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The Rapture and Right Division

Dr. Mike Johnston

Rightly dividing the word of truth makes it clear that Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ. Right division encompasses two programs (prophecy and mystery) that have existed “since the world began” – designed by God to cover three periods: time past, but now, and ages to come. [1] Conflating the prophecy and mystery programs generally leads to disorder, disputations (as seen in the emergence of denominations), and ultimately deception. [2]

Prophecy (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21) [3] came through the prophets featuring events primarily surrounding Israel’s coming King and His kingdom on earth; while the mystery (Rom. 16:25) [4] was unknown to the prophets and given initially to Paul concerning the church Body of Christ promised an inheritance in heaven where we are now spiritually seated there with Christ. [5] Before Israel’s Tribulation leading to her kingdom can begin, the church Body that appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) must first disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).

Key to understanding eschatology is Israel, God’s preeminent earthly nation. God spoke her into existence through specially appointed and anointed messengers called prophets. These men collectively prophesied five unilateral covenants promising Israel perpetuity of lineage (Abrahamic Covenant), land (Land Covenant), Law (Mosaic Covenant), Lordship (Davidic covenant), and longevity (New Covenant). These messages were clarified over time through a means known as progressive revelation featuring the promise of a Messianic King who will inaugurate a universal kingdom that will flourish for a thousand years [6] 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). Its location is Jerusalem, city of David (2 Kings 14:20), the blessed Zion of God (Isa. 30:19).

About 2000 years ago, this Covenanted kingdom was offered by John the Baptist, Christ, and the twelve disciples who all preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and its requisite repentance (Matt. 3:2; 4:17, 23; 10:7; John 1:45; see Gal. 2:7-9). However, Israel’s rejection of the Kingdom summoned God’s judgment decreed in eternity past expressly to prepare and purify her, earth,[7] and collaterally the Gentile nations supporting Israel prior to the Kingdom in the latter days (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 23; 30-31; Dan. 10:14; etc). Scholars – using vernacular from Moses (Deut. 4:30), Christ (Matt. 24:21, 29), and John the Revelator (Rev. 7:14) – refer to this period of judgment on Israel and the inhabitants of earth as (the) Tribulation.

Beginning with Moses [8] the prophets progressively outlined and revealed Israel’s Tribulation (study Isaiah 24-26; Jer. 30-31; Ezekiel 34-48; Dan. 12; Revelation 6-20). They described it with names defining it, like the time of (Jacob’s) trouble (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15); day of His wrath (Psa. 110:5; Isa. 13:9; Ezek. 7:19; Zeph. 1:15; Rev. 6:17; 11:18; 14:10);  and a number of other euphemisms all connected to the day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; Joel 2:1; see Isa. 13:9, 13; Ezek. 7:19).

We see a foreshadowing of purpose for Israel’s Tribulation judgment in the Book of Judges, which tells the story of a loving God retrieving His rebellious nation. “And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not” (Judges 2:20-22-bold added). The Tribulation will result in her final repentance with full restoration when Christ the Jewish Messiah returns full view at the Revelation followed by the Kingdom.

Context vs. pretext

Biblical truth in context is conclusive. You can accept it or reject it, but the fact is, it doesn’t lie and it won’t change. To be fair with it, I listed most every major passage of Scripture dealing with the time of Jacob’s trouble – aka Jacob’s (Israel’s) Tribulation “trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15). You can verify what I’m telling you by studying each of the passages in full context as they appeared throughout this treatise. If you are willing to conduct the comprehensive research as I personally have, you will discover a grave dilemma experienced by all of our opponents. The church Body can’t be located on earth during Israel’s Tribulation.

Consider this with your King James Bible open to Tribulation passages. Israel and the Gentile nations associated with her are indisputably identified on earth during this time. Since they are, wouldn’t it stand to reason the church Body would be just as easy to spot? Let’s take a closer look.

