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Right Division of the Bible PROVES PreTrib Rapture

February 14, 2018 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

The Bible presents God overseeing two overarching programs: one for heaven, the other for earth (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for heaven was unknown. It involves the mystery Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6) “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). His program for earth, however, was well known. It involves prophecy for Israel concerning the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16), aka the Millennial Reign of Christ, prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34) that has progressively unfolded “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70; see Acts 3:21). The prophets exposed and explained five Jewish Covenants God made with Israel to guard her and guide her earthly pilgrimage beginning with the calling of Abraham through the inauguration of the Kingdom. Moses, who first prophesied of a coming Tribulation for Israel also linked it to renewed obedience to the Covenant (Deut. 4:30-31; see Exod. 2:24; 19:5; Lev. 26:41-46) which he warned was the key to continued blessing and possessing the Covenant Land required for the Kingdom (Lev. 26; Deut. 28). However, timing for this Covenant Kingdom was unknown until Daniel codified the final 490-years into a prophecy calendar of seventy weeks of seven years with two stipulations: it MUST be fulfilled by “thy people” (Israel), and it MUST involve “thy holy city” (Jerusalem). (Dan. 9:24-27).

When the Lord Jesus came 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 (Matt. 24:21, 29) where He called it “great tribulation.” This same phrase was later used by John in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 7:14) which describes its commencement (Rev. 6) through to its conclusion (Rev. 19) and the return of the Lord of Glory – Israel’s Messiah –  to earth to establish His Kingdom “immediately after (Israel’s) Tribulation” (Matt. 24:29; 25:31-34; Rev. 19:11).

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

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

February 11, 2018 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

The Bible presents God overseeing two overarching programs: one for heaven, the other for earth (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for heaven was unknown. It involves the mystery Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6) “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). His program for earth, however, was well known. It involves prophecy for Israel concerning the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16), aka the Millennial Reign of Christ, prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34) that has progressively unfolded “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70; see Acts 3:21). The prophets exposed and explained five Jewish Covenants God made with Israel to guard her and guide her earthly pilgrimage beginning with the calling of Abraham through the inauguration of the Kingdom. Moses, who first prophesied of a coming Tribulation for Israel also linked it to renewed obedience to the Covenant (Deut. 4:30-31; see Exod. 2:24; 19:5; Lev. 26:41-46) which he warned was the key to continued blessing and possessing the Covenant Land required for the Kingdom (Lev. 26; Deut. 28). However, timing for this Covenant Kingdom was unknown until Daniel codified the final 490-years into a prophecy calendar of seventy weeks of seven years with two stipulations: it MUST be fulfilled by “thy people” (Israel), and it MUST involve “thy holy city” (Jerusalem). (Dan. 9:24-27).

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

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

Dave MacPherson’s the Rapture plot: weighed and found wanting

February 7, 2018 Leave a comment

by Frank Marotta

Since the early 1970’s, Dave MacPherson has aggressively attacked the pretribulation rapture by attributing its origin to Margaret MacDonald, whom MacPherson considers to be occult influenced. He claims J.N. Darby derived the pretribulation rapture from her and this was done secretly, lest the true origin of the rapture be discovered. MacPherson develops this idea in his books The Incredible Cover-Up and The Great Rapture Hoax. It has been successfully demolished in works by R. A. Huebner, Thomas Ice, and Gerald Stanton, 1 to name a few.

MacPherson’s Seventh Version

MacPherson’s latest book is The Rapture Plot. It claims to reveal “. . . the most astounding historical revisionism of the past century” (p. 138). The plot is that brethren scholar William Kelly used his periodical The Bible Treasury to conceal that J.N. Darby took the pretribulation rapture from the Irvingites. This was accomplished by alleged misrepresentations of Irvingite prophetic views in Kelly’s 1889-1890 articles on the Catholic Apostolic Church. In these same articles Kelly is alleged to have created a smoke screen by emphasizing Irvingite heterodoxy. Then in 1903 (13 years later), having discredited the Irvingites, Kelly was able to credit Mr. Darby with pretribulationism in his article, “The Rapture of the Saints, Who Suggested It, or rather on what Scripture?” This “plot” is considerably more dull than his Margaret MacDonald material and is equally lacking in any substance. That an orthodox Christian such as William Kelly should write articles exposing a contemporary heterodox sect should surprise us no more than a Christian periodical of today printing articles exposing Mormonism. Nor is it shocking that an ardent pretribulationist as Kelly would defend the history and doctrine of the rapture. We fail to see any plot at all.

