Dr Mike Johnston
Deceivers are a coagulation of corruption gathering everywhere. Most recognizable and insidious is the lying liberal media hiding behind the First Amendment directed by a cabal of deviants committed to propagating a godless political agenda based on Leviticus 18 values using intimidation and prevarication as their stock in trade to get there. Its deserved title is fake news and more and more American’s like fiddle man Charlie Daniel’s are recognizing it and speaking out against it: “The news is not about news anymore. It’s about protecting some people, destroying others and shoving a socialist agenda down the collective throats of America.”
In all honesty, when the term fake news began appearing in the 2016 presidential election, I wasn’t that surprised. Several years ago, I heard Rush Limbaugh explain the phenomenon to a dismayed caller concerned about the puzzling effectiveness of despicable defamations marshaled against innocent people while casting truth to the wind,
“The evidence is irrelevant; it’s the seriousness of the charge that matters.”
Since the seriousness of an accusation now takes precedence over its truthfulness, by default it enforces it. This not only empowers deceivers with a ready tool for destruction, it renders a defense impossible for honest men. To wit, Mark Twain was correct in lamenting, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.”
Mr. Twain’s axiom is the essence of this chapter highlighting its predictable expectation. For all who think it could never happen to us, it not only can, it already has. A shocking fake news story infiltrated the church some 40 years ago, lacking reliable evidence to support it and yet was believed and ballyhooed simply because of the seriousness of the charge …
“The PreTrib Rapture is a Giant Hoax
that didn’t exist until 1830”
Considering the incalculable number of Christians holding forth the PreTrib rapture as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), this is a very serious allegation. I know because I witnessed its damage first hand. However, while I was for a period deceived by this, over time I began spotting inconsistencies in the argument warranting a closer investigation, which ultimately produced the following summary observation:
This 1830 rapture origin allegation is itself a recently concocted giant hoax.
I discovered it originated with a disgruntled and delusional rapture-loathing reporter named Dave MacPherson (DM). I use the word delusional cautiously but purposely. While DM has every right to his opinion. He does not however have the right to invent his own facts when stating it. That isn’t scholarship. It’s scandalous. How his conscience allows him to get away with this is I’m afraid a testimony to Paul’s warning: “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; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
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.
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  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. 
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  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:
- The PreTrib rapture didn’t exist until 1830 
- A demon possessed charismatic member of Edward Irving’s Catholic Apostolic Church by the name of Margaret MacDonald – conjured it up in a vision 
- John Nelson Darby [a dispensational scholar who considered charismatics mystics and spiritualists anathema] embraced it as a revelation from God and pilfered  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.  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.” 
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.” 
 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
 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.
 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.
 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]
 “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]
 If Margaret MacDonald is the originator of the PreTrib rapture, why are there no records of her contesting Darby’s theft?
 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.
 More information available at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret: MacDonald: (visionary)
Dr. Mike Johnston
What ardent PreTrib antagonists miss is what’s driving their error: Israel’s tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ!
The Bible presents God overseeing two overarching programs: one for heaven, the other for earth (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for heaven involves the mystery Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6), “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). His program for earth involves prophecy for Israel concerning the coming Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16) aka the Millennial Reign of Christ prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34), promised and propagated through His Covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12, 15, 17). From there, Israel’s earthly future has progressively unfolded to her “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70) in “time past” (Eph. 2:11-12; see Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 14:16; Heb. 1:1) to be fulfilled in the “ages to come” (Eph. 2:7). The Covenant Kingdom will be inaugurated following the Revelation of the Lord Jesus to Israel (Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11-21) which occurs “immediately after the Tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:29) or Daniel s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27), a time when God will punish the world for sin while preparing Israel for the Kingdom (Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 20:37; 22:18-22; Hos. 5:15). If the Body of Christ (church) is present on earth during Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. To wit, while we can easily find Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth in Tribulation “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1) passages of Scripture (Deut. 4:30-31; Isa. 2; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7-12; Joel 2; Zeph. 1) – the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from this divine punishment (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). In fact, there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and unequivocally placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Israel’s holocaust without redefining the words “saints” and “elect”, which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation are specifically linked to Israel.
Excerpted from my book: Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ
Dr. Mike Johnston
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) [italics added].
Two programs unfold from the first verse of Scripture: one for heaven, the other for earth. However, until you understand how God hid the heavenly program while disclosing the earthly program, Scripture will at best be enigmatic.
THE PREMISE OF THE TRIBULATION TRILOGY
The premise of The Tribulation Trilogy is simple. Israel and the church are not the same. In fact, they are as different as heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1), and mystery and prophecy; each with separate programs governing them (Rom. 16:25; Acts 3:21). It’s not difficult to see the divisive results from disregarding this God ordained distinction. Dr. Noah Hutchings observed, “If only Christians would hear what God has spoken to them during this age, and claim that which God has given to us and let Israel have that which God has promised to them in the Covenants, then all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour could fellowship one with another. If Christians would rightly divide the Word, then all Scriptures would fall into their rightful place.” (Why So Many Churches, 1992)
To begin with, Israel is God’s premier elect NATION on earth (Deut. 7:6; Isa. 45:4). She exists from prophecy spoken in “time past”  by the mouth of the prophets “since the world began” (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; see Matt. 25:34). Bear in mind, prophecy enhances or explains events surrounding earth, and Israel’s divine appointment to earth’s destiny, featuring the King and His Kingdom.