Open an Exhaustive Concordance for the King James Bible (ie Strong’s) and search carefully the 117 times in the KJV that the singular or plural of the word church appears. Do the same with all variations of Paul’s designation, Body of Christ.

Here’s what we find.

If the church Body is on earth during Israel’s Tribulation, it is impossible to clearly identify. Wouldn’t the Lord want us to be able to recognize our dilemma so we could prepare? It would have been a simple thing for the Holy Spirit to inspire the use of the word church or Body of Christ in any of the scores of Tribulation passages IF we were actually here, wouldn’t it?

So why didn’t He? The inconvenient fact is, there isn’t a single mention in a single verse within context of Israel’s Tribulation that specifically mentions us being here. NOT ONE!

Was this an oversight? A mistake? Translator’s error? A deliberate deception? No! We aren’t here!

Notwithstanding, here’s the desperate solution from our narrative hawking adversaries.

Interpretation or lying

Interpretation is one thing, but lying is quite another. Since our adversaries have no indisputable Scriptural evidence, the only way they can put us on earth in Israel’s Tribulation is by employing unorthodox interpretation methods I call “Houdini hermeneutics”.

Any good illusion includes a good distraction. Rapture antagonists do this by impugning the longevity of the PreTrib doctrine, causing us to invest our time and resources in a non-essential issue. Dave MacPherson – more on his artifices later – is one of the most skilled at this. Then, with our attention diverted, they are free to complete the trick. One ploy is to remove from context and redefine three words fundamental to their fraud, “saints”, “elect”, and “disciples”.

Now again, I urge you to open your King James Bible and your concordance to study the setting and the definitions of all three words. In context from Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation, they all refer to Israel not to the Body of Christ as hotly pushed in anti-PreTrib claptrap.

So what’s wrong with giving one’s personal interpretation? Nothing if that’s what it is. My experience tells me this is something more.

Let’s suppose you witnessed a crime that a man you hated was charged with. Although you didn’t actually see his face, you could interpret that the defendant was the perpetrator because your friends said so, and the prosecutor wanted you to agree with them in a testimony against him.

So, in the final analysis, would you go along to get along by compromising your integrity to help convict a man you admittedly hated but had no indisputable evidence to condemn?

In all honesty, if you did, this wouldn’t merely be you offering your interpretation. This would be you bearing false witness.

It is definitely something to think about, is it not?

[1] Time past (Eph. 2:11-12; but now (Eph. 2:4); ages to come (Eph. 2:7).

[2] This is what the cults do, ie SDAs, JWs, Mormons, Romanists, etc.

[3] As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: (Luke 1:70).

[4] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

(Romans 16:25)

[5] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:20). And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)

[6] John the Revelator revealed the Kingdom will last on Earth 1000 years (Rev. 20:2-7)

[7] 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 13:13). But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:10)

[8] When thou [Israel] art in tribulation and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days  (Deuteronomy 4:30- bracket comment added).

The Rapture and Revelation an overview of 1 and 2 Thessalonians

The Rapture and Revelation
an overview of 1 and 2 Thessalonians

Dr. Ted Horton
(Graduate of PMI Center and Calvary Christian schools)

We can find the Apostle Paul discussing the pre-tribulation rapture or the Second Coming of Christ (and by context alluding to the pre-tribulation rapture) in every verse of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. Paul was encouraging the church in the first epistle with the Blessed Hope. In the second letter we find that the church in Thessalonica had been led to believe that they had missed the Day of Christ, NOT the Day of the Lord as many new versions translate 2 Thessalonians 2:2. Even going back to the Greek we see that the word is “Christos,” so it is properly translated Christ. But I am getting ahead of myself. The Bible of course would be the King James Bible.

1 Thessalonians

CHAPTER 1-1Th 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. – Here we see a picture of the PTR as we are waiting on Christ to return for us. We have been delivered by our salvation from eternal wrath and the church that will be present when it is time for Daniel’s 70th Week to commence will be delivered from that wrath.