In our research on Catholic Apostolic and Irvingite works, we have never found a claim that anyone outside their group “stole” their doctrines. Consider the Catholic Apostolic apologist William Bramley-Moore, a contemporary of William Kelly. In his work The Church’s Forgotten Hope, (asignificant work never discussed by MacPherson) Bramley-Moore skips over Margaret MacDonald and credits John Asgill in 1703 as “. . . the only individual who, since the Reformation [until 1830] had given a clarion testimony” to the hope of translation (p. 251)! We will not manufacture a “plot” or “cover-up” regarding the failure of MacPherson and others to credit Asgill. (Asgill taught that individual translation was possible, similar to Enoch or Elijah. His view is distinct from pretribulationism.) More relevant to our discussion, Bramley-Moore never claimed the brethren or anyone else “stole” the Irvingite prophetical views.

Recently, the most extensive critical analysis ever produced on Irvingite doctrine declared that they were still primarily historicist, while Darby and the Brethren had become futurist. Further, Columba G. Flegg notes that the Brethren teaching on the rapture and the present invisible and spiritual nature of the church,

were in sharp contrast to Catholic Apostolic teaching, . . . There were thus very significant differences between the two eschatologies, and attempts to see any direct influence of one upon the other seem unlikely to succeed-they had a number of common roots, but are much more notable for their points of disagreement. Several writers [referring specifically to MacPherson] have attempted to trace Darby’s secret rapture theory to a prophetic statement associated with Irving, but their arguments do not stand up to serious criticism.2

Historical Deficiencies

MacPherson professes to be a historian (p. 233). His work is lacking in historical method. Consider his claim that William Kelly, as editor of Darby’s Collected Writings, manipulated them. Regarding Darby’s Notes on Revelation (1839) MacPherson writes:

We’ve previously noted that a chart (listing no artist or date) accompanying this work shows the church in heaven no later than Revelation 4 -additional manipulation and further contradiction of Darby’s Revelation 12 basis! (p. 152)

I have inspected a xeroxed copy of the 1839 edition of this work published by Central Tract Depot, London. The chart in question is there and shows the church in heaven in Revelation chapter 4! MacPherson’s speculation is without foundation. A true historian would inspect the original source materials before making the claims that MacPherson does. He is governed by an agenda, not a desire for unbiased historical research.

Here are a few of the many deficiencies that I found in The Rapture Plot:

  1. MacPherson states that the key symbol of the pretribulation rapture for Margaret MacDonald is the catching up of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 (p. 47-49). If this is true, one wonders if MacPherson has ever read Revelation 11. Before the witnesses are caught up (verse 12), the beast makes war with them and kills them (verse 7). Thus the two witnesses go through tribulation before they are killed, raised and caught up. So if MacDonald’s teaching is based on this passage, she is certainly posttribulational! Actually, there is no doubt that the woman who said, “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist” was posttribulational.

Morgan Edwards and the Rapture

  1. Recently it has come to light that the 18th century Baptist Morgan Edwards held to a pretribulation rapture (see Pre-Trib PerspectivesSept/Oct 1995). If MacPherson were to regard Morgan Edwards as pretribulational, then both his MacDonald “cover-up” and his Kelly “plot” would be for naught. In The Rapture Plot he recklessly labels Edwards a posttribulational historicist. He writes: “. . . it’s obvious that Edwards interpreted these 1260 days [of Revelation 11] as years” (p.266). This is a blatant falsehood. Edwards wrote in his Two Academical Exercises:

When these witnesses will appear is hard to say; for though their time of prophesying in saccloth [sic] is 1260 days or three years and a half (allowing thirty days to a month) yet they may preach out of sackcloth long before; for the 1260 days refer only to the time that the holy city and the outer court of the temple shall be trodden under the foot of the Gentiles (or Antichrist and his army) viz. 42 months, which make exactly 1260 d

ays, allowing 30 to a month (Rev xi.2). . .” (p. 19)

It is clear from the above that Edwards does not believe the two witnesses had appeared yet. The preaching in sackcloth are 1260 literal days; if they were years (clearly they are not from the context) then they had not as yet begun, which is unlike historicism in any form. The “prophesying out of sackcloth” that Edwards speculates the two witnesses will perform is before Revelation 11:2. Edwards is futurist and literal in his consideration of prophetic time in Revelation 12:7-11 (p. 8), Daniel 8:14 (p. 20), Daniel 12:12,13 (p. 21), Revelation 12:14 (p. 23), and Daniel 12:11 (p. 23).

  1. MacPherson writes on p. 267 of The Rapture Plot:

Edwards’ basis for holding to a rapture three and a half years before the second advent (and a future millennium) may well have been the Revelation 11 witnesses on whom he focused. This chapter has a period of three and a half days (verses 9, 11) that historicism can view as three and a half years. Since the spirits of these dead witnesses conceivably go to be with Christ during the same days, days preceding the final advent-historicist Edwards could see in this symbol a rapture three and a half years before the same advent.

Compare this with Morgan Edwards:

Another event previous to the Millennium will be the appearing of the son of man in the clouds, coming to raise the dead saints and change the living, and to catch them up to himself, and then withdrawing with them, as observed before. This event will come to pass when Antichrist be arrived at Jerusalem in his conquest of the world; and about three years and a half before his killing the witnesses and assumption of godhead. (Edwards, p. 21)

MacPherson’s speculation is without foundation; Edwards distinguishes the saints caught up from the two witnesses, both as to time (the saints caught up three years and a half before the witnesses killed) and identity. Edwards identifies the witnesses as Elijah and the Apostle John (Edwards, pp. 17-19); MacPherson fails to inform his readers of this fact. The catching up of the witnesses is after the three and a half days (verse 12), not before. MacPherson also fails to inform his readers of Morgan Edwards linking the rapture to I Peter 4:17, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (Edwards, p. 7)

  1. MacPherson concludes his section on Morgan Edwards by writing:

Edwards’ scheme of a rapture three and a half years before the end of a 1260-year tribulation has the same tiny gap a futurist would have if he were to teach a rapture three and a half days before the end of a 1260-day tribulation! Since such a futurist view would be seen as a posttrib view, Edwards (who had the same small percentage) should be classified as a historicist posttrib! p268)

There is a footnote attached which states:

Edwards saw a rapture at the extreme end of the tribulation. The mathematics works out as follows: 3.5 years/1260 years = 0.0027 or 0.27% remaining. That means 99.73% of the tribulation was already past before the rapture. Hardly a pretrib rapture! (p. 268)

As already shown, Edwards did not teach anything like a 1260 year tribulation. Nor was he a historicist. Nor was he “posttrib.” But let us apply the same mathematics to some of his alleged pretribulationists. First, consider John Hooper, a contributor to The Morning Watch. MacPherson speaks of “Hooper’s pretrib rapture” (p. 200). He also writes of Hooper as “a historicist who saw the final advent in about 1868, Hooper had 37 remaining years where he could fit in between Revelation 16 and Revelation 19…” (p. 200). Let us perform a calculation: 37 years/1260 years = 0.0294 or 2.94% remaining. That means at least 97.06% of the tribulation was already past before the rapture (assuming Christ could come immediately). Hardly a pretribulational rapture! Perhaps Dave MacPherson will tell us at what number between 97.06% and 99.73% complete we transition from pretribulational to posttribulational. Or perhaps MacPherson could admit Hooper as posttribulational. Next, let us consider the woman whom MacPherson labels as the first pretribulationist: Margaret MacDonald. He wrote on p. 49 of The Great Rapture Hoax:

Margaret, however, had been influenced by historicism and the year-day theory involving 1260 years. . . If only one-tenth of 1260 years remained unfulfilled in her view, she could still believe in a future Antichrist; he would have a total of 126 years in which to do his dirty work.