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 and will continue through the Millennium. 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’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). 
The church, on the other hand, has NO inheritance on earth, and no sustaining purpose here (study Eph. 1-3; Col. 3:1-6). She is the Lord’s heavenly BODY (Eph. 1:3; 2:6); a mystery “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25), given to Paul alone 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). Currently the church occupies a temporary position on earth during Israel’s hiatus between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week (Dan. 9:24-27) to provoke her to jealousy (Rom. 11:11). The Body of Christ was unknown to any of the prophets (Col. 1:26) and therefore was never included in their earthly prophecies featuring Israel’s Davidic Kingdom, and tribulation (“Jacob’s trouble” – Jer. 30:7) preceding it. In simplest terms, the church that appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25)  during Israel’s blindness (Rom. 11:7), will disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) when “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). Once the Body of Christ (church) is gone, Israel’s prophecy clock will resume at Daniel’s seventieth week (one week of seven years – see Dan. 9:27; Rev. 11:2-3), the time of Jacob’s trouble that Jesus referred to as tribulation (Matt. 24:29).
Truth about the Tribulation
One highly disputed Bible doctrine is the tribulation. Retrospectively, over the past forty years I’ve found opinions surrounding it such as its name, length, participants, purpose, and timing of the Lord’s return, to be as vicious  as they are varied and vacuous. This need not be. From the first mention  in Deuteronomy 4:30-31 (we’ll examine more carefully later) through Revelation 19, it is pictured as a time of trouble for Jacob, and Jacob is Israel (Gen. 32:28; Deut. 31; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15). God designed it to ultimately lead His rebellious, stubborn hearted Jewish people into repentance preparatory to the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Rev. 20) in Jerusalem. One can be sure, “in that day” (Isa. 2:11, 17, 20; 11:11; Jer. 30:8; etc); “the day of the Lord” (Isa. 2:12; 13:6; 13:9; Jer. 46:10; etc), “a day of darkness and of gloominess” (Joel 2:2), the wayward, blind, and slumbering Israel (Rom. 11:8) will awaken to find herself once again on center stage fulfilling Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27), (study Isaiah 2; 24; Joel; Zephaniah, Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; and Revelation 6-19), currently on hold. The tribulation week will be followed by the Revelation of Jesus Christ predicted for Israel “in time past” (Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Acts 14:16; Rev. 19:11-21) to occur in the “ages to come”.
When studied in totality, the tribulation is for Israel, God’s foremost nation on earth (Isa. 2; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zeph; Rev. 3:10; 6-19). It is prophesied to Israel (Deut. 4:30); it is punishment of Israel (Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 20:37; 22:18-22; Zeph. 1:14-18); and it is preparation for Israel’s Kingdom and King (Jer. 30:3-11; Hos. 5:15). Every Bible reference to it speaks of one of these three things. By prescription – written from the pen of Providence – it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the Body of Christ – provable by Scripture studied in context. Case in point: Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations of the world are mentioned often and thus highly visible during the horrors of this tribulation holocaust (Isa. 2; Dan. 7-12; Joel 2; Zeph. 1-2; Zech. 12-14; Rev. 6-19). However, the Body of Christ (church) is not. In fact, if the church is present on earth during a single moment of the time of “Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1-2), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. Consider this example (not necessarily offered as exclusively conclusive): The Holy Spirit lavishly used the word “church” 19 times in Revelation 1-3, and yet He never specifically mentions the church or Body of Christ once during the tribulation which occurs between Revelation six and nineteen. Why is this?
There are only three possible explanations: First, it was an oversight, which omniscience renders impossible. Second, it was intentional to keep us from knowing we’re destined for the tribulation horrors of the wrath of God (Rev. 6-19) which is equally absurd. Third, the heavenly Body of Christ, His church – promised deliverance “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10), and “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10; see also 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 4:1) is NOT here! This is the only choice an impartial eye can see through the objective lens. There isn’t a verse anywhere in the King James Bible clearly placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27) without redefining the words “saints” and “elect”, which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation specifically refer to Israel in the tribulation (Deut. 4:30).
 Paul provides us with a three-fold perspective for studying the Bible: past, present, future. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past (see Acts 14:16) Gentiles in the flesh, But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (excerpted from Eph 2:6-13).
 God’s purpose for earth is a kingdom in Israel. All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints [Jews] shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. (Psalms 145:10-13 – my comment in brackets)
 It’s important to know that the tribulation constitutes an unprecedented period of punishment, and purification of Israel in preparation of the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Rev. 20) in Jerusalem following the Revelation of Jesus Christ predicted for Israel in time past (Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Rev. 19:11-21) to occur in the ages to come. The tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ, aka the church.
 More information on the mystery nature of the Body of Christ discussed in Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:24-27.
 For merely disagreeing on the timing of the rapture, I’ve been insulted, cussed out, had my salvation impugned, as well as my intelligence. I’ve even been threatened with bodily harm, all by men who claim to be bearers of truth as “new creatures” in Christ.
 The Law of First Mention teaches that the first time a subject is mentioned in the Bible is how it stands connected in the mind of God throughout Scripture.
Excerpted from my book: Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ
Dr. Mike Johnston
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) [italics added].
Two programs unfold from the first verse of Scripture: one for heaven, the other for earth. However, until you understand how God hid the heavenly program while disclosing the earthly program, Scripture will at best be enigmatic.