CHAPTER 2- 1Th 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? – When the Lord returns bodily to the earth, the church will be coming WITH Him. We will be with Him because He took us up in the PTR.

CHAPTER 3- 1Th 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.—Again, when the Lord returns He will come WITH ALL His saints. This is because He will have already gathered them.

CHAPTER 4- 1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. – This shouldn’t require much commentary. The Lord is personally returning for His saints. This MUST be PTR as during the Second Coming the saints are all with Him.

CHAPTER 5- All of chapter 5 should be read, but here are some highlights:
1Th 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.—Notice here Paul says Day of the Lord. This is much different from the Day of Christ that will be used in 2 Thessalonians. The Day of the Lord is dealing with The Time of Jacob’s Trouble and the Millennial Kingdom and is much longer than a 24 hour day. The Day of Christ is the Rapture and happens in an instant. Terms that relate to the Day of the Lord that you will see often are night, thief, darkness, overtaken, wrath, etc. The church has words associated with it such as light and day; the church is never used in conjunction with wrath, night, or thief.

1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. – Study the pronouns of Chapter 5. You will see they, they, they and then all of a sudden, ye. Paul is distinguishing between the two groups; between the world and the church.

1Th 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.—Here it is again: they, sleep, night. Then we see the word but. But is a subordinate conjunction and when we see it we know that we are about to read something of a different tone or scope than what came before it. They (the world, the lost, unbelieving Israel) sleep in the night BUT us (believers, the church) are of the day!

1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.—God has not appointed US (who is us again? The church!) to wrath. We will live with Him. We are to take comfort in that. The comfort, by context is the Blessed Hope, the PTR!

1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.—These believers will have been long dead in body when Christ returns, and they will be with Him and we know that they will rise first from what we read earlier. So that again demands a PTR for them to get new bodies that they may be WITH Him at His coming.

2 Thessalonians

CHAPTER 1- 2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,– We will be at rest with the Lord when it is time for Him to return because the saints will have been taken up. We are with Him so that we can return with Him.

CHAPTER 2- 2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,– Chapter 2 gives a good timeline of the Tribulationon and you will notice that before it ever begins the Lord comes for us and we are gathered together unto Him.

CHAPTER 3- 2Th 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.—The Church has been waiting for His imminent return for 2,000 years. With proper exegesis of Daniel, Revelation, the Olivet Discourse, and the Pauline Epistles we can see that this 7 year period is for Israel and that the church will be removed sometime before it begins.

Not a single Bible verse indisputably placing Body of Christ on earth during Israel’s Tribulation

Dr. Mike Johnston

There isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and indisputably placing the church Body of Christ on earth for a single moment during Israel’s coming Tribulation without pulling from context and redefining the words “saints”, “elect”, and “disciples” which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation refer to Israel. The evidence for this leaps from the pages of the King James Bible rightly divided (2 Tim. 2:15).

Revelation for Israel, Rapture for the Church Body

Dr. Mike Johnston

 

Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.  (4)  He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the Earth, that he may judge his people.  (5)  Gather my saints together unto me [see Matt. 24:31 [1]] ; those that have made a covenant [Abrahamic] with me by sacrifice.

(6) And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah”

(Psalms 50:3-6).

A contrarian clique represented in the current rapture debate suffers from the same passing blindness Israel surrendered to 2000 years ago (Rom. 11:25). In that state, they refuse to accept right division between Israel and the church Body and the subsequent distinctions. For instance, why is it such an insurmountable task for our opponents to understand the Rapture as a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51-52) when in fact the entire church Body is a mystery (Rom. 16:25) having no connection to the Revelation outlined progressively by the prophets to Israel? Those who insist on placing the church Body in the middle of it sound eerily familiar to a group Paul addressed:

“But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile” (Romans 2:8-9).