MacPherson is gracious in allowing 126 years remaining in Margaret’s mind. Especially since she identified Robert Owen, a contemporary, as the Antichrist (The Rapture Plot, p. 53). But applying the same mathematical formula that would mean 90% of the tribulation was complete for her! Applying the same method MacPherson does to Morgan Edwards would make her “hardly pretrib!”

  1. The importance MacPherson places on The Rapture Plot reveals his spiritual condition. He writes on p. 234:

The real test is ahead. If pretrib promoters ignore or twist this book’s documentation, and if their only bottom line is a continuing flow of funds, then I won’t be surprised if God views them collectively as an “Achan” (Josh. 7) and allows a national or even international money collapse!

This statement is incredible. Ignoring The Rapture Plot leads to an international money collapse! This extreme notion indicates the mentality under which MacPherson operates.

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.

Conclusion

Dave MacPherson’s The Rapture Plot is a defective work which distorts history. There is no plot. It misrepresents godly men such as Darby and Kelly. It fails to prove the Irvingites were pretribulational in the 1830s. It is completely inaccurate concerning Morgan Edwards’ teaching. The Rapture Plot has the same character as MacPherson’s previous works. Christians who desire to feed their souls on truth would be well advised to avoid his works. W

Endnotes

1 R.A. Huebner, The Truth of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Recovered (Millington, NJ: Present Truth Publishers, 1976). Huebner, Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J.N. Darby, Vol. 1 (Morganville, NJ: Present Truth Publishers, 1991). Thomas Ice, “Why the Doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture Did Not Begin with Margaret MacDonald,” Bibliotheca Sacra (Vol. 147; April-June 1990), pp. 155-68. Gerald Stanton, Kept From The Hour, 4th. edition, (Miami Springs, FL: Schoettle Publishing, 1991).

2 Columba Graham Flegg, ‘Gathered Under Apostles’ A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 436.

 

Right Division proves Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ

Dr. Mike Johnston

Right Division Thesis Overview

The Bible presents God overseeing two overarching programs existing since the world began. One concerns earth, the other heaven (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for earth was well known. It involves prophecy for Israel – God’s preeminent nation on earth – and a coming earthly kingdom and Temple in Jerusalem (Ezek. 40-48; see Rev. 11:1-2) progressively unfolded to her “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70). His program for heaven was unknown by the prophets. It is a mystery involving the Body of Christ and our inheritance in heaven with Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6), “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25).

An earthly Kingdom has been on God’s agenda from the beginning (Gen. 1-2; Matt. 25:34). It incorporates five unilateral Jewish Covenants beginning with Abraham God’s prophet and father of the nation of Israel (Gen. 15:18; 17:1-14; 20:7; Deut. 9:5; Matt. 3:9; Luke 1:55; etc). It is from this Hebrew lineage (Gen. 14:13) God ordered blessing to flow throughout the world (Gen. 12:1-8; 13:14-18; 15; 17; 22:17-18; see Ex. 19:5; etc). Then, over the years, God expanded the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18; 17:1-14) four times to include Kingdom laws (Ex. 20:1 – 31:18);  Kingdom land (Deut. 30:1-10); and a Kingdom Lord with a New Covenant Constitution granting and governing Israel’s earthly Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:8-16; Matt. 5-7; Jer. 31:31; see Heb. 8:8, 13).

God established a prophecy calendar for Israel’s Kingdom by disclosing everything to “His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). He revealed her Kingdom would follow seventy weeks of seven years broken into two parts: 69 weeks (483 years) and 1 week (7 years) (Dan. 9:24-27). To avoid ambiguity, God stipulated the 70 week prophecy must be fulfilled by “thy people” (Israel) (Dan. 9:15,16,19,24; 10:14; 11:14; 12:1). Then, at the appointed time (Gal. 4:4), God’s only begotten Son Jesus appeared to offer this Kingdom to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 4:17; 10:6; 15:24). However, the leaders rejected Him precisely at the end of the 69th week just as Daniel prophesied (Dan. 9:24-26). As a result, the Temple was later destroyed after Israel diminished (Rom. 11:12), and the prophecy calendar paused making way for the mystery Body of Christ, until “he who now letteth … be taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:7). This will occur at the mystery rapture (1 Cor. 15:51), when “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) followed by Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30-31; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14) aka “the time of (Jacob’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15) that will fulfill Daniel’s final week of 7 years.

