; the present Epistle the “day of the Lord.”

[2] Author, lecturer, and Theology professor at Faith Baptist Bible College, Ankeny, IA.

[3] This would also mean they had not only missed the rapture, but the judgement seat of Christ where rewards (crowns) are awarded in heaven (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10).

[4] A word or phrase having two meanings

[5] An organization he co-founded with the late Dr. Tim LaHaye. http://www.pre-trib.org/

[6] The Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 by Dr. Myron J. Houghton, Ph.D.

[7] [Professor Bible Exposition at Virginia Beach Theological Seminary]

[8] Apostasia: The Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 by Dr. Thomas Ice.

[i] E. Schuyler English

It is well established that E. Schuyler English is thought to be the first pretribulationist to propose that the departure in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 was a physical departure and thus a reference to the pre-trib rapture.  However, history records that at least a couple of men thought of this idea before English series of article in 1950. J. S. Mabie is said to have presented the view that the departure refers to the rapture as early as 1859 during a prophecy conference in Los Angeles.  He later wrote his view in an article published in November 1895 in a periodical called Morning Star.  Another pre-English proponent of the departure as the rapture was John R. Rice in a book in 1945.

Source: http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/the-departure-in-2-thessalonians-23#_ednref11

[ii] Pastor Chuck Smith

The “day” referred to here is the Day of Judgment. “Falling away” comes from the Greek word for “depart.” This may refer to the Rapture of the Church, for the Day of Judgment will come after the Rapture. It may be a reference to people departing from the faith, for Paul spoke of another departure (1 Timothy 4:1) and used the same Greek word. However, in 1 Timothy Paul added the words “depart from the faith” instead of “depart” alone.

Source: The Blue Letter Bible

[iii] Dr. David Hocking

Dr. Hocking’s commentary on the Day of Christ the Lord from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3.

[I transcribed and slightly edited this from a teaching video on the Antichrist and Day of the Lord by Dr. Hocking]. Regarding the start of the Day of the Lord and the appearance of the Antichrist.

The departure of church age believers will come first v3. (1) “except there come a falling away first.” The emphasis is interesting; this is the big event; and then that man of sin will be revealed, the son of perdition. (2) The Greek word for “falling away” is apostasia. Stasia is from a verb histemi, meaning to stand, apo means away from. It is translated normally “to depart.” It is used only twice as a noun: once here, and once in Acts 21:21. It is used 16 times as a verb, aphistemi.. Out of those 16 times as a verb, it is translated “depart” in 11 places. Remember after the temptation of Christ when the angels came and ministered to Christ? It says he “departed.” This is the same word. Well it doesn’t mean He departed or defected from the faith or apostatized. It just means He left. Eleven out of the 16 times it clearly means that someone just left; they departed. Once in Luke 8:13 it’s translated “fall away.” In Acts 5:37 it describes people who “drew away.”  In Acts 5:38 it reads “refrain from these men” meaning leave them.  Now turn to 1 Timothy chapter 4, verse 1: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (1 Timothy 4:1 KJV). Depart is from the same Greek apostasia, but here you have a qualifying clause – “from the faith”. So here it is; apostasy in the traditional sense of the word, a religious departure. The problem is that if that is the intention of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it’s strange that the man who wrote 1 Timothy 4 wouldn’t have put “from the faith” there if he meant religious departure. In other words, the very qualifying words “from the faith” describes what kind of departure it is, but there’s nothing like this in our text. There’s another problem. In our text in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the definite article “the” in the Greek text is in front of “falling away”. Literally “the” departure which implies a specific departure which had to be just mentioned in the context. And as we study the context, where is the specific departure? It’s in verse 1, the rapture which would certainly hearken back to his first epistle when he discussed the great departure at the rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Now if I’m correct, and good men disagree, the point here is that if this were a religious apostasy, it would not be a good indicator since we’ve had a religious departure from the faith ever since the time of the New Testament. First, are things worse today than they’ve ever been? Absolutely! The departure we’ve witnessed from the faith is incredible. But we said that 40 years ago, also. We said that also 100 years ago. We said that also 200 years ago. So, if this is the indicator, which departure would be serious enough to THE departure? Do you understand what I’m saying? In other words, the classic translation of apostasia is departure, and if you are translating literally, that day won’t come – the Day of the Lord – until the departure comes first, and then the man of sin is revealed. I think this is the only way to make sense out of this passage. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlCgFmQMsIg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things That Are Different: Prophecy for Israel and the Mystery of the Church

Dr. Mike Johnston

Someone wisely noted: “things that are different are not the same.” In Scripture this is revealed to us in several areas, most pronounced of course is God’s distinct dealings with Israel and the church. Anti-PreTrib rapturists I believe are involved in a collusion of confusion by refusing to see these Biblical differences as intrinsic pieces to the hermeneutic puzzle.

First, Prophecy (earthly) and Mystery (heavenly) are not the Same

            It is widely accepted that the Bible can be divided into Old Testament and New Testament. However, the Bible is better divided into two more well defined, descriptive terms, and these are prophecy and mystery. Prophecy is basically the purpose God has for the earth and Christ’s reign upon it, which includes the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 24:23; Mic. 4:7). This is the Kingdom of heaven that will in the future be set up on the earth, literally. The Mystery is that body of truth proclaimed by the Apostle Paul, concerning heaven and the exaltation of the Body of Christ in heaven, together there with Christ (Eph. 2:4-10, 3: 1-4).

The very first words in the Bible state: “In the beginning God created the HEAVEN and the EARTH” (Gen. 1:1). It does not say God created the UNIVERSE; it does not say God created the heavens and the earth as many people- and most all erroneous modern translations- make the mistake of saying. It says God created the HEAVEN and the EARTH. This is because He has a special purpose concerning the earth which is completely different from His purpose concerning heaven. His purpose that concerns the earth has to do with Christ’s future reign upon it, and this is the subject of “prophecy” (2 Peter 1:16-19). His purpose for heaven and the exaltation of the Body of Christ there with the Lord Jesus Christ is the subject of the “mystery” (Ephesians 2:4-10, 3:1-4). This is why the Bible is really divided into two great subjects: Prophecy and Mystery!

The Prophecy Program “he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; see Matt. 25:34). It features Israel the unfaithful wife of Jehovah (Jer. 3:20; Hosea) who is currently blind and set aside (Rom. 9-11). Her apostasy notwithstanding, Israel remains God’s elect NATION on earth (Deut. 7:6; [1] 14:2; Isa. 45:4; Psa. 135:4) awaiting an earthly kingdom given through Covenant, with David’s Son – Jesus Christ – as Messiah King (2 Sam. 7:8-16; Zech. 14:9). All prophetic messages given in “time past” (Eph. 2:11-12) enhance or explain the people and particulars associated with Israel’s Kingdom destiny in the “ages to come” (Eph. 2:7). It is Israel to whom God’s prophets presented five covenants guiding and guaranteeing her future on earth including a lineage, land, laws, and a Lord – King – that began with Abraham (Gen. 12; 17; etc) and will continue through the Millennium (Rev. 20). It is for Israel that the earthly kingdom was “prepared from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34) and through whom the Messiah was born and to whom He presented himself and His kingdom (Matt. 4:17) under the Old Covenant for three and one half years only to be rejected and crucified (Matt. 21-27). However, one day His prayer “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth…” (Matt. 6:10) will be fulfilled. This He explained after questions surfaced from Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3) four ministers of the “gospel of the circumcision” (Gal. 2:7-9) regarding the installation of the Davidic Kingdom. After outlining in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21) Tribulation signs coinciding with Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27; Matt. 24:15) – the Lord promised He would return in the Revelation “immediately after (Israel’s) Tribulation” (Matt. 24:21, 29; see Zech. 14; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-21) to set up the Kingdom (Matt. 24-25). 