Prophecy – Israel – Earth
As introduced in the previous chapter, the Prophecy Program is God’s plan for earth featuring Israel and her kingdom “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).
The prophecy program came through the prophets of Israel and features her as the unfaithful wife of Jehovah (Jer. 3:20; Hosea) who is currently blind and set aside (Rom. 9-11).  When excoriating Jews for their rejection of Christ, His Covenant kingdom, and His ultimate crucifixion he said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (Acts 3:24-25)
Her apostasy notwithstanding, Israel remains God’s elect NATION on earth (Deut. 7:6; 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).
Fact: 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).
Fact: God never advanced His program for Israel or earth without revealing it to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). It was prophecy – not mystery – that pronounced the upcoming Day of the Lord –that includes the Tribulation for Israel first prophesied to her by Moses (Deut. 4:30). The prophets never saw the Body of Christ and thus didn’t include it in their writings. Since Israel is destined for her earthly kingdom, God must ultimately reinstate her to prophetic significance, which fits perfectly with Daniel’s seventieth week. In a precious twist of divine irony, prophecy (Israel, earthly) gave way to mystery (the church, heavenly) at Daniel’s 70th week; now mystery must give way to prophecy, which will resume for the one week still future.
Fact: The foremost intention of the prophecy program is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth as promised to Israel in the Covenants. Had Israel accepted her Messiah (study carefully Peter’s appeal in Acts 2-3), there would have been no Body of Christ. However, that COULD NOT happen since the word is forever settled in heaven (Psa. 119:89). In the overwhelming body of Biblical text – eighty percent for Israel – the prophets predicted a future where King Jesus will rule the earth from Jerusalem, Israel. The Body of Christ is merely provisional “fill in” on earth during Israel’s blindness, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). Once we are removed, Daniel’s  prophecy clock which paused at Christ’s rejection by Israel (Dan. 9:24-27) will begin ticking again. Until that time, we will remain on earth – an unknown entity to any of the prophets – provoking Israel to jealousy.
Fact: Israel is God’s elect nation that exists from prophecy given by inspired messengers of God called prophets (Heb. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:21). When collating prophecy verses, it becomes clear that the subject is often the glorious appearance (Revelation) of the Messiah on earth to establish Israel’s kingdom under the lineage of David in the city of Jerusalem (Isa. 24:23; Mic. 4:7). Keep in mind this kingdom has been in the works for thousands of years as the Lord Jesus revealed at the sheep and goat judgment: “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).
Fact: Separating the Old Testament from the New is very important. Anything occurring prior to the death of the testator is Old Testament (Heb. 9:16-17) and is for Israel.  This includes the sermon on the mount, the mysteries of the kingdom and the vital anti-PreTrib gotcha passage in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13, and Luke 21) that was delivered by Jesus to Peter, James, John, and Andrew in a private briefing after the four requested that He give them signs of Israel’s Tribulation pointing to His return to inaugurate the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (Mark 13:3-4).
Mystery – Church – Heaven
The Mystery Program is God’s plan for heaven featuring the Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ given to Paul in “the revelation  of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25).
Although hidden from the prophets, this mystery program was unveiled 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). Peter and the apostles did not know this new doctrine until Paul taught them (Gal. 1:12; 2:6-7; see 2 Pet. 3:15-16). Paul’s mystery 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 on earth 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 resume at Daniel’s 70th week where it was halted.
Fact: Eighty percent of the Bible is OT narrative for Israel and while it is profitable, it is not personal. Our “mail” comes from Paul’s epistles – Romans through Philemon – where he explains all the doctrines and duties of the church in the revelation of the mystery given directly to him by the Lord Jesus (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1-9).
Here’s Paul’s explanation of the mystery exclusivity:
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:10-12).
In chapter two, he continued defining the distinctiveness of his doctrine by contrasting the gospel he preached with the one Peter preached:
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” (Galatians 2:6-9)
Fact: The dispensation of the mystery of the church  isn’t Jewish and it wasn’t known by any of the prophets or the twelve apostles until Paul taught them (Gal. 1:11-12; 2:6-9; 2 Pet. 3:15-16; see also 1 Thess. 2:13). It was secretly revealed by the Lord Jesus to Paul – the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:3) – literally as a mystery (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:4-5, 9) – after the Lord temporarily set aside Daniel’s prophecy at the end of the 69th week (Dan. 9:24-27). Sadly, this very special revelation of the mystery given by Jesus to Paul has been the object of defiance and disdain accompanied by bitterness, badgering, and blackballing on the part of inflexible men who fight tooth and nail against it even though it is specifically for this dispensation.
Recognizing the damage this causes, Peter lamented,
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Fact: The blood bought, born again church (ekklesia- called out assembly) is the Body of Christ (Col. 1:18, 24). She has NO inheritance on earth and no compelling purpose here during the Tribulation (study Eph. 1-3; Col. 3:1-6). She is the Lord’s heavenly BODY (Eph. 1:3; 2:6); a mystery “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25), given to Paul alone by our risen Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:20) during His current heavenly ministry in a personal post ascension revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:1-9). Once “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) and the mystery Body of Christ (Rom. 16:25) is removed at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51), Israel’s prophecy clock will resume at Daniel’s seventieth week (one week of seven years – see Dan. 9:27; Rev. 11:2-3), the time of Jacob’s trouble that Jesus referred to as (great) Tribulation(Matt. 24:21, 29).