Notwithstanding the stark specificity of Israel and Jerusalem in Daniel’s 70 week prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27), a cabal has formed to undermine the prophets by shoehorning the Body of Christ into the center of God’s plan for earth and Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30) where we can’t be seen and we don’t belong. To wit, while a plethora of passages exist identifying Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” Jer. 30:7), the mystery Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from this divine punishment (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). In fact, if the church Body is somewhere present on earth during Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. There isn’t a specific verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and indisputably placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Israel’s Tribulation without redefining the words “saints”, “elect”, and “disciples” which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation link directly to Israel.

Why is Israel’s Tribulation Necessary?

February 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

Answer: repentance of Israel and restoration to the Abrahamic Covenant: “he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them” (Deut. 4:31; see Ezek. 20:37-38 below).

Israel awaits her King and kingdom but she is out of fellowship with God, and God will not bless sin. He made a Covenant with Abrahamic (Gen. 15-18) that was a non-negotiable factor in receiving His blessing. “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you ... And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (excerpted from Genesis 17:9-14).

Israel and the earth rejected Christ and are in sin. “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants [context here is Israel] thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isaiah 24:5-6; see Isaiah 26:9; 33:8; Ezek. 17:18-19)

Punishment and Purging

“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible” (Isaiah 13:11).

Throughout Bible history, Israel rebelled, God responded with judgment, and Israel repented (study the Book of Judges). Although she is returning to the Covenant land as prophesied (Isa. 11:10-12; Ezek. 37:12) she is not in full compliance to the Lord’s Covenant(s). The Tribulation is God’s final restorative act. It is only when His judgments are in the earth that Jews and earth’s inhabitants who survive the carnage will learn righteousness. Punishment [1] and purging will be done as the prophets [2] pictured in punitive and preparatory last day’s Tribulation event (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel 2).

Dr. David Reagan offers this additional insight: “What’s it all about? Why is there going to be such carnage? How could a God of grace, mercy and love allow such an outbreak of unbridled terror and bloodshed? One reason is to satisfy the justice of God. Yes, God is characterized by grace, mercy and love, but He is also a God of perfect justice, righteousness, and holiness. Therefore, He must deal with sin. His justice demands it. Even His love compels it. How could a God of true love simply overlook the actions of a murderer or a pedophile? The prophet Nahum understood the true nature of God. He wrote that “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7). That is the love and mercy of God. But the same prophet wrote (Nahum 1:2-3): A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” [3]

But “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 [4] more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:15-18).

“And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin … When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (Isaiah 1:25; 4:4).

The solemnity of this time is staggering: “For it is the day of b, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion … For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates” (Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10).

Israel’s Tribulation, therefore, is God’s preparatory and punitive judgment on sin. “And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.” (Ezekiel 20:37-38)

Israel’s prophets agree:

Ezekiel: “And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me …” (Ezekiel 20:38).

Zephaniah: “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” (Zephaniah 1:17).

Isaiah also warned: “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left” (Isaiah 24:4-6).

In breaking Covenant with God, Israel has established herself as the enemy of God (James 4:4).[5] Nahum warns: “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies” (Nahum 1:2).

Let’s consider something extremely important. The Tribulation from beginning to end is God’s wrath against His enemies. The church isn’t His enemy. We are the Bride and Body of Christ and Christ will not exercise wrath against His Bride or Himself.