The Mystery Program was “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25), yet given to Paul by our heavenly risen Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:20) in a personal post ascension revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:1-9). It features the church as the Lord’s BODY (Eph. 1:3; 2:6) and the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33; Rev. 21:9) in a “but now” time-period (Eph. 2:13). The prophets didn’t know about us and never mentioned us, so we aren’t included in the promises and prophecies concerning earth and the future of the NATION Israel. Our inheritance exists “in heavenly places” where we are spiritually sealed (Eph. 1:13-14) and seated in Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6; Col. 3:1-2; Phil. 3:20). We are simply occupying a provisional position during Israel’s hiatus between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week (Dan. 9:24-27) to provoke her to jealousy (Rom. 11:11) until “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). At that precise point, the church which appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) will suddenly disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) wherein Israel’s prophecy program will commence again.

Second, Israel (prophecy) and the Church (mystery) are Not the Same

Israel is an elect nation of YHWH (Psalm 147:20) that exists from prophecy and is concerned with an earthly kingdom. Membership in the Jewish community is granted by physical birthright. The fact that four-fifths of the Bible pertains to Israel, while only one-fifth of it deals with the church [2] underscores without question that Israel is the apple of God’s eye (Zech. 2:8). In his treatise Israel and the Church, Arnold Fruchtenbaum observes:

“The term Israel is viewed theologically as referring to all descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, also known as Jews, the Jewish people, Israelites, Hebrews, etc.” (113). He notes that national election distinguishes Israel from those peoples who were not chosen that we know as Gentiles (113-14). Fruchtenbaum then offers four reasons for Israel’s election: 1) they were “chosen on the basis of God’s love to be ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Ex. 19:6); to represent the Gentile nations before God;” 2) ” to be the recipient of His revelation and to record it (Deut. 4:5-8; 6:6-9; Rom. 3:1-2).” 3) to propagate the doctrine of the One God (Deut. 6:4);” and finally, 4) “to produce the Messiah (Rom. 9:5; Heb. 2:16-17; 7:13-14) (115).”

Through the prophets, Israel (not the church) was given special commissioning and at least five covenants outlining and guaranteeing her future:                First, the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18) whereby God promised to make Israel a great nation in a glorious land that she would possess forever. (Since Israel’s blessings are connected to her land, is it any wonder Satan is using the invented “Palestinians” to steal it from her?). Second, the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 19:25) containing 613 commandments, judgments, and ordinances expressing the righteous will of God in regulating her religious, political, and social affairs (Ex. 19:25). Third, the Land aka Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 30:3) which provided the conditions under which Israel entered and maintained control of the promised land in seven parts. (1) Dispersion for disobedience, Deu_30:1; Deu_28:63-68 (See Scofield “Gen_15:18”); (2) The future repentance of Israel while in the dispersion, Deu_30:2; (3) The return of the Lord, Deu_30:3; Amo_9:9-14; Act_15:14-17; (4) Restoration to the land, Deu_30:5; Isa_11:11; Isa_11:12; Jer_23:3-8; Eze_37:21-25; (5) National conversion, Deu_30:6; Rom_11:26; Rom_11:27; Hos_2:14-16; (6) The judgment of Israel’s oppressors, Deu_30:7; Isa_14:1; Isa_14:2; Joe_3:1-8; Mat_25:31-46; (7) National prosperity, Deu_30:9; Amo_9:11-14. Fourth, the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16) promised the glorious earthly kingdom of Christ “of the seed of David according to the flesh” which secures: (1) A Davidic “house”; i.e. posterity, family; (2) A “throne”; i.e. royal authority; (3) A kingdom; i.e. sphere of rule; (4) In perpetuity; “for ever”; And this fourfold covenant has but one condition: disobedience in the Davidic family is to be visited with chastisement; but not to the abrogation of the covenant 2Sa_7:15; Psa_89:20-37; Isa_24:5; Isa_54:3.[3] Fifth, the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8) which is established on the blood of Christ and better promises, including grace not law, and where Christ- not man- will rule and reign as King of kings forever. Bear in mind, NONE of these covenants were directly made with the church. They’re Jewish! 

The church– on the other hand- is an elect body in Christ (Rom. 12:5) as well as the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). It was not revealed in prophecy and it exists solely from the revelation of mystery the Lord Jesus revealed to Paul alone (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3). Membership in the church is given by spiritual birth rather than physical birth. Her focus is not an earthly, but a heavenly kingdom. In lieu of that, the church has not been consigned anywhere in Scripture to be on earth during the time of Jacob’s (Israel) trouble- aka Daniel’s 70th week, the day of the Lord and the tribulation. The church lives spiritually in the heavenlies (2 Cor. 5:1-2; Eph. 1:3; 2:6; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1) and looks for her Redeemer (1 Thess. 1:10) who could come in the air at any moment to deliver her from the wrath to come prior to the time of Jacob’s trouble (Rev. 3:10; 1 Th 1:10). Having begun in a mystery, the church will vanish in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) thus restarting Israel’s prophetic calendar with the final week of seven years. Israel and the church are different; therefore they are not the same!

Third: the Day of the Lord (prophecy) and the Day of Christ (mystery) are Not the Same

The Day of the Lord originated with nine of the Jewish OT prophets as part of the prophecy program in the “ages to come” for Israel: Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7,8,14,18; 2:2,3; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5). Many prophecies and passages warn about this time using prophesies that occurred in the past to describe God’s wrath in the future. Zephaniah is one with foreboding words: “The great day of the LORD [is] near, [it is] near, and hasteth greatly, [even] the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day [is] a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, … 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. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.” (Zephaniah 1:14-15, 17-18). Other prophets add this will be a time of trembling (Joel 2:1), and destruction (Isa. 13:6; Joel 1:15), featuring God’s fierce anger (Isa. 13:9;  Zeph. 2:2) against his anti-Semitic and atheistic mocking enemies (Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 30:3; Obad. 1:15). Scholars viewing earth’s catastrophes and the cosmic disturbances (sun, moon, and stars) in the day of the Lord have connected it to tribulation passages in the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation [4]  which Moses, the Lord Jesus, and John (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14) referred to as Tribulation. In that day God will punish Israel (Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 20:37; 22:18-22) and the world for sin (Rev. 6-19) including the rejection and crucifixion of Christ while purifying and preparing Israel and the world for the coming Davidic Covenant Millennial Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Isa. 14; 66:16; Jer 30-31etc) where Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah, will reign from Jerusalem for one-thousand years. The fact is, when all passages describing the day of the Lord – are considered with those describing Israel’s Tribulation aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) occurring during Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27), the similarities are undeniable; Israel’s Tribulation is in the day of the Lord.