Understanding right division God placed in Scripture is a prerequisite to arriving at right conclusions and clears up the Rapture confusion completely. Let’s be clear. We are not afraid of Biblical truth verified via Scripture; something every student has access to yet numbers are unwilling to avail themselves. I’ll explain the untoward upshot of this in the last chapter.

As we’ve seen, Israel’s Tribulation throughout the Bible is part of God’s prophecy program for Israel and Earth (Isa. 2; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zeph; Rev. 3:10; 6-19). It precedes the Messianic Kingdom prophesied throughout the OT. [2] This time of trouble (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15) is Israel’s Tribulation which originated in the prophecy program is Covenant related. It was initially revealed by Moses in a prophecy specifically for Israel in the latter days, (Deut. 4:30-31).

This is a simple three-point synopsis of Israel’s Tribulation:

  • It is punishment [3] of Israel’s enemies as well as Israel (Deut. 30:7; 32:43; Isa. 2:19-21; Isa. 13; 24; 34; 30-31; Dan. 7; 12:1; Joel 2; Zephaniah, see 1:15; Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19);
  • It is positioning Israel back under Abrahamic Covenant(Gen. 15-17; Deut. 4:30-31),
  • It is preparing Israel – and in a collateral sense, the Earth – (Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 20:37; 22:18-22; Zeph. 1:14-18) – for the Revelation of the Messiah and the Jewish (Millennial) Kingdom promised in perpetuity through the Davidic Covenant(2 Sam. 7:8-16).

Please take careful note. Every Bible reference to Israel’s Tribulation speaks of at least one of these three important things while NEVER mentioning the Body of Christ which was a mystery completely hidden from the prophets (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:2-9; Col. 1:26).

We can easily identify Israel’s Tribulation as a major change component prophesied to her for the latter days. In his monolithic treatise on Systematic Theology, Dr. Lewis Chafer described Israel’s Tribulation as “one of the major highways of prophecy, which may be traced through Scripture as follows: Deu_4:29-30; Jer_30:4-7; Dan_12:1; Mat_24:9-26; 2Th_2:1-12; Rev_3:10; 6:1-19:6. See also Psa_2:5; Isa_2:10-22; Isa_13:9-16; Isa_24:21-23; Isa_26:20-21; Isa_34:1-17; Isa_43:1-6; Isa_49:15-24; Jer_25:29-38; Eze_30:3; Amo_5:18-20; Oba_1:15-21; Zep_1:7-18; Zec_12:1-14; Zec_14:1-4; Mal_4:1-4.

(The Tribulation) is the period known as Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan_9:24-27), the order of events being the same in Daniel as in Matthew 24 and in 2 Thessalonians 2. The final week or heptad is seven years in duration, which is proved by the fact that it was exactly 69×7 years between the order to rebuild Jerusalem and the cutting off of Messiah. This remaining seventieth “week” of years belongs to Israel’s age and will be characterized by the same general conditions as obtained in the past Jewish age. The time is to be shortened a little (Mat_24:22). It is known as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer_30:4-7) out of which Israel will be saved. The great tribulation is the time of God’s unavoidable judgments on a Christ-rejecting world (Psa_2:5). It is characterized by:

  1. The removal of the Holy Spirit together with the Church from the Earth (2Th_2:7).
  2. The casting of Satan into, thus restricting him to, the Earth (Rev_12:9-12).
  3. The development of sin which was hitherto restrained (2Th_2:11).
  4. The rule of the man of sin (Joh_5:43).
  5. Termination by the second coming of Christ, the battle of Armageddon, and the smiting stone of Daniel 2.”

Revelation and Rapture Distinctions

A wrong division of the Bible will not tolerate making a distinction between the Lord’s return to Israel with the church Body, or His return for us preceding Israel’s Tribulation – an event prophesied for Israel in the latter days (Deut. 4:30-31). From the beginning when Moses first announced it, there has never been any mention of or allusion to the Body of Christ because we didn’t exist except as a mystery in the complexities of God’s heavenly program. Bear in mind, the God who created us as a provisional mystery during this prophecy interim, had already planned our mystery escape before the prophecy clock would resume for Israel. It is known as the Rapture and as we’ll see, it is as distinct from the Revelation as the Body of Christ is from the nation Israel.