The Tribulation is God’s wrath (Isa. 13:13; Rev. 14:10, 19; 15:1) and His vengeance (Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10) [6] exercised on behalf of Israel’s disobedience. [7] His wrath will also encompass all anti-Semitic earth dwellers [8] (see Isa. 24; Rev. 3:10; 6-19) hating and opposing Israel (Gen. 12:2-3; Deut. 30:7; Psa. 2:1-5; Isa. 41:11; Matt. 25:31-46). God’s wrath (Rev. 14:10, 19; 15:1; etc) will continue until the Revelation of Christ to Israel (Rev. 19:15). The wrath begins with the Lamb (Rev. 6:16-17), rejected, beaten and murdered some two thousand years ago. How fitting that the inhumane treatment Christ received was stored up by God to mete out against Israel and earth’s godless during this unparalleled carnage (Jer. 16:18; now. During this awful time the nation of Israel will be invaded and suffer the loss of two thirds of its population according to Zechariah 13:7-9 pushing her to the brink of annihilation at the valley of decision known as Armageddon (Joel 3:14; Rev. 16:16).

[1] For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion (Isa. 34:8).  For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates (Jer. 46:10).

[2] Total prophets number about 60 or so. Not all were writing prophets, however.

[3] http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-nature-and-purpose-of-the-tribulation/

[4] The word “times” is used in Daniel (the prophecy Rosetta Stone) as a reference to years (Dan. 7:25; 12:7). Seven times used here may be a veiled reference to the seven-year Tribulation.

[5] Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)

[6] “For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion … For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates” (Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10).

[7] As Dr. Scofield points out, for apostasy there is no remedy but Judgment (Isa. 12:7, 24-25; Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31). God has done this throughout Israel’s idol worship and rebellious history (2 Chron. 34:25; 36:16; Ezra 5:12; 8:22, etc.)

[8]Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. (Isaiah 13:9-13)

The 5 Covenants of Israel – Guard and Guarantee her future Kingdom

February 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston, Editor

Our studies of prophecy (Israel, earthly kingdom) and the mystery (church, heavenly kingdom) have taught us that Israel was created, led, and blessed from the prophetic Word. In order to understand Israel’s future, one must understand her past, pictured in  five covenants God made exclusively with her. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum offers this: “Since much of God’s relationship to man is based upon covenantal relationships, a study of the eight covenants is a very important aspect of correctly understanding Scripture. The most common way to divide the Bible is by Dispensations. The dispensations, however, are based upon specific covenants, and knowledge of these covenants will help Bible readers to “rightly divide the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). Although the dispensations may come to an end, the covenants themselves often continue.”

 Types of Covenants

A covenant is a unilateral or bilateral grant or promise that can be signed, sealed, and implemented. Three different things happen once a covenant is sealed: first, some go into effect right away; second, some provisions go into effect in the near future, which may be twenty five years away or five hundred years away; and third, some provisions go into effect only in the distant prophetic future, not having been fulfilled to this day. There are two types of covenants in the Bible: conditional and unconditional.

 

  • 2 Conditional Covenants– 2 (Edenic and Mosaic): A conditional covenant is a bilateral covenant in which a proposal of God to man is characterized by the formula: if you will, then I will, whereby God promises to grant special blessings to man providing man fulfills certain conditions contained in the covenant. Man’s failure to do so often results in punishment. Thus one’s response to the covenant agreement brings either blessings or cursings. The blessings are secured by obedience and man must meet his conditions before God will meet His (see Lev. 26; Deut 28).
  • 6 Unconditional Covenants (Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, New): An unconditional covenant is a unilateral covenant and is a sovereign act of God whereby He unconditionally obligates Himself to bring to pass definite blessings and conditions for the covenanted people. This covenant is characterized by the formula: I will, which declares God’s determination to do as He promises. Blessings are secured by the grace of God. There may be conditions in the covenant by which God requests the covenanted one to fulfill out of gratitude, but they are not themselves the basis of God’s fulfilling His promises.

God Made Eight Covenants

Of the eight covenants God made, the first three were made with man while the remaining five were made exclusively with Israel. Only one of these is conditional: the Mosaic Covenant. The other four covenants with Israel are unconditional: the Abrahamic Covenant (promise of a nation), the Land Covenant (promised land of Canaan- Israel), the Davidic Covenant (promised an everlasting king and kingdom), and the New Covenant (promised eternal salvation).