Fact: When studied in its entirety we discover the Mystery is that body of truth revealed to and proclaimed by the Apostle Paul alone (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:9-10; 3:1-11) concerning Heaven and the exaltation of the Body of Christ together in Heaven with Christ (Eph. 2:4-10, 3: 1-4; also read carefully Col. 3:1-6). The student who understands the distinction between prophecy for Israel and earth, along with the mystery of the Body and heaven, is thoroughly equipped to avoid conflating Israel’s expectation of a coming Revelation of a King and kingdom – with His parenthetical plan for the Body. The blood bought, born again church (ekklesia- called out assembly) is the Body of Christ (Col. 1:18, 24). She has NO inheritance on earth and no compelling purpose here during the Tribulation (study Eph. 1-3; Col. 3:1-6). She is the Lord’s heavenly BODY (Eph. 1:3; 2:6); a mystery “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25), given to Paul alone by our risen Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:20) during His current heavenly ministry in a personal post ascension revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:1-9). Once the mystery Body of Christ (Rom. 16:25) is removed at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51), Israel’s prophecy clock will resume at Daniel’s seventieth week (one week of seven years – see Dan. 9:27; Rev. 11:2-3), the time of Jacob’s trouble that Jesus referred to as (great) Tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 29).
Facts on the church you need to know:
- Presented as a Body where Christ is Head [no laws, land, or covenants] 
- The Body exists as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) that will one day disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).
- The Body of Christ was unknown by the prophets and has no association with prophecy or future Tribulation. [Our salvation is secure; sealed forever in Christ (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30) with no further purification required].
- Our inheritance is not in the earth, but in heaven with Jesus where we spiritually exist in Him (Eph. 1:3-4, 10; 2:6; col. 3:1-3)  at this moment, awaiting the promise Jesus made to return and take us to heaven (John 14:2-3; see 1 Thess. 4:13-18). This will happen at some undisclosed time in the future when the “fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).
- Paul is our apostle (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:7-8). His epistles (Romans-Philemon) provide all doctrine and duty for those in this “dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2) personally given to him by Jesus in the “revelation of the mystery” (Rom. 16:25).
- Occupies a temporary position on earth during Israel’s hiatus between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week (Dan. 9:24-27)
- Was established by God to provoke Israel to jealousy leading to her conversion (Rom. 11:11).
- Was unknown to any of the prophets (Col. 1:26)
- Was never included in earthly prophecies featuring Israel’s Davidic Kingdom, and Tribulation (“Jacob’s trouble” – Jer. 30:7) preceding it.
- Appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25)  during Israel’sblindness (Rom. 11:7),
- Will disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) when “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).
- Cannot be seen anywhere in Israel’s Tribulation! 
Time to reflect on something: the necessity of God’s revelation for the future, must include the prophetic word: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Since the Tribulation is prophecy for Israel, it cannot begin while the mystery Body of Christ is here. The church Body of Christ is NEVER MENTIONED anywhere in prophecy and thus the church which appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) after Daniel’s prophecy clock stopped after the 69th week must be removed in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51; see 2 Thess. 2:7) in order to restart that prophecy clock at the 70th week. That event is imminent; it’s the rapture of the church in the heavenlies by Christ and it removes us before Antichrist  is revealed and the time of Jacob’s trouble begins with the signing of a seven year covenant of peace (2 Thess 2:6-8; see Dan. 9:27). The Revelation of Christ occurs on earth immediately after the Tribulation (Matt 24:29) and just before the kingdom begins (Matt 25:31-46). The fact that the Body of Christ returns with Him at the Revelation demands that we be removed prior to that event. Although PreWrath  advocates argue for a removal of the church about ¾ of the way through Israel’s Tribulation their charts are as perplexing as they are preposterous.
Chart: Prophecy and Mystery
|Prophecy – Israel – Earth||Mystery – Church – Heaven|
|Concerns a kingdom; a political
Organization (Dan. 2:44; Matt.6:10).
|Concerns a body; a living organism (I Cor.12:12,27;Eph.4:12-16).|
|The kingdom to be established on earth
|The body given a position in heaven (Eph.
|Christ to be its King (Jer.23:5;Isa. 9:6,7).||Christ its living Head (Eph.1:19-23; Col.
|The kingdom prophesied “since the world
|The body chosen in Christ before the world began, but “kept secret since the world began”(Rom.16:25;Eph.1:4-11;3:5-9).|
|Israel to be given supremacy over the
Nations (Isa. 60:10-12; 61:6).
|Jew and Gentile placed on the same level
|The Gentiles to be blessed through
Israel’s instrumentality (Gen.22:17,18;Zech.
|The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s
|The Gentiles to be blessed through Israel’s
Rise (Isa. 60:1-3; Zech.8:22, 23).
|The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s fall
|Prophecy mainly concerns nations as such
(Isa. 2:4; Ezek.37:21,22).
|The mystery concerns individuals (Rom.
|1. Prophecy concerns blessings, both material
2. and spiritual, on earth (Isa. 2:3,4;11:1-9;etc.).
|The mystery concerns “all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies” (Eph.1:3;Col. 3:1-3).|
|Prophecy concerns Christ’s coming to the
Earth (Isa. 59:20;Zech. 14:4).
|The mystery explains Christ’s present absence from the earth (Eph.1:20-23; Col.3:1-3).|
|In prophecy salvation by grace through
Faith alone is not contemplated.