The Day of Christ is a Christian phrase Paul was given in the revelation of the mystery for the church. As a Hebrew scholar, Paul was well aware of the prophetic phrase the day of the Lord and knew it described the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble. The fact that he opted to use the day of Christ, day of our Lord Jesus Christ, day of the Lord Jesus, and day of Jesus Christ rather than the day of the Lord signifies their distinctions. Arno Gaebelein explains:

“There is an important difference between the day of Christ and the day of the Lord. The day of Christ concerns the Church, the saints of God. The day of the Lord concerns the earth– Israel and the nations. The day of Christ begins when He takes His saints in glory and they are with Him. The day of the Lord will bring . . . the visible manifestation of the Lord from heaven. The day of Christ comes first and the day of the Lord follows [and continues] at least seven years later. The day of the Lord does not concern the saints [the church body- Dr. Mike] at all; it falls on the world. Before the day of the Lord can come, His saints have to be gathered together unto Him. The promise of 1Th_4:16-18 needs first to be fulfilled. (Paul)  uses this hope of being gathered to Christ, when He comes for His saints, as a motive why they should not listen to those who said the day of [Christ] is present. He reminds them of the fact that their gathering unto Him had not yet taken place. How, then, could the day of the Lord be present?” (The Annotated Bible- Arno Gaebelein)

Here are the 7 passages in the chronological order Paul wrote them. Please notice if you will that this is a definite terminal period that includes rewards and rejoicing and affects Christians only.

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (54 AD): Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (2)  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. [Anti-PreTrib writers argue against imminency by claiming Paul taught the antichrist had to appear prior to the Rapture. This, of course, would place Christians in the time of Jacob’s trouble causing them to look for antichrist rather than Jesus Christ. The context of Paul’s words disproves this notion. A forged letter from Paul arrived in Thessalonica claiming the day of Christ (which includes the Rapture and the day of the Lord-or tribulation) was at hand or had begun. If Paul had taught them they were going through the time of Jacob’s trouble, why were they scared since Jesus would after all be returning within seven years? Moreover, why didn’t Paul encourage them to stock pile food, weapons, and other necessities since this would have been the perfect opportunity? The fact is, Paul clearly taught them two comings of Christ: the Rapture where the Lord comes for His church to deliver them from the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble aka day of the Lord which is to come (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:9, 23) and the Revelation where Christ returns with His church after the tribulation: 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; see Matt. 24:29; Rev. 19:11-21].

Here are the remaining verses describing this event. No mention of judgment or any of the woes described by the nine prophets that warned Israel about the day of the Lord:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:8 (59 AD): Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 5:5 (59 AD): To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:14 (60 AD): As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.
  • Philippians 1:6 (64 AD): Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
  • Philippians 1:10 (64 AD): That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
  • Philippians 2:16 (64 AD): Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

The day of the Lord and the day of Christ are different; therefore they are not the same! 

Fourth: the Revelation (prophecy) and the Rapture (mystery) are Not the Same

The Revelation– also called the Second Coming- is for Israel. Keep this in mind and prophecy becomes clearer. It originated through the prophets, centers around earth, concerns the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom in Jerusalem, and occurs at the completion of the great tribulation (Matt. 24:29) also known as the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), and the day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10, etc).

The Rapture is for the church. It originated with Paul, centers around heaven, and is a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) that removes the church (also a mystery) prior to the day of the Lord, at the day of Christ. Once the church is removed, the prophecy clock and final preparations for the Kingdom can once again get underway. [5]

In order to fit the pieces together leading to the Kingdom, we need to understand Daniel’s seventy weeks. The Jewish prophet Daniel saw the Lord’s first presentation of the Kingdom in a prophecy he foretold of seventy weeks of seven years (for Israel) leading to the cutting off of the Messiah (Dan. 9:24-26). With the Davidic Covenant in mind, John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ began preaching Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). This of course was God’s offer to inaugurate the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16) and fulfill Daniel’s prophecy. When Jesus was officially rejected on the exact day Daniel’s seventieth week was to begin, the prophetic calendar for Israel stopped making way for a parenthetic body to be inserted into the fabric of God’s providence- a mystery that was unknown by the prophets- called the church. However, this left unfulfilled one seven year period the prophets and dispensational scholars refer to as the time of Jacob’s (Israel) trouble (Jer. 30:7); the day of the Lord (Isaiah 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 day of the Lord is 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; Rev. 12: the focus is Jerusalem and the abomination of desolation in the Temple Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

Much of the last days timeframe info comes to us from Daniel’s seventieth week which the Book of Revelation reveals as the worst period of devastation and anti-Semitism in world history; the Beast attacks the saints of God (Jews: Dan. 7:18, 21-22, 25,27; Rev. 11:18; 13:7, 10; 14:12; 16:16; 17:6; 18:24, etc). In the end, Israel- at the point of utter annihilation at Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21)- will look up in time to see the nail scarred Messiah Jesus (Zech. 12:10) returning in glory to rescue them from total destruction. His feet will split open the Mount of Olives and He will gather earth’s survivors, separating the sheep from the goats in judgment (Matt. 25:31-33), therein establishing the Covenanted Kingdom of David (2 Sam. 7:16) in Jerusalem. This visible, triumphant return to Israel- called the Revelation is an event the prophets of Israel saw (Dan. 7:13-14). What they didn’t see was the mystery; the church playing a parenthetic role during Israel’s blindness (Rom. 11:25). It was Paul- the converted Jewish scholar- that taught two separate comings of the Lord; one for Israel on earth which he’d learned in his Jewish studies (Dan. 7:13-14) at the feet of the brilliant Gamaliel (Acts 22:3); and one in the heavens for the church he learned from Jesus in the revelation of the mystery (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3) separated by at least seven years that could begin shortly. The former called the Revelation (aka Second Coming) happens on earth and is for Israel; it will be seen by everyone in the world (Rev. 1:7). The latter called the Rapture happens in the heavens and will be seen only by those who look for Him (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; Heb. 9:28). In divine irony, the church- which began in a mystery- will likewise disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).  The Revelation and the Rapture are different; therefore they are not the same!

[1] For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

[2] Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology

[3] Some of this article gleaned from the Old Scofield Reference Bible. We have these Old Scofield Study Bibles in bonded leather, KJV, available for a gift to PMI of $30 to help us minister to you and others. Please remember, when you order from us, you help support us. Stamps are welcome.

[4] We have a book available entitled: Israel’s Tribulation in its Jewish Setting. Write for details.

[5] At some point in the future, God’s program will once again feature Israel. Anti-PreTrib rapturists have identified no starting point for this.

Open Challenge to PreTrib Rapture antagonists

This CHALLENGE is still UNANSWERED

I’m asking ANY PreTrib Rapture antagonist to show me one verse in the King James Bible that specifically names the mystery “Body of Christ” as being on earth for a single moment of Israel’s Tribulation.

PS: don’t use ambiguous words like “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation refer to Israel and or Tribulation converts. I want the name: the Body of Christ.

The Glorious Appearing of Christ – Rapture or Revelation?