Study Scripture. The Revelation was a well-attested future hope of Israel with a progressive prophetic basis for understanding. The Rapture, however, is a mystery [4] NOT known by the prophets and only revealed to the Body of Christ by Paul.

The Revelation of Christ involves His return to Israel and Earth. The Rapture by Christ involves Jesus taking the Body of Christ to heaven. Currently Israel awaits the final seven years of Daniel’s prophecy followed by the Kingdom (Dan. 7), the Body of Christ looks for Christ our Deliverer who promised to take us to Heaven (John 14:2-3; see 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 3:10;). The removal of the church Body via the Rapture will occur once “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25), allowing the prophecy clock to resume at Daniel’s 70th week where Israel’s Tribulation and the final preparations for the Kingdom can once again get underway following the Revelation of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. “But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:6).

Now let’s ask ourselves a question: Why is this even disputed?

In a sentence, conflation lends confusion, which leads to contention. Paul’s warning is direct, “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile” (Romans 2:8-9).

The Revelation is Prophecy for Israel

What we are witnessing today is a mixing together of the prophecy program for Israel with the mystery program for the church Body and posturing against the differences. I’m reluctant to admit (from sheer embarrassment) the vast numbers of Bible teachers who are not only acrimonious adversaries of the mystery (study carefully the destructive outcome of this- 2 Pet. 3:15-17) [5], they are stubbornly combative in their opposition to it, even though Scripture is very clear about the two distinct program outcomes of prophecy and mystery. Prophecy is for Israel progressively revealed by the mouth of God’s holy prophets since the world began (Acts. 3:21). The Revelation – known by Christians as the Second Coming – is part of Israel’s established prophecy program. Dr. Rice writes: “There is more said in the Bible about the second coming than there is about the first coming. The restoration of Israel, the putting down of evil, the establishment of a reign of righteousness, the end of war, the end of disease-all these wait on the return of Christ. The events of prophecy cluster around, precede, or follow the return of the Saviour.” (The Second Coming of Christ in Daniel, 1935). It concerns Israel’s future Kingdom in the “ages to come” and her King, the Messiah (Psa. 102:16; Isa. 66:15-18; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:3-4; etc).

Messiah’s coming to Earth of course originated with God’s servants the prophets and centers around the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom in Jerusalem. Progressive revelation teaches us it will occur at the completion of Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:29) also known as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27, “the day of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10, etc), a “time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1), and “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10). This Revelation of the Messiah to Israel was well known; the Rapture of the Body of Christ – a mystery hidden from the prophets – was NOT.

The Distinction and Description of Messiah’s Revelation to Israel:

The Revelation of the Messiah is a monumental event witnessed and experienced by the world (Rev. 1:7). Study carefully the Revelation verses below in their relation to Rapture verses because the prophets NEVER described the Revelation in the fashion Paul described the Rapture. In an article entitled The Glorious Appearing of Christ, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost wrote: “When the Son returns in glory (Rev. 1:13-16 He is fulfilling His God given role as Judge (John 5:27). He is portrayed in that role throughout the book of Revelation. Christ is the one (Rev. 5:5) who looses the series of judgments described in the breaking of the seals (Rev. 6:1-17) and the blowing of the trumpets (Rev. 8:2-9:21) . . .  Upon the Second Coming, He will assemble living Israel for judgment (Matt. 24:31; 25:1-30) and will judge living Gentiles to determine who will enter the covenanted kingdom.”

Here are some of the prophetic Revelation verses describing this event

1 Chronicles 16:33 “Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the Earth.”

Job 19:25-26 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the Earth:  (26)  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:”

Psalms 50:3-6 “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.  (4)  He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the Earth, that he may judge his people.  (5)  Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.  (6)  And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.”