|Salvation by grace through faith alone lies at the very heart of the mystery (Rom.3:21-26; 4:5; Eph.2:8,9).|
|The proclamation of the prophetic program
Committed particularly to the twelve (Matt.10:5-7; Acts1:6-8;3:19-26).
|The proclamation of the mystery committed particularly to Paul (Eph.3:1-3,8,9;Col.1:24-27).|
|The prophetic program revealed through Many of God’s servants (Luke1:70;IIPet. 1:21).||The mystery revealed through one man: Paul(Gal.1:1,11,12;2:2,7,9; Eph.3:2,3).
|Old testament writers frequently did not under- stand the prophecies made known
through them (Dan. 12:8-10; I Pet. 1:10-12).
|Paul both understood and longed that others might understand the mystery revealed through him (Eph.1:15-23; 3:14-21; Col.1:9-10;2:1-3).
This chart adapted from Cornelius Stam
 Prophecy is the distinguishing factor separating the Bible from all “religious” books in the world. Prophecy is what drew my dad to Christ in 1975 and kept him excited about the Lord’s return until April 10, 2009 when the Lord took him home. In short, prophecy for Israel is the main subject connecting our tribulation trilogy together.
 Romans 9-11 Explains Israel’s past, present and future. Regardless of the tradition that told you otherwise, none of the Covenants God made with Israel were ever retracted nor given to the Body of Christ in the revelation of the mystery Paul received (Rom. 16:25). The Body of Christ is merely the provisional beneficiary of His work through Israel during this her blindness, only however, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). Indemnifying this are prophesies God gave Israel for her future which still includes the seventieth week (7 years) of Daniel’s prophecy that must be fulfilled by her (see Dan. 9:24- “thy people”). Paul’s explanation in Romans 9 through 11 makes clear God’s intention for Israel in the future. Romans 9 tells us the Covenants of Israel are not set aside by Gospel, and the blinding of Israel led to God’s mercy to the Gentiles. Romans 10 proves Israel’s attempt at law keeping wasn’t accepted because self-righteousness is not a ground of salvation and provides a way for Gentiles to be saved. Only our humble faith in Christ’s satisfaction of the law, and so be “justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Finally, Romans 11 warns against boasting the church replaced Israel. It reveals although temporarily blind, God’s program for Israel is still on. In due time she will emerge when “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) and the church is gone.
 This kingdom has been in the works from the beginning as revealed at the sheep and goat judgment: “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).
 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)
 Daniel is part of the prophetic landscape of earth and thus features Israel. In order to fit the pieces together leading to the Kingdom, we need to understand Daniel’s seventy weeks. Remember, the vision was delivered by the angel Gabriel (Dan. 9:21), to the prophet Daniel, for “thy people” (Jews) concerning “thy holy city” (Jerusalem; see Dan. 9:24). Although it is a comprehensive narrative, the prophecy is incomplete; it’s missing a single week of seven years that must be fulfilled through Israel according to the Davidic Covenant and the prophetic Word (Dan. 9:24-27). 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; allowing 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 (Isa. 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). The Body of Christ is NOT in view during the time of Jacob’s trouble!
 The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the public return of the Lord to Israel with the mystery church (1 Thess. 2:19; Rev. 19:14; Jude 1:14) already there with Him (John 14:2-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 4:1; 19:11-21).
 Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:1-4; compare Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-21.
 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. (Hebrews 9:16-17)
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).
 Paul explains this very clearly in Ephesians 3:1-9.
 Cornelius Stam has written extensively on this. PMI also offers more on Prophecy and the Mystery.
 God made 5 unilateral covenants with Israel, none with the Body of Christ. We are merely the beneficiaries through Jesus.
 In Christ: 1:1,3,10,12,20; 2:6,10,13; 3:6,11; In the Lord: Ephesians 1:15; 2:21; 4:17; 5:8; 6:1,10,21;
 More information on the mystery nature of the Body of Christ discussed in Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:24-27.
 TO REITERATE IN TERMS AS CLEAR AS POSSIBLE: If the Body of Christ (church) is present on earth during Israel’s tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Zeph. 1-2), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. To wit, while we can easily find Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth during the tribulation – aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15), the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from this divine punishment (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). Since we are not mentioned anywhere, it is clear to objective minded students the Lord has mysteriously removed us, “in a moment in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:51). Hallelujah to the Lamb, Jesus Christ our Lord!
Antichrist, aka the beast. This “Beast” is the “little horn” of (Dan_7:24-26), and “desolator” of (Dan_9:27), the “abomination of desolation” of (Mat_24:15), the “man of sin” of (2Th_2:4-8), earth’s last and most awful tyrant, Satan’s fell instrument of wrath and hatred against God and the Jewish saints. He is, perhaps, identical with the rider on the white horse of (Rev_6:2), who begins by the peaceful conquest of three of the ten kingdoms into which the former Roman empire will then be divided, but who soon establishes the ecclesiastical and governmental tyranny described in Daniel 7, 9, 11; Revelation 13. To him, Satan gives the power which he offered to Christ. (Mat_4:8); (Mat_4:9); (Rev_13:4). (Old Scofield Study Bible)
We have information explaining the facts while exposing the fallacies of this confusing ruse.