Dr. Mike Johnston

What did Paul mean when he wrote: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epipháneia) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)? Our discussion here is from two opposing camps that have formed to answer that question. One believes the glorious appearing (epipháneia) refers to the Lord’s return for His church body before the seven year tribulation which is known as the Rapture (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9); while the other group teaches that the glorious appearing (epipháneia) is the Revelation when Christ returns with His church to set up His kingdom following the tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 29-31).[1] While both the Rapture and the Revelation certainly will be spectacularly glorious events in the eyes of their respective audiences, we believe there are at least 5 problems associated with suggesting that Titus 2:13 features a post tribulation- πιφάνεια- appearance of Jesus Christ.

First: there is a Linguistic problem

When interpreting a passage of Scripture, hermeneutics becomes the default enemy of conjecture in that it demands that each passage be viewed from the perspective of the author and the audience. Our opponents imply that the use of “glorious appearing” automatically defines the blessed hope of Titus 2:13 as a post tribulation Revelation of Jesus Christ (Matt. 24:29; Rev. 19:11). However, when the collective usage is studied contextually, this theory collapses. To begin with, the Greek word is ἐπιφάνεια – ep-if-an’-i-ah which Strong defines as “a manifestation . . . the advent of Christ” doesn’t suggest or demand a particular timeframe but rather allows for it to happen when it will.

In order to understand this better, we’ll briefly survey the 3 distinct usages of πιφάνεια as they are associated with Christ’s appearing: at Redemption, at the Rapture, and at the Revelation (2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:10; 4:1,8; Titus 2:13).

  • The Redemption epipháneia: The Lord Jesus appeared as a Babe in a manger some 2000 years ago: But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (2 Timothy 1:10). (See also Titus 2:11; 3:4)
  • The Rapture (Pre-trib) epipháneia: We believe the Lord Jesus will appear before the tribulation to rescue His body- the church- which is our blessed hope. [2] The following verses provide additional proof texts for a pre trib rapture. Attempting to view any of them from a post tribulation setting dismantles the argument before it begins. My comments are included in [brackets].

    That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:14). [If this is post trib, keeping commands would only be part of a Christian’s duty along with earning a living, buying and selling, and protecting themselves from martyrdom, which Paul never mentions anywhere]

    Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8) [If this appearing is post tribulation, who in their right mind wouldn’t love it and long for it?]

    Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13; cp 1 John 3:2-3) [If this is post trib, we wouldn’t be looking for Christ until the appearance of Antichrist, the mark of the Beast, and 7 years of chaos and catastrophes in the Middle East and specifically in Jerusalem]

The Revelation (Post-Trib) epipháneia: I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2 Timothy 4:1). [Regarding 2 Timothy 4:1, the Believer’s Bible Commentary by Dr. William MacDonald provides this: “In this verse, the Lord Jesus is spoken of as the One who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. The English word “at” might suggest that when the Savior returns to earth to set up His kingdom, there will be a general resurrection and a general judgment. But in the original the Greek word kata literally means “according to” or “in accordance with”. Christ’s appearing and His kingdom are presented by Paul as motives for faithful service. The believer’s service will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but these rewards will be manifested at Christ’s appearing and His kingdom. For instance, those who have been faithful will rule over ten cities -Luk_19:17]. Other Revelation verses to study: (Isa. 66:15-18; Zech. 14:1-4; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:11-21)

Second: there is a Jewish problem

PMI Bible Study Methodology includes an important rule of Bible interpretation: Israel and the church are NOT the same. Israel exists from prophecy; the church from the revelation of the mystery the prophets didn’t receive. From the “law of first mention” we learn the coming tribulation- as an eschatological doctrine- is for Israel (Deut. 4:30), and every reference studied in context from that point onward follows that progressive path through the OT, past the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24) and into the Revelation (Rev. 7:14). Our reference here to “the tribulation” is predicated upon the doctrinal teaching that there is a coming 7 year period (Dan. 9:24-27) whereby God will punish the world while preparing and purifying Israel for the return of Christ to set up the promised Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16) for 1000 years in Jerusalem (Isa. 52; Hos. 3; Zech. 12; Rev. 20:1-7). The tribulation/great tribulation occurs in conjunction with the day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6-9; 34:8; Joel 2; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10), a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1), and the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7); and Jacob is Israel (Gen 32:28). It will include the worldwide worship of Satan through his incarnated son Antichrist who will require a full allegiance to his Beast kingdom by receiving a mark in the right hand or forehead permitting them to buy or sell (Rev. 13:16).

As stated, the entire scope of the tribulation is punishment for sin and preparation for the Kingdom. This is the period Christ outlined in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21) and that is described in Revelation 6-19 as yet future. While there is ample Biblical support for the pre-trib Rapture of the church- created in mystery (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3) that will disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51), there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly placing the church here during any part of Daniel’s seventieth week (the tribulation period) without redefining and reassigning words clearly attributable to Israel (elect- cp Isa. 45:4 w/Matt. 24:22; saint- cp Dan. 7:18-27 w/Rev. 13:7). Therefore, since the church is not implicated in the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), Paul could not have meant that the blessed hope would be the post-trib Revelation where Christ comes to set up His Kingdom.

Third: there is a Pauline problem

Consigning the church to the tribulation is completely out of character for Paul who continually expressed the element of imminence in the return of the Lord Jesus (see 1 Cor. 1:7; Phil 3:20; 1 Thess. 1:10; 2 Thess. 3:5; Titus 2:13). If he meant the blessed hope to be post trib, he did so completely out of sync with all of his other writings. Therefore we conclude the only support for placing the church here for any portion of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) is agenda driven speculation and not in any manner Pauline.

Fourth: there is a Contextual problem

There is no blessed hope in being consigned to the tortures of the coming tribulation and almost certain martyrdom, perhaps by beheading (Rev. 20:4). The fact is, the time of Jacob’s trouble (tribulation) will be the most fearfully violent time in the history of the world. Estimates range as high as 2/3 of the population will be murdered by Antichrist or else perish in supernatural disasters [Read Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; and Revelation 6-19]. That being said, if the church is supposed to be here during this barbarous epoch, why didn’t our Apostle Paul exhort believers to hide from the Antichrist like Christ told the Jews (Matt. 24:16), or avoid the mark of the Beast like John did? Let me answer that. Because the church will not be her during the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7).

Fifth: there is a Contradiction problem

Read the following verses, carefully noting that we return with Christ at the Revelation: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thess. 2:19) (See also Col. 3:4)

To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints (1 Thess. 3:13)

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (15)  To execute judgment upon all . . . (Jude 1:14-15  See also 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 19:11-14)

How can we be on earth to watch for the glorious appearing when we are promised we’ll be with Christ when He is revealed? It is a total contradiction of Scripture and along with the other 4 problems must be rejected.

[1] He returns with all of His saints (1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; Jude 1:14-15; Rev. 19:11-14) to judge between the sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-34) and set up His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem (Rev. 19:11, see Zech. 14)

[2] You may want to order our literature: Introduction to Rapture Apologetics, and Things that are Different.