Psalms 96:13 “Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the Earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.”

Psalms 102:16 “When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.”

Isaiah 26:21 “For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the Earth for their iniquity: the Earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”

Isaiah 66:15-18 “For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  (16)  For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.  (17)  They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.  (18)  For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.”

Daniel 7:13-14 “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.  (14)  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.”

Zechariah 14:4-5, 9 “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.  (5)  And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the Earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.  (9)  And the LORD shall be king over all the Earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”

Matthew 24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  (30)  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the Earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  (31)  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

1 Thessalonians 2:19 “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”

Jude 1:14-15 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,  (15)  To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Revelation 1:7  “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the Earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

Revelation 19:11-15 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  (12)  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  (13)  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  (14)  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  (15)  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”

The Rapture is a Mystery for the Body of Christ

The church Body is a mystery that was unknown to the prophets (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:1-9). Since they didn’t know about us, never mentioned us, and there isn’t a verse anywhere in Scripture indisputably identifying us here, how could we possibly be included in Israel’s Tribulation with God’s elect Israel (Isa. 45:4) and the unsaved nations of the world?

Answer: We aren’t! God shrouded the Body of Christ in mystery (Rom. 16:25). The Rapture is a mystery event experienced by the mystery church Body alone.

The distinct Rapture description – including its imminency – from Paul

I had to laugh some time ago when I was involved in a very heated “discussion” with a delusional anti-PreTrib man who charged me with being a “stinking liberal” for believing in the PreTrib rapture. Excuse me, while believing in the imminent rapture doesn’t itself make a person conservative, I’ve never found in 40 years one liberal that is PreTrib.

Let’s look at some verses discussing the Rapture of the church Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  (52)  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Galatians 1:4 “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver (pluck out, rescue- Strongs) us from (ek) [6] this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”

Philippians 3:20-21 “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  (21)  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Philippians 4:5 “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10 “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  (13) “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  (14)  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  (15)  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  (16)  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  (17)  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  (18)  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ”

1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,  (2)  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

2 Thessalonians 3:5 “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”

1 Timothy 6:14  That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 Timothy 2:18 “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

2 Timothy 4:1 “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing (Rapture) and his kingdom (Revelation)”

2 Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing”.

QUICK COMMENT: Second Timothy 4:8 is a very compelling proof that the church Body will be removed BEFORE Israel’s Tribulation because it promises a “crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:8) for all who “love His appearing”. Now think about this! Who in their right mind wouldn’t love and long for His appearing if they had to endure the persecution, plundering, pillaging and possible torture and martyrdom facing Earth dwellers during Israel’s Tribulation bloodbath? This fact alone would render this crown worthless! Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope, [7] and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” 

Chart: Rapture and the Revelation

RAPTURE

Unrevealed and not predicted in O.T. Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:51 – “mystery” compare Eph. 3:9 – “which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God”)
Christ comes in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-17)
Christ comes for His saints (1 Thess. 4:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:51-56) and returns to Heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:14).
Christ claims His bride (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27)

Only His own people see Him (1 Thess. 4:17-18; Phil. 3:20; Titus 2:13)

 

A wedding ceremony will occur following this coming (Rev. 19:7; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27)

 

Christ coming as the bright and morning star (Rev. 22:16)
Translation of living believers to Heaven (1 Cor. 15:51-52; John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)

A time of blessing and comfort (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11)
Earth not judged (John 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 2 Thess. 2:1 – no mention of judgment)

 

Imminent (any moment), signless – (Phil. 3:20; 4:5; Titus 2:13; 1 Cor. 16:22; Rev. 3:11; 22:12. 20)

 