by Pastor Joey Faust
THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE IN HISTORY – NOT OF DEMONIC ORIGIN
Many people sometimes wonder who has taught the pre-trib rapture before J.N. Darby (1800-1881). This question is often stated as an objection. These objections are often very bitter and harsh. Modern pre-tribbers have responded by citing Morgan Edwards (1722-1795), a Baptist pastor who presented a pre-trib rapture in the 18th century. Edwards writes:
“…the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ’s ‘appearing in the air’ (I Thes. iv. 17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many ‘mansions in the father’s house’ (John xiv. 2), and so disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for ‘now the time is come that judgment must begin,’ and that will be ‘at the house of God’ (I Pet. iv. 17)…”
(Quoted in “Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist,” by Thomas Ice)
Two objections are generally made to this quote. First, it is claimed that Morgan Edwards (as a historicist) was only presenting a hypothetical case for a “term paper.” Second, many argue that this obscure writing had no effect or influence on Christians in the mainstream, and that it cannot be seen as setting the stage for Darby’s later rapture view. They assert that Darby got his view from someone claiming to give an inspired “revelation” in the early 19th century. After Morgan Edwards, post-tribbers have simply put forth a greater demand. They now call upon pre-tribbers to not only present a pre-trib rapture before Darby, but to also present a “significant” case(s) that would have “influenced” Darby (and modern dispensational eschatology). They now demand that pre-tribbers establish a clear historical progression. Otherwise, they still maintain that Darby was influenced by an Irvingite “utterance.”
Wisdom often calls us to stand upon the shoulders of our forefathers. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for post-tribbers to request from us an historical chain of thought in regard to the rapture. It is, however, unreasonable for them to conclude that, simply because certain details may be cloudy, that this must mean the pre-trib view arose from a demonic or Irvingite “revelation.” The same claim was made in regard to futurism (“It is from the Jesuits”), and earlier, premillennialism itself (“It is from the Jews”), etc.
Margaret McDonald and the Irvingites
Tregelles (in 1864) made the claim that the pre-trib teaching arose from an utterance in Irving’s church:
“But when the theory of a secret coming of Christ was first brought forward (about the year 1832), it was adopted with eagerness…I am not aware that there was any definite teaching that there would be a secret rapture of the church at a secret coming, until this was given forth as an ‘utterance’ in Mr. Irving’s church, from what was there received as being the voice of the Spirit. But whether any one ever asserted such a thing or not, it was from that supposed revelation that the modern doctrine and the modern phraseology respecting it arose.” (Tregelles, “The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming,” 1864)
Tregelles does not document this “utterance.” G.H. Lang therefore writes:
“No evidence is available that any of the Powerscourt circle took the idea of a secret rapture from the Irvingite utterances, no evidence beyond Tregelles’s assertion, and for this he gives no proofs.” (“The Disciple,” 1954)
In “The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin,” (1973), Dave MacPherson does his best to make his own far-fetched idea “believable.” He attempts to link the origin of the pre-trib rapture view with a young lady named Margaret McDonald. However, he fails considerably in offering any evidence that this young lady influenced anyone on ANY Biblical subject (other than perhaps, whether or not Apostolic gifts were reviving). To start with, she was in Scotland (not England, where Irving’s church was located). As to M. McDonald’s particular “revelation,” she appears to teach that the “Spirit-filled” will be “kept” from deception in the MIDST of the Trib (i.e. the post-trib view)! She has the faithful (including herself) on earth when the Antichrist is revealed:
“I saw the people of God in an awfully dangerous situation. Now will the wicked one be revealed with all power…It will be a fiery trial…Nothing but what is of God will stand…I said, Now shall the awful sight of a false Christ be seen on this earth; and nothing but Christ in US can DETECT this awful attempt of the enemy to deceive…This is the trial THROUGH which those are to pass, who will be counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man…The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept. I frequently said, Oh be filled with the Spirit – have the light of God within you, that you may DETECT satan…” (emphasis mine)
It is obvious that by being “kept,” McDonald means Christians are kept from DECEPTION while the Antichrist is manifested!
McPherson erred by stumbling onto a book written by Robert Norton in 1861 which claimed that Margaret McDonald originated the pre-trib rapture view. The book was titled, “The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets in the Catholic Apostolic Church” (i.e. Irving’s movement). In 1852, Norton wrote “Reasons for Believing the Lord has Restored to the Church Apostles and Prophets.” By 1861, the pre-trib rapture view was a well-established doctrine among premillennialists. Isn’t it reasonable to conclude that Norton (a member of the Catholic Apostolic Church) would greatly desire to argue that something “significant” originated from someone exercising a restored “Apostolic” gift? Notice his words in describing Margaret McDonald’s supposed “revelation” of the pre-trib rapture (i.e. two-stage coming):
“Marvelous light was shed upon Scripture, and especially upon the doctrine of the Second Advent BY THE REVIVED SPIRIT OF PROPHECY. In the following account by Miss M.M…we see first the distinction between the final stage of the Lord’s coming…and His prior appearing…” (emphasis mine; MacPherson, p.47)
Sadly, Norton (1807-1883) was simply a victim of his own wishful thinking. He read into M.M.’s “revelation” in order to argue that “marvelous light” (i.e. the pre-trib rapture teaching which was WIDESPREAD among prophecy students at the time) had come forth from his own restoration movement. Why would he need this type of prop? Because the majority of Christians at the time thought his movement was inspired by the Devil and that Norton himself was “fanatical”! How advantageous it would be to argue that the prized teaching in regard to the two stages of the Lord’s Coming was first manifested by someone with a supernatural gift. Yet, he failed in offering anything other than his own assertions to validate his claims. MacPherson repeated the mistake (for different reasons).