Right Division teaches a PreTrib Rapture

Dr. Mike Johnston

Right division of the Bible begins by understanding God is 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). All prophecy has been 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 renewing 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 to earth 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 inaugurate 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, Kingdom prophecy 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 the 70th week in the Olivet Discourse where He called it “(great) tribulation” (Matt. 24:21, 29). This same phrase was later used by John in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 7:14) which describes this judgment from commencement (Rev. 6) through to its conclusion (Rev. 19) featuring the return of the Lord of Glory – Israel’s Messiah –  to earth to establish His Kingdom “immediately after” (Matt. 24:29; 25:31-34; Rev. 19:11).

Now herein lies the crux of our thesis: Prophecy assigns the Day of the Lord and the Tribulation to Israel (Isa. 2:12; 13:6; Joel 2; Zeph. 1; Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29) as purification and punishment before the Kingdom (Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19). The Body of Christ – which is currently 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 and, to wit, there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly identifying us on earth 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 in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation specifically refer to Israel or Tribulation converts.

God’s Prophecy Program for Earth Features Israel

April 26, 2018 2 comments

Dr. Mike Johnston

“And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods (2 Samuel 7:23)? “And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:69-70).

If you follow the winding pathway of life God set before the people He created, you find one leading from His heart directly to Israel. It has been God’s plan from the garden to be in fellowship with man as he exercised disciplined dominion over the earth. When Adam sinned, God saved a family (Noah) and waited for a man who would become a nation from his son Shem (Abraham) and God made a Covenant with him. King David – a man after God’s own heart would provide seed for God the Son as the Messiah King, and God made a Covenant with him as well. Think of all God has done with these people:

  • He has called them “Israel mine elect” (Isa. 45:4).
  • He gave them everything they needed for establishing His earthly kingdom including Judaism, desire, direction, people, power, land, health, strength, wisdom and wealth (Deut. 7-8).
  • He Covenanted to David and his family the Kingdomin perpetuity: “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. Psalms 132:11 “The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne” (2 Samuel 7:16). “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,
  • Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah” (Psalms 89:3-4).

Now here’s the gist of it. If you can accept the aforementioned information, you’ll have very little problem understanding the rest of this book – or the last days for that matter. The fact is God forecast His plan for the earth through prophecy with Israel at the core. Places, people, property – all pointing to Jerusalem and the Revelation of Jesus Christ – the King of kings – in full view of the world to establish His Millennial Kingdom at the end of the final dispensation of the Kingdom according to His Covenants in fulfillment of the prophetic word  (Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19:11).

Purpose of Israel

When the Bible refers to “Israel”, it is using a broad-brush term for the twelve tribes we call the Jews–the corporeal offspring of Jacob (Gen. 32:28). God spoke to the Jewish Patriarch Abraham and how far reaching it really was, “And I will make of thee a great nation, [1] and I will bless thee,[2] and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  (3)  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). This will happen sometime in the future when Jesus Christ, King of kings, rules from Jerusalem during His long anticipated Millennial reign.

God’s Earthly Jewish Kingdom Plan

Earth -> ————————————————– -> Jewish Kingdom

Bear in mind throughout this treatise that God’s overarching blueprint for earth is a Kingdom in Israel. Everything in between is an explanation or enhancement of that immutable plan. Dr. Chafer elaborates on the scope of God’s elect by explaining something she enjoys that no other entity in the universe ever has or ever will- her covenantal significance, “An elect, [3] sacred, and everlasting nation is the plan or purpose of God for Israel. This people came into being miraculously as the seed of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. They are the object of immeasurable covenants and promises and this becomes their major identification or destination, for the covenants are secured or sealed by the act of Jehovah. Israel stands alone, in distinction from all other nations combined. Those many nations are known as Gentiles, but Israelites as Jews. Individual Jews are such because of the fact that they were born into covenant relations with God by a physical birth. Herein lies a great contrast, since Christians are such because they were born by a spiritual birth into right relations with God. Because Israel sustains a covenant relationship to God, He gave them a specific rule of life through Moses. Keeping the rule of life, however, did not and could not make them children of Jehovah’s covenant. They were to keep the rule of life because they were already in the covenant. The believer has a rule of life secured by his position under grace today and so keeping this or any rule will not make him a child of God, although being a child of the Father above he should walk according to His revealed will.” (Systematic Theology, 1948- bold added)

The Panorama

Prophecy highlights God’s purpose for Israel which is most unique, is a testimony to the world that God is supreme ruler over heaven and earth. As such, she has been charged with serving as the key unlocking many of the mysteries associated with the earth, and all things associated with it.

  • Israelexists from prophecy and includes 5 Covenants covering her past, present, and future
  • The goal of prophecy – as well as Israel’s covenants – is the glorious appearance (Revelation) of the Messiah – from the lineage of David
  • The purpose of the coming of the Messiah is to establish Israel’s kingdom (Dan. 2:44) of heaven on earth in the city of Jerusalem(Isa. 24:23; Mic. 4:7) – in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16) following the Tribulation – which is the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24-27; Matt. 24-25; Rev. 19-20)
  • Jacob is Israel(Gen. 32:28)
  • The Tribulation trilogy (Daniel, Olivet Discourse, Revelation) is a three-part, end time’s message for Israelunfolding the goals of prophecy through a Progressive Revelation introduced in Daniel’s prophecy where it was revealed and codified into a seventy week period.
  • The term is Seventy weeks” (of seven years- 490 years total, with one still future). It focuses on “thy people” (Jews) in “thy holy city” (Jerusalem), in order to “finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness” (the Kingdom), which means “to anoint the Most Holy” (the reigning King, Messiah).
  • This prophecy continued its Progressive Revelation journey through the Olivet Discourse where the Lord Jesusclarified it and where John in the Revelation will conclude it.
  • All of this is in fulfillment of prophecy as the Lord Jesussummarized in the Olivet Discourse recorded in Luke 21:22: “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Fulfilled for whom? Israel! See also Matt. 26:56.
  • The mystery Body of Christwas never seen by the prophets, so nothing has to be fulfilled through her; the Tribulation is clearly prophecy for Israel.

God’s love and plan for Israel is greater than her disobedience (Jer. 31:3). “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).

Prophets and Promises

“Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets” (2 Kings 17:13).

God’s prophets were men God appointed during a time when there was no completed canon of Scripture. The fact is, Israel owes her existence to the Spirit-inspired prophets of God who witnessed to her, warned her, and predicted her future with 100% accuracy. [4]  We find this of extreme significance when Israel first constituted as a nation under Moses (study Exodus). During his tenure as leader, he was God’s voice to the people. He wrote five Books called the Pentateuch. In these Books (Genesis-Deuteronomy), God taught Moses how to work, worship and walk in the Lord, which included an elaborately detailed system of commandments, judgments, and ordinances. He in turn taught all of this to Israel. He also taught her about God’s mandate for holiness, demanding separation from the egregious occult religious practices permeating Canaan, including child sacrifice [modern day abortion], sodomy [homosexuality], [5] and bestiality that awaited her in the land.