Believers only are involved with this coming (John 14:1-3; 1 Cor.15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)
Occurs before God’s wrath  (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:4, 9; Rev. 3:10 – “keep thee from the hour”)
Marks the commencement of God’s day of wrath on Earth (1 Thess. 5:1-9).
Tribulation begins following this coming (1 Thess. 1:10; 2 Thess. 2:1-3; Rev. 3:10; Rev. 6-19)

No mention of Satan (1 Thess. 4:13-18)

 REVELATION

Revealed and predicted often in O.T. Scriptures (Isa. 9:7; 11:4; 26:19-21; 63:1-4; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:9-12; Zech. 14:1-9; Ma. 4:2-3)

Christ comes back to Earth (Zech. 14:4)
Christ comes with His saints (Zech. 14:5; 1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 14) and returns to Earth (Rev. 19:11-14).
Christ comes with His bride (Rev. 19:7-9; 11-14)

Every eye shall see Him – visible to entire world (Matt. 24:27; Rev. 1:7)

 

A wedding feast will occur following this coming (Rev. 19:9; Matt. 22:1-14; Lk. 14:12-24; Isa 25:6)

 

 

Christ comes as the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2)
Transfer of unbelievers to judgment (Matt. 24:37-41; 25:31-46; 13:41-42; 3:11-12)

A time of Earthly destruction and judgment (2 Thess. 2:8-12; Matt. 24:51; 25:46)
Earth judged (Rev. 16:14-20; 19:15; Isa. 11:4)

 

Follows definite predicted signs (signs occurring during Israel’s Tribulation Period – Matt. 24:29-34)
All humanity is affected by this coming (Matt. 24:1-25:46 – Israel and Gentile nations)

 

Occurs “after the Tribulation of those days” (Matt. 24:29-30) – 7 years later
Marks the culmination of God’s day of wrath on Earth (Joel 2:31; Rev. 19:15)

Millennium begins following this coming (Rev. 20:1-3; Matt. 13:41-43; Daniel 7:13-14; 12:2-3)

Satan is bound (Rev. 20:1-3)

 

Paul’s Mystery

When Paul introduced the mystery rapture, he did so as a well-educated duly connected ex-member of the powerful, prestigious Jewish Sanhedrin and graduate of the tutelage of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). This is where he received an extensive study of the prophets and OT Law including the hope of a future resurrection (Psalm 2:5-9; Isa. 2:1-4; 26:19-21; Dan. 12:2; see his commentary in 1 Cor. 15). This hope – aside from the liberal Sadducees (Matt. 22:23) and their followers – continued to dominate religious thinking on through the time of Christ (John 11:24).

With unassailable educational credentials, Paul unveiled the Rapture resurrection of the church as a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51-53; see 1 Thess. 4:13-18), to the mystery people (the Body of Christ)- (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12, 27; Eph. 3:3-9; 5:32). This he revealed as part of the dispensation of the mystery we are now in (Eph. 3:2-4; see also Romans 11:25; 16:25; First Corinthians 2:7; 15:51; Ephesians 1:9; 3:3,4,9; 5:32; 6:19; Colossians 1:26,27; 2:2; 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:9). All who know Christ when He returns will go with Him back to Heaven (John 14:2-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Question: Are you sure you know Christ as your Saviour and Lord? If not, ask Him into your life today.

The Galatian Judaizers

Paul made much of the distinction between his gospel (good news) message and that of his predecessors with claims he received it by special revelation (Gal. 1:11-12; see Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3). With that, he taught a distinct separation between the nation Israel and the Body of Christ and that our salvation in Christ excluded the pronouncements made in Israel’s Law and prophecy specifically to her, because our dispensation is distinctly[8] “not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). These prophecies include Israel’s Tribulation given her in time past to occur in the ages to come – aka the latter days (Deut. 4:30; see progressive revelation in Isaiah; Jeremiah; Dan. 9:24-27; Joel; Zeph 1; etc). The Body of Christ was NOT known to the prophets who never mentioned us. We have to be removed BEFORE this chaos begins.