But let us pretend that M. McDonald is indeed teaching some type of pre-trib rapture. What would this prove? It would simply show that McDonald was INFLUENCED (in the realm of eschatology) by the scholarly, prophetic teachings around her at the time and was simply coughing them back up as a self-deceived or pretended “inspired” utterance. If not, and something more diabolical was at work, Matthew 8:29 and Acts 16:17 reveal that devils often attempt to oppose truth (especially new or revived truth) by AGREEING with it, thereby attempting to bring confusion in regard to its source.
But we should read the quote by Tregelles a bit closer. Why did he use the phrase “secret rapture” instead of “pre-trib rapture”? It is perhaps because he knew that the pre-trib rapture was certainly taught before anyone in Irving’s church ever uttered a word! Whether or not it is “secret” is of no consequence and depends upon what one means by “secret.” The debate is over whether or not there is a PRE-trib escape. The Bible itself is the foundation for the pre-trib teaching (see Lk.21:36, Rev.3:10, Heb.11:5, etc., as well as other Scriptures that have historically been used to teach the view such as Mt.25:10, Rev.12:5, 14:3, etc.). This teaching is found wherever there is a revival of premillennial thought (literal interpretation). In the 17th century, premillennialism was revived in the mainstream. Therefore, we should be able to find the foundational elements of the pre-trib rapture scheme OPENLY presented in the 17th century.
Joseph Mede and the Rapture
Joseph Mede (1586-1638) was the most popular premillennialist of his age. Edward Bickersteth (1786-1850) called him the “father of modern interpretation.” Therefore, his writings were certainly still influential in the 19th century. David Brown called Mede the “prince of Millennarians.” Wilbur Smith stated:
“Probably no work on the Apocalypse by an English author from the time of the Reformation down to the beginning of the 19th century, and even later, has exercised as much influence…”
Mede’s work on the Book of Revelation became the most popular book (outside the Bible itself) of that day. The main prophetic view of Mede’s age (among premillennialists) was the historicist view of the Tribulation period (i.e. the judgments of the Book of Revelation are fulfilled figuratively throughout the whole of Christian history). The literal, futurist view (that which I embrace) did not become widespread until the 19th century when many historicists adopted a “double” view of the 1260 days (e.g. T. Evill, Purdon, E. Bickersteth, etc.) interpreting them literally (i.e. as future days), and at the same time, prophetically (i.e. as years). Burgh, Govett, Darby, and many others would lead the way in abandoning the historicist view altogether. Within his historicist view, Mede suggested the possibility of a RAPTURE before the final “conflagration” (i.e. burning of the earth) in the final days immediately before the 1000-year Kingdom. This would correspond somewhat to the final age of the futurist (i.e. modern dispensational) system. Mede suggested that this particular burning would only be a purification and not a total annihilation of the earth – which he placed after the Millennium (“Works,” Book III, p.617). In regard to the rapture, Mede writes:
“I will add this more, namely, what may be conceived to be the cause of this RAPTURE of the saints on high to meet the Lord in the clouds, rather than to wait his coming to earth….What if it be, that they may be PRESERVED during the Conflagration of the earth and the works thereof, 2 Pet.3:10, that as Noah and his family were preserved from the Deluge by being lift up above the waters in the Ark; so should the saints at the Conflagration be lift up in the clouds unto their Ark, Christ, to be preserved there from the deluge of fire, wherein the wicked shall be consumed?” (“The Works of Joseph Mede,” 1672, London edition, Book IV, p.776)
Notice the word “rapture,” the use of 1 Thess.4, the analogy of Noah, and the “preservation” in contrast to the wicked, etc. All of these items are the very nuts and bolts of the modern pre-trib system. There was a train of thought (from Mede to Darby) that surely influenced Darby in regard to the rapture. This suggestion of Mede’s had considerable influence on other students of the prophecies. He is later actually quoted by William Cuninghame (which we will discuss shortly) as one of the earliest advocates of the pre-trib rapture view! Therefore, whether or not one agrees that Mede’s quote is foundational in regard to the pre-trib rapture is beside the point. Cuninghame took it as being an early and undeveloped example of his own viewpoint and built upon it. From the point of view of the historian, Mede takes his place in history as being one of the first scholars to revive the pre-trib rapture concept.