Four things should be noted concerning the nature of the unconditional covenants God made with Israel:

  • First: they are literal covenants and their contents must be interpreted literally as well.
  • Second: the covenants that God has made with Israel are eternal and are not in any way restricted or altered by time.
  • Third: it is necessary to re-emphasize that these are unconditional covenants that were not abrogated because of Israel’s disobedience; because the covenants are unconditional and totally dependent upon God for fulfillment, their ultimate fulfillment can be expected.
  • Fourth: these covenants were made with a specific people: Israel (not the church). This point is brought out by Paul in Romans 9:4: who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. This passage clearly points out that these covenants were made with the covenanted people and are Israel’s possession.

This is brought out again in Ephesians 2:11-12: Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. As stated, five of the eight Bible covenants belong to the people of Israel and, as this passage notes, Gentiles were considered strangers from the covenants. 

God’s 3 Covenants with Man

  • Begin the Dispensation of Innocency (Gen. 1:28) [All references below can be studied fully in the Old Scofield Bible]
  • The EDENIC Covenant (conditional), Gen. 1:26-31;2:16-17 Made with Adam in which life and blessing or death and cursing depended on the faithfulness of Adam. Adam and Eve failed, died spiritually and physically and their sin plunged the whole human race into its pattern of sin and death. 
  • Begin the Dispensation of Conscience (Gen. 3:23)
  • The ADAMIC Covenant (unconditional), Gen. 3:16-19 Here God declares to man, after the fall, what his lot in life will be because of his sin. It includes the promise of the Redeemer. 
  • Begin the Dispensation of Human Government (Gen. 8:21)
  • The NOAHIC Covenant (unconditional), Gen 9:1-18 Made with Noah and his sons after the flood, introducing human government to curb sin, the normal order of nature reaffirmed (Gen. 8:22; 9:2) and the permission for man to eat the flesh of animals. Also His promise never to destroy all flesh again by water. 
  • Begin the Dispensation of Promise (Gen. 12:1)

God’s 5 Covenants with Israel – Leading to the Earthly Kingdom and King

  • The ABRAHAMIC Covenant – Kingdom family chosen (unconditional), Gen. 12:1-4; 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8 This Covenant is the first God made with Israel and the one from which all others derive. By divine decree, Abraham received posterity, prosperity, and title deed to a promised land. Through Abraham would come a great nation (Israel) and through him (via that nation) all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Messiah). Through Abraham’s descendants (the Jews) came the prophets of God, the writers of God’s written Word (the Bible) and Christ/Messiah according to the flesh. Begin the Dispensation of the Law (Ex. 19:8)
  • The MOSAIC Covenant – Kingdom nation assembled and its laws established (conditional), Ex. 20:1 – 31:18 It is contained in Exodus but amplified in many other portions of Scripture. It was given through Moses as its mediator for the purpose of governing Israel’s (national) relationship with God. It was mainly made up of (a) the commandments, the express will of God, (b) the judgments, the social and civic life of Israel, (c) and the ordinances. It was temporary and would terminate at the cross of Christ. Though it had gracious elements it was basically a covenant of works. It could not impart life to the sinner in Adam (Gal. 3:21) but it served as a tutor which would lead those who were under its jurisdiction to the only One who could impart LIFE (Christ Jesus, Gal. 3:24). [Israel will rebuild Temple and reinstitute blood sacrifices during the day of the Lord- Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:4]
  • The LAND Covenant – Kingdom Land guaranteed in perpetuity (unconditional), Deut. 30:1-10 God promised land to Abraham. This Covenant assures Israel will have that land forever. However, it is erroneously called the “Palestinian Covenant” in that the Bible does not assign to it that name. It is the land of Israel because it was divinely covenanted to Abraham’s descendants through Jacob (Israel). It is an unconditional promise regarding Israel’s final possession of their ancient land (study Gen. 12-17).
  • The DAVIDIC Covenant – King’s seed chosen (unconditional), 2Sam. 7:4-16; 1Chron. 17:3-15 God promised David an unending, royal lineage, throne, and kingdom. Though God reserved the right to interrupt the actual reign of David’s sons for chastisement, the perpetuity of the covenant cannot be broken. The Abrahamic Covenant launched the nation and the Land Covenant promised them property, the Davidic Covenant guarantees an everlasting Throne, King and Kingdom connected to that people (the Jews) and the land of Canaan. Jesus Christ, the Son of David, is the rightful heir of this promised Throne (Matt. 2:2; Lk. 1:32-33) and on it He will reign over this literal, promised, earthly, future Messianic Kingdom from Jerusalem at His second advent. Begin the Dispensation of Grace (John 1:17)
  • The NEW Covenant – The Kingdom commences with laws written upon hearts (unconditional), Jer. 31:31-40 It is a new covenant with Israel in contrast with the old (Mosaic, “which they broke,” Jer. 31:32). Christ Jesus is the Mediator (in His blood) of this new covenant which was inaugurated at the cross and is described in Scripture as, “enacted on better promises” (Heb. 8:6). The Mediator of this covenant has become, for all mankind, “the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9) to all who obey Him; as well as the cornerstone and Head of the Church (Eph. 2:20-22; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23) which is being built during this dispensation; individuals called out from both Jews and Gentiles alike. Ultimately and literally, this new covenant with its unconditional and eternal blessings will be established with NATIONAL Israel at Christ’s second advent to earth. Begin the Dispensation of the Kingdom on through Eternity (Eph. 1:10)