A reference to this appears in Paul’s letter to the Galatian church – troubled by Judaizers trying to force God’s plan for Israel upon the Body of Christ just as many false teachers do today. He wrote, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver [Strong’s: Grk exaireō means to tear out; pluck out, rescue] us from [Strong’s: Grk this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). Although this can be interpreted as an act of separation from the world, comparing Scripture with Scripture as a hermeneutic requisite provides some interesting PreTrib rapture consistency:

  • The Restrainer (Holy Spirit) will be taken out of (Grk: ek) the way (2 Thess. 2:7)[9]
  • Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from (Grk. ek) the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the Earth” (Revelation 3:10).

Daniel, prophecy and the Revelation

Daniel’s book predicts events swirling around the end times leading to the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The Gentile nations as well as Israel are clearly identified then appear later in Revelation, the fulfillment. Currently the prophecy clock awaits resumption at the 70th week. This cannot happen with the church body on earth because Scripture reveals God never operates simultaneously in His programs. Israel’s Tribulation is part of the prophecy program predicted to her as a prerequisite to the Kingdom, therefore the clock can’t resume while the mystery Body of Christ is here.

To further confirm our absence, God’s word proves the church Body of Christ is NEVER MENTIONED anywhere on earth during this time. While this alone should convince our opponents, it hasn’t. They continue pumping out propaganda in books quoting one another while ignoring this truth. Verify this for yourself. There are admittedly “words” that could be interpreted to be the Body of Christ, contextual use disqualifies it as inconclusive. Therefore, the only deduction making sense is that the church Body 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 [10] 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).

Chart: distinctions between Israel and the Church

 

Israel, a Nation Church, a Body
Prophecy – Earth Mystery – Heaven
Gospel of the Kingdom Gospel of Grace
Prophets of Israel Apostle to the Gentiles (Paul)
Focus on Israel Focus on the Church
Revelation with the Church

(to deliver Israel from Antichrist enemies and establish the Millennial kingdom)

Rapture for the Church

(to deliver us from Israel’s  Tribulation and bring us to Christ in Heaven- John 14:1-3)

Trumpet of angels (Mt 24:31) Trumpet of God (1 Thess. 4:16; Rev 4:1)
Gathering together on Earth

(Mt 24:31; 25:32-33; Mk 13:27)

Catching up into heaven
(1 Thess. 4:17)
He sends His angels to gather the elect

(Mt 24:31; Mt 25:31-32)

The Lord personally gathers His Church
(John 14:2-3; 1 Thess. 4:15-17)
All who survive Israel’s Tribulation

(Mt 25:31-33)

Only the saved
(1 Thess. 4:14)
Trumpet without voice
(Mt 24:31)
Voice of the archangel
(1 Thess. 4:16)
To the Earth (Zech 14:4) In the air (1 Thess. 4:17)
Both sheep and goats are gathered

(Mt 25:31-33)

Only saints are gathered
(1 Thess. 4:14-17)
Signs abound

(Mt 24; Mk 13:24; Acts 2:17-21)

No signs

(Titus 2:13; 1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-5:3)

A horrible time where all tribes mourn

(Joel 2; Rev 1:7)

A blessed hope and comfort

(John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:18; Titus 2:13

All who are alive at this time on Earth
(Mt 24:26; Rev 19:11-16)
Them which sleep, we which are alive
(1 Thess. 4:15-17; 1 Cor. 15:51)
No mention of resurrection of church saints, only Tribulation saints (Mt 24-25; Rev 20:4) Resurrection of dead church saints

(1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:16)

Comes on a horse (Rev 19:11-16) Comes on His own (1 Thess. 4:16)
The elect are on Earth

(Mt 24-25)

The Church is in Heaven

(Rev 1:12;20 cp. 4:1-5; 19:7-9)

Sheep and goat judgment

(Mt 25:31-33)

Judgment Seat of Christ

(Rom 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10)

Gathered from four winds (