Frere, Cuninghame and the Rapture
The next influential prophecy writers to continue laying the foundation for the two-stage coming of Christ (i.e. pre-trib rapture) were James H. Frere (1779-1866) and William Cuninghame (1775-1849):
“Faber, Cuninghame, and Frere were unquestionably the three most prominent expositors in Britain in the early part of the nineteenth century.” (Fromm, Vol.III, p.279)
Both Frere and Cuninghame later participated in the Albury Park conferences (1826-28). Some historians have noted that Irving was a DISCIPLE of Frere in regard to the prophecies. When Mede’s idea of a “rapture” of believers (to escape the end-time destruction on the wicked) was added to a two-stage second coming of Christ, historicism began to look a lot like futurism at its final “head.” The foundation for this two-stage coming was indeed laid by Frere and Cuninghame over a decade BEFORE the Albury meetings took place. This teaching would be “refined” at the Albury meetings. It is therefore no wonder that after the Albury conferences had ended (1828), articles began appearing in Irving’s “Morning Watch” (June-Sept., 1832) advocating a view that held to both the year-day and literal-day interpretations at the same time. A new breed of “historicist-futurist” scholars would arise that combined Mede’s “rapture” with Frere’s and Cuninghame’s two-stage, end-time scenarios. From that point, this “new breed” (plus many pure historicists and pure futurists) would all begin to issue commentaries and articles advocating a two-stage coming and a pre-trib escape. The popularity of Frere and Cuninghame in the early part of the 19th century has already been demonstrated. And it is obvious that these men (and their peers) had an influence on Edward Irving before (and at) Albury Park. Yet, let us document how these men laid an early foundation for the two-stage coming of Christ: In 1815, Frere writes:
“…the sitting of the Ancient of Days is mentioned in the 9th verse of the seventh chapter of Daniel, and precedes the death and destruction of the ten-horned Beast…The sitting of the Ancient of Days and the judgment of the saints mentioned in Daniel, must therefore CONSIDERABLY PRECEDE the sitting of the saints in judgment at the commencement of the Millennium…and must be cotemporary with a period in the Revelation of Saint John, prior to that of the battle of Armageddon…(“A Combined View of the Prophecies,” London: 1815)
Frere looked for the Jews to be restored to the land, followed by a time of trouble to come “such as there never was…”, which would cover a period of 45 years. He saw two blessed periods for the saints; one before this trouble, and one after it (i.e. the Millennium). There is no mention of a translation; yet, the foundation for two stages is clearly being set. Many of the futurists would see a Tribulation period about that length (Seiss, Govett, Larkin, etc.) William Cuninghame actually put out his first edition of “A Dissertation on the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse” in 1813. The following quotes are from his 1817 edition:
“In the interpretation of this passage, I am compelled to differ from most expositors of the Apocalypse. Bishop Newton and Mr. Faber both apply the vision of the Lamb with the one-hundred and forty-four thousand, to the state of the true Church during the reign of the Beast…They therefore consider this mystical number of one-hundred and forty-four thousand, as continuing to represent the true Church from the times of Constantine to the dawn of the Millennium…the state of these followers of the Lamb, does not at all agree with the condition of the Church during the reign of the Beast…According to the system of most writers whose works I have had access to, it does not appear what becomes of the Church after she returns from her secret retreat in the wilderness, till she is exhibited to us in the nineteenth chapter, as having made herself ready for the bridal ceremony……it may be proper, before I close the subject, to take a short view of those great events, which the prophecies both of the Old and New Testament lead us to expect…The first of these is the conversion and restoration of the Jews…their restoration is to happen during a time of trouble, such as there never was since there was a nation…The number of the elect 144,000, who are sealed, for preservation from the last awful calamities, will have been completed, by means of that final preaching of the Gospel…the elect of God shall be gathered from the four winds of heaven to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the final judgments shall be let loose against those nations which have named the name of Christ, but have not departed from iniquity… A question will here naturally suggest itself to the mind of the reader. What is to become of the righteous in the awful period described in the foregoing prophecies? Now, the answer to this inquiry has been given, in considering the seventh chapter of the Apocalypse…This tribulation is manifestly that of the closing period of the earthquake and vials; and we are thus assured, that the righteous are to be preserved during the final display of divine wrath…a call is given to the righteous to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb…These considerations ought surely to awaken the Christian to pray more earnestly for his country, and to quicken his diligence, that he may individually be accounted worthy to ESCAPE the approaching wrath, and to stand before the Son of Man…Our Lord Himself has emphatically assured us, ‘behold I come as a thief…’ from these words we may certainly conclude, that He will come at a time, when few even of his own people expect it…No human power or wisdom can avert the terrific events which are approaching. But if, through faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we wash our robes, and make them white in the Blood of the Lamb, then we shall individually be numbered with that great multitude, who shall come out of the great tribulation…”
(“A Dissertation on the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse,” 1817, pp.273-275, 290, 334, 340, 347, 354)
Before reading the next excerpt from Cuninghame, it might be helpful to read over these words in 1813 one more time! All of the elements of the two-stage coming and pre-trib rapture are beginning to come to fruition in 1813-1817 (years before the Irvingite manifestations or McDonald).
In the following years, Cuninghame built upon his own views and developed a clear two-stage coming of the Lord. Cuninghame would quote Joseph Mede and some early Jewish writings as earlier sources of the Bible’s pre-trib rapture teaching. He would also become more clear about what happens to the ready saints during the time of trouble. They would be “translated”!:
“There is a double gathering of his saints unto our Lord, during his abode in the air; first of the 144,000 sealed ones, and secondly, the white-robed palm-bearers (Rev.vii.9-17). The former is at the first moment of the Advent, and the last at a later period…There are two events selected by our Lord himself, as the special types of His Advent, and the state of the world in that day…it is manifest that the Coming of the Lord is to find the world in a state of peace…the ten virgins…are all…found slumbering and sleeping…as soon as the Lord comes and takes to himself the Wise Virgins, the torrent of calamity which is to destroy the prophetic earth shall immediately thereafter break forth…But I remark that there is another class of passages, which no less certainly indicates that his coming shall be in a season of shaking and alarm and fear…” (1836 -perhaps a later edition)
From The Kingdom Alert, #117 (6-9-01)
* * * * * * *
Pastor Joey Faust
Kingdom Baptist Church
700 Cordes Dr., Venus, Texas, 76084