In the end, it was Joshua, not Moses God chose to lead Israel across the Jordan into Jericho and on to the conquest of Canaan. Once settled in the land, evil wasted no time presenting itself in the form of a seductive “religious” system with priests and “prophets” Moses had warned about. In order to distinguish His prophets from the devil’s, God’s men were required to speak bold clear messages that were verifiable by any number of supernatural signs including miracles, and prophesies – both short and long range – that had to be fulfilled with 100% accuracy (Deut. 13; 18; Matt. 26:56). [6]

This was the beginning of the office of prophet originating with Samuel (Acts 3:24). From that time forward, everything the Lord wanted Israel to know, these Holy Ghost inspired men received and relayed: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).  Dr. Henrietta Mears carefully condensed the prophetic topics into four major categories [my comments in brackets]:

  • The dispersion and captivity of God’s chosen people.
  • The coming of the Messiah: [The Jew is still looking for his Messiah]
  • The restoration of the chosen people to their own land under the coming Messiah, David’s greater Son. [This is happening in record numbers today]
  • The reign of the Messiah over the whole earth. (What the Bible is All About, 1953, 1983, p. 209)

Israel exists from prophecy

“And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods” (2 Samuel 7:23)?

We opened our book with a premise that runs throughout our treatise: Israel and the Body of Christ – aka the church– are not the same and neither are God’s plans for them. Israel exists from prophecy spoken by the mouth of the prophets “since the world began” (Acts 3:21), and the church exists from a mystery revealed only to Paul which was kept secret “since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). To briefly contrast them once again:

Prophecy program for Israel: “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). An earthly Kingdom is the promise from “time past” and in the “ages to come”.

Mystery program for the Body of Christ: “… according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25). A heavenly inheritance is the promise made in the “but now” revelation of the mystery.

It’s crucial to Bible study, therefore, to build on the Biblical distinction between Israel and earth (time past, ages to come) the Body of Christ and heaven [7] (but now) – and their distinct programs – because this provides us with a working dichotomy that actually lends itself to sensible systematic theology. It includes separate ordinances for Israel (earth) and for the Body of Christ (heaven) (Jer. 33:25) that actually began without much fanfare in Genesis Chapter One, which is the first mention,[8]

“In the beginning God created the HEAVEN and the EARTH” (Gen. 1:1).

Read what that says carefully. Notice what it does not say- God “created the UNIVERSE”, or God “created the heavens and the earth” as many people make the mistake of saying. It says God created the HEAVEN and the EARTH. This is because He has a special purpose concerning Israel and earth, which is completely different from His purpose concerning the Body of Christ and heaven. While the Body of Christ occupies a settled position in “heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6; etc), Israel [9] is the most important nation in the earth. “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem” (1 Chron. 17:21).  With regard to her overall importance, as Dr. Chafer points out, “Israel occupies nearly four-fifths of the text of the Bible, while the Church, with respect to primary application, occupies slightly more than one-fifth. Because of a strange inattention on the part of many, it needs to be stated that there are two major divine purposes, both quite apart from that which concerns either the angels or the Gentiles. The distinction between the purpose for Israel and the purpose for the Church is as important as that which exists between the two Testaments. Every covenant, promise, and provision for Israel is earthly, and they continue as a nation with the earth when it is created new. Every covenant or promise for the Church is for a heavenly reality, and she continues in heavenly citizenship when the heavens are recreated.” (Systematic Theology, 1948)

Promises for Israel (Covenants)

“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.

God is a covenant [10] making, covenant keeping God and Israel’s history can be traced through the five covenants given by the prophets to Israel, the apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8). The majority of the Scriptures relate in some way to the fulfillment of these important contracts, all of which guide and guard Israel in perpetuity and purpose.

 

Abrahamic

Covenant

(Gen. 15:18)

 

The Covenant Family

Mosaic

Covenant (Ex. 19:25)

 

The Covenant Nation

Palestinian (Land)

Covenant

(Deut. 30:3)

The Covenant Land

Davidic

Covenant

(2 Sam. 7:16)

 

The Covenant King

New

Covenant

(Heb. 8:8)

 

The Covenant Kingdom

(1) Abrahamic Covenant: The Abrahamic Covenant triggers God’s subsequent Jewish Covenants, leading to the final New Covenant. In this original Covenant, God called the family of Abraham to become a nation through which land was given, laws were given, a Kingdom was promised and a King would come.

(2) Mosaic Covenant: God formed a nation to host the Kingdom with Kingdom Laws written on tables of stone. Blessing was in proportion to obedience.

(3) Land (Palestinian) Covenant:[11] God gave instructions guaranteeing Israel would possess her homeland for the Kingdom.

(4) Davidic Covenant:  God promised the nation a righteous King for His everlasting Kingdom.

(5) New Covenant: God promised a better – everlasting- Isa. 61:8 Covenant with His Laws written on the tables of the heart. This is the final Covenant that will exist throughout the Millennial Kingdom reign of Christ. It’s established on better promises than the Old Covenant, resting on an accomplished redemption [the Old was not] securing the perpetuity and future conversion of Israel. The Body of Christ does, however, share in the blessings of the New Covenant, as the blessings of this covenant are spiritual rather than physical.

May I point you to Dr. Chafer’s explanation in the annotation below.[12]

God’s overarching program for the ages is to receive glory and honour and power through His creation (Rev. 4:11). Israel was the nation He chose to showcase His love, power, and sovereignty. All other entities are subordinate to Israel’s covenants outlining God’s plan for earth.[13]

The five Covenants God made with Israel collectively guarantee her a Kingdom as part of His overarching plan for the earth and every one of them were given to her unilaterally by inspired messengers of God.

Time Past: Israel rejected the Kingdom and King

Arno Gaebelein writes: “Now if Israel had accepted the testimony of John, and had repented, and if they had accepted the King, the Kingdom would have come, but now it has been postponed till Jewish disciples will pray again in preaching the coming of the Kingdom, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven.” That will be after the church has been removed to the heavenly places. The history of the Kingdom is given in the second chapter. The Gentiles first, and Jerusalem does not know her King and is in trouble on account of Him.” (Annotated Bible, 1919)

Israel’s corporate rejection and execution of Jesus was more than just an evil act. It was the scheduled postponement of God’s earthly kingdom promised in the Davidic Covenant – for a future day dispensationalists[14] believe is upon us now. Studying the events leading to the rejection of Christ reveals a religious cabal consisting of scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and other fascist hypocrites who plotted to cut off the Messiah as Daniel predicted (Daniel 9:24-26). In all irony, Israel’s leaders – always quick to make others believe they were scholars – should have known the Messiah from their OT studies. They didn’t and as such, received a stinging reprimand from Lord Jesus which appears to have alluded to the coming Tribulation (see full explanation in Annotation below [15], “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes … “ (Luke 19:42).

However, even with Israel’s most favored status as an earthly nation, there’s a problem keeping her from receiving the ultimate promised Kingdom: national repentance!

But now: Israel exists as a disobedient Nation

“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Exodus 19:5-6).

Although somewhat hidden in plain sight, Abraham’s calling reinforces the Biblical division between the stars (heaven) and the sand (earth) that has unfolded before us today. This earth-heaven blessing began when he had his Isaac who in turn had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob whom God renamed Israel (Gen. 32:28) had 12 sons which Scripture often refers to as the twelve tribes collectively known 647 times specifically as the “children of Israel.” It is this collective family – the children of Israel – that are the elect of God with whom God promised to bless if she would obey Him, and chastise her when she didn’t (study carefully Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28).