It’s Israel’s Earthly Kingdom by Covenant –

February 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

When the Word is rightly divided, we find that it is Israel, not the church, that was promised a coming kingdom of heaven which occupied much of the preaching of John the Baptist, Christ and the twelve disciples (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; see Gal. 2:7-9). It will one day emerge in fulfillment of the unconditional Davidic Covenant which was built upon the Abrahamic. Prophecy – via progressive mention or revelation – reveals this kingdom will last on earth 1000 years (revealed in Rev. 20:2-7) of unprecedented peace (Micah 4:2-4; Isaiah 32:17-18), joy (Isaiah 61:7, 10), comfort (Isaiah 40:1-2), prosperity, and health (Amos 9:13-15; Joel 2:28-29). It’s location is Jerusalem, the blessed Zion of God (Isa. 30:19).

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 was presented, rejected, and yet one day will return to fulfill the Lord Jesus’s prophetic prayer, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth…” (Matt. 6:10). It is to Israel the Lord Jesus explained this Davidic Covenant Kingdom will be inaugurated following His visible Revelation in Jerusalem (Matt. 24; see Zech. 14; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-21) “immediately after the Tribulation” (Matt. 24:21, 29). 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 the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18) and will continue through the Millennium.

First, God chose to bless Abraham and His family [nation of Israel, Jews] as the source of blessing: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 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).

Second, David’s seed, which is from the lineage of Abraham, was promised the throne forever:

“And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

Third, Daniel saw the Kingdom given to Israel at the Revelation of the Messiah (Christ): “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed … But the saints of the most High [Jews] shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever … Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High [Jews]; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom … And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High [Jews], whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:13-14, 18, 22, 27).

Fourth, Christ came as the Son of Abraham and of David to fulfill the Covenant and claim the throne: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham …Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven … ” (Matthew 1:1; 6:10).

Fifth, the Covenant, the Kingdom, and the King were summarily rejected on the day Daniel predicted (Dan. 9:24-25). King Jesus was crucified, yet resurrected, and after forty days of further kingdom instruction (Acts 1:3) – ascended to heaven, and a seat at the right hand of God.

Sixth, prompted by questions from four Jewish patriots (Peter James, John, and Andrew – Mark 13:3) wondering when Christ would inaugurate Israel’s Kingdom, Jesus promised to return at the end of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:29; see Zech. 14:4-5; Rev. 19:11; etc) to set up the Covenant kingdom Israel had rejected (Matt. 21-27).

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