During her history, Israel has cycled from a relationship to rebellion and back again several times as seen in the Book of Judges: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them” (Joshua 2:11-16).

The unspeakable rejection of her Messiah and resultant international displacement is a major reason Christians buy the lie that the church has replaced Israel. She hasn’t! This teaching is called Replacement Theology and it originates – as Christ revealed – in the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Hitler used similar rationale with infamous consequences. So have Romanists. What the perpetrators of this evil ruse refuse to understand is this: Performance is NOT God’s standard for standing. It’s based on divine imputation (Psa. 32:2; Rom. 4:6-24; etc) Sovereignly, and Providentially rendered (Deut. 7:6-8). Therefore, though imperfect a people as the world has ever seen, from the beginning Israel remains a peculiar treasure (Exod. 19:5; Deut. 14:2; Psa. 135:4; 1 Pet. 2:9) chosen by God for regal purposes that no doubt seem unfair to the world.

Ages to come: Israel’s King and Kingdom

From our studies, we’ve learned that Israel is an elect nation called, blessed, and protected by God through five contracts called covenants. Abraham was the first man identified as a Hebrew.[16] At the time he received the First Jewish Covenant, he had no idea what lay ahead for his progeny and no extended history to which he could refer when judging the future. Moreover, there is no indication he fully understood the broad implication of his family being as “the stars of the heaven” and “the sand which is upon the sea shore” (Gen 22:17). He was simply called by God to believe, and except for a few foibles, he did.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, [17] as it is in heaven” (Mat 6:10). Christ’s words here are part of what’s been termed “The Lord’s Prayer.” They were taught to Jews during His Sermon on the Mount where He outlined principles that will exist in Israel’s Kingdom. It is prophecy, it was under the Old Covenant, it concerns earth, and it is expressly for Israel. It has no bearing on the church and those claiming otherwise are deceived men who can become deceivers (2 Tim. 3:13); a special danger to those who insist on dividing the Bible between the OT for Israel and the NT for the church. These are the ones that automatically assume that the moment Christ appeared, the church is implicated. That simply isn’t true.

When Christ came to earth 2000 years ago, it was to Israel for the purpose of fulfilling the Davidic Covenant by setting up the Kingdom in Jerusalem. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Mat 4:23). The Gospel accounts focus primarily on the Lord’s Messianic Mission to “the lost sheep of Israel” (Jer. 50:6; Matt. 10:6; 15:24). Paul confirmed the Jewish nature of Christ’s calling: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Rom 15:8). [18] Using signs and wonders – proving He was the Promised One (Isa. 7:14; 9:6-7; Luke 7:22) Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah who had come to set up the “kingdom of heaven” [19] on earth. This of course was the kingdom covenanted to David and his seed (2 Sam. 7:16), prefigured by Daniel (7:13-22) and prophesied by John (Rev. 19-22). In lieu of that, both the Lord Jesus and John the Baptist heralded the arrival of the Davidic Kingdom by preaching a clear invitation to Israel: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Israel’s stiff-necked religious leaders – steeped in tradition revolving around greed – refused the offer and made nefarious plans for disposing of the King [20] with nary a heart to repent.

Israel and earth are connected and prophecy is often explaining or enhancing the coming King or the kingdom. Prophecy for Israel occurs either in “time past” or the “ages to come.” Israel’s earthly greatness is founded on eternal promises (Rom. 9:4; 15:8) – called Covenants which are encapsulated in a body of ordinances. Beginning with the Abrahamic Covenant – God assured him of an expansive posterity in a promised land (Gen. 12:1-5; 15:18; Gal. 3:16) bequeathed by God. Along with a large progeny and beautiful land with established laws governing her, God promised Himself as Messiah to Israel, leading the nation into world prominence, power, and peace everlasting (Daniel 2:44-45, Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5). This was one of the Covenants Christ came to fulfill (Luke 1:70-80). With that, God also revealed the lovely Jerusalem as the capital city and the place He wanted the earthly kingdom located (Gen 13:15, Deut 34:4, Psalm 37:22, 102:21; Isa 2:2-4; 4; Zech; Matt 5:5,). The Lord Jesus revealed through the sheep and goat judgment that this kingdom has been in the works from the beginning of creation: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

Once again, we need to bear in mind throughout this treatise the Bible truth that God’s overarching blueprint for earth is a Kingdom in Israel. Everything in between is an explanation or enhancement of that plan:

Earth/Israel/

Nation

(Mystery/Church/Body) Jewish Kingdom
“Time past”
(2:11-12)
“But now”

(Eph. 2:13)

“Ages to come” (Eph. 2:7)

 

Let’s juxtapose what we’ve just learned. When you study Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, the path to God’s blessing is very clear. So is the path to judgment. While Israel will forever be God’s elect nation – He can’t – and won’t – bless sin. God promised Israel,

“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit … and I will give peace in the land” (Leviticus 26:3-4, 6).

Then He added this, “But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; 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 [21] more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:14-18).

Looking in “time past”, this waywardness didn’t begin at her rejection of Christ. It developed much earlier. Richard Milne of Probe Ministries offers insightful comments, “Israel’s history demonstrates that when they broke the laws God gave them, they experienced exactly the results God predicted would happen if they were unfaithful. No other nation has prophesied its own downfall with such accuracy. Thus history demonstrates how accurately God predicted what would happen to Israel if they disobeyed His laws. And what did God predict? To summarize nearly a hundred verses, Israel’s disobedience brought wasted effort in labors; natural disasters such as drought, blight, and locusts to their crops; and disease and death to their animals and themselves. Their enemies would defeat them in battle and besiege their cities, resulting in plague, famine, cannibalism, and starvation. They would be scattered to foreign countries. There some would die; others would live in constant fear of both real and imagined disasters, or turn to other gods. They would be sold as slaves. Their numbers would decline greatly, as they suffered from fearful plagues, prolonged disasters, and lingering illnesses. What an amazing list of disasters!”

Let me be clear. Every Christian should be praying for Israel, God’s elect. However, to support her and pray for her doesn’t negate reality; while chosen, she isn’t perfect. As such, beginning with Abraham God began promising blessing for obeying as well as punishment for disobeying (see Gen. 22:18; Lev. 26; Deut. 28). As a direct result of Israel’s defection, she has been set aside to await national chastising via “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) we also know as Daniel’s seventieth week. During this scheduled Tribulation God will make the adjustments necessary in Israel’s heart to finalize all the Covenants He made beginning with Abraham. Bible students who keep God’s love of Israel and His plans for her earthly Kingdom as the vanguard for interpreting Scripture – such as we are doing with this Tribulation trilogy – are far more capable of construing once obscure passages by keeping in mind the following short list:

  • Israel is a holy [set apart by God] nation by election, the most important in history.
  • Israel is at the forefront of eighty percent of the Bible and subject of all non-Pauline prophecy.
  • Israel has been promised an earthly kingdom and reigning Messiah.
  • Israel is in a covenant relationship with God that guarantees her future and guides her to it.
  • Israel’s imperfection requires a disciplinary measure which is the reason there is a Tribulation coming upon earth (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 30-31). [22]

“For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished” (Jer. 30:11). “The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it” (Jer 30:24).

With the Covenant promise of a coming Kingdom and King, Israel’s current disobedience must be dealt with in order to secure her future. We’ll discuss God’s remedy Tribulation – “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) in the next chapter.

[1] Make no mistake here regarding her entity or ethnicity. There isn’t a shred of Scriptural corroboration for the Body of Christ supplanting Israel in God’s plan for earth, and those who do this in any form teach Replacement Theology -a rank anti-Semitic heresy the Lord Jesus said originated in “the synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Israel is the epicenter of prophecy. She looks forward to the coming to earth of the Messiah from the lineage of David, to the city of Jerusalem (Isa. 24:23; Mic. 4:7), in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16), following “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24-27; Matt. 24-25; Rev. 19-20) God designed to bring her back from rebellion against Him to a relationship with Him (Zeph. 1:14-18; 2; Jer. 30-31).

[2] Many verses reinforce this blessing God made to the Patriarch Abraham. “Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” (Genesis 18:18; see 22:17-18; 24:1; Gal. 3)

[3] Since the Bible is the best interpreter of itself, I can think of only two reasons why so many prophecy teachers   refuse to compare Scripture with Scripture when drawing a conclusion. First, they fail to recognize the importance. Second, it often refutes their ruse. Take for instance the word elect which is one of two “proof text” words misused most often by anti-PreTrib debaters. Please don’t misunderstand my candor, but I understand how easy it has been for end time’s authors to hoodwink folks that have been led to believe all their Christian life that the church has the exclusive use of the word elect when in reality it does not. In the Old and New Testaments, the primary focus of the word elect is Israel.   The First Mention in the Bible links it to Israel’s precious Messiah (Isaiah 42:1) then using the hermeneutic of Progressive Mention (Revelation) Principle we discover in the very next verse that Israel is God’s elect (Isaiah 45:4). Interestingly, the Lord Jesus used this word in the Olivet Discourse when He answered a question about when He would return to set up the Kingdom. He added this to His sterling description of the Tribulation which we know was prophesied for Israel by Moses in Deuteronomy 4:30. Jesus said: “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22). Although the Olivet Discourse is a continuation of the Old Covenant narrative and uniquely framed in a Jewish setting, rogue Bible teachers choose to consign the word elect used here to the Body of Christ so it fits their unprovable presumption. Since most Christians aren’t serious Bible students these teachers can delude them with impunity. Not only is this shoddy hermeneutics, it has been used too long as a cruel means to steal the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)   from the heart   of novice or naïve believers who take the word of man without checking the word of God.

[4] Total prophets number about 56. Not all were writing prophets, however.

[5] Today unrepentant sodomites strut the streets of Jerusalem in full defiance of the Biblical warnings given to the Fathers. Note the prophetic significance in Revelation 11:8. Pray for Israel and the peace of Jerusalem.

[6] Now let’s pause for a moment to comment on the unequivocal qualifier just mentioned. Signs – which included prophecy – confirmed the message by conforming the messenger (Ex. 3:20; 4:8-9; Heb. 2:4; Acts 4:29-31; 14:3; 15:32; 2 Cor. 12:12 etc). In so doing, God’s people knew who to trust. Any violation or deviation of any of these things by any prophet resulted in disqualification and death (Deut. 13:5; 18:20). You would NEVER see God’s prophets parading around in front of a TV camera raising money like the mendacious merchandisers extant today (2 Pet. 2:1-3). In this dispensation “faith cometh by hearing … the Word” (Rom. 10:17. Christians don’t need prophets or signs to confirm the Bible. We are called upon to believe it, and act upon it – period. In light of this, after Revelation (95-96 AD) – the final book of the canon – was completed, the prophetic office ceased.

[7] Heaven and earth are mentioned in the Bible at least 156 times together.

[8] In Hermeneutics, the first time a subject is mentioned in the Bible is how it stands connected in the mind of God throughout Scripture. This is called the Law of First Mention, or First Mention Principle.

[9] She originally became a nation following the Exodus from Egypt under Moses in the 15th century BC. In God’s economy Jerusalem has been and always will be her capital.

[10] The subject of divine covenants is of solemn importance in that they require bloodshed.

[11] Land Covenant wherein God bequeathed the title deed to Canaan that her Islamic enemies are incessantly trying to steal from her. Read Zech 12 carefully!

[12] Dr. Chafer comments on the New Covenant: There remains to be recognized a heavenly covenant for the heavenly people, which is also styled like the preceding one for Israel a “new covenant.” It is made in the blood of Christ (cf. Mar_14:24) and continues in effect throughout this age, whereas the new covenant made with Israel happens to be future in its application. To suppose that these two covenants—one for Israel and one for the Church—are the same is to assume that there is a latitude of common interest between God’s purpose for Israel and His purpose for the Church. Israel’s covenant, however, is new only because it replaces the Mosaic, but the Church’s covenant is new because it introduces that which is God’s mysterious and unrelated purpose. Israel’s new covenant rests specifically on the sovereign “I will” of Jehovah, while the new covenant for the Church is made in Christ’s blood. Everything that Israel will yet have, to supply another contrast, is the present possession of the Church—and infinitely more.

[13] While the Body of Christ is certainly a benefactor to these five covenants, none of them were made with us; they are all purposefully Jewish.

[14] In short, dispensationalism is distinguished by three key principles:  (1) a clear distinction between God’s plan for Israel and God’s plan for the Church; (2) a consistent and regular use of a literal principle of interpretation; and (3) the understanding of the purpose of God as His own glory rather than the salvation of mankind only.

[15] Luke 19:42-44 “Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.  (43)  For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,  (44)  And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

[16] Abram was from the Noahic line of Shem [Semites] and Eber [called Heber, or Hebrew] (Gen 11:10-26; 14:13)

[17] Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. (1 Chronicles 29:11)

[18] The promises were made unto the Jewish fathers; they have no bearing on the mystery Body of Christ which is distinct by decree and dispensation.

[19] Kingdom of Heaven is only mentioned in Matthew, which is the gospel of the King and His Kingdom. See references: Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 5:3,10,19,20; 7:21; 8:11; 10:7; 11:11,12; 13:11,24,31,33,44,45,47,52; 16:19; 18:1,3,4,23; 19:12,14,23; 20:1; 22:2; 23:13; 25:1,14

[20] The rejection of Christ led to the later destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD), Jewish banishment from the land and into many foreign nations of the world who accused and abused them.   Yet, it was in this condition – resulting from the rejection of Christ as Messiah – where they existed as a people without a country until a Spirit driven movement called Zionism surfaced at the end of the 19th century, steered by Theodore Herzl, that led to reconstituting the nation of Israel in her own homeland on May 14, 1948. It is to this nation – and Jerusalem in particular – the Lord Jesus will return to set up His Davidic Kingdom under a New Covenant written on the hearts of His people.

[21] In the Bible, time, times and a half is 3-1/2 years (Dan. 7:25; 12:7). It’s very possible God placed a reference to the seven years of the Tribulation here. Remember, it was Moses who first revealed it to Israel (Deut. 4:30).

[22] The Tribulation is for Israel. It is punitive and preparatory. It has no bearing on the Body of Christ except in the writings of those who understand it least.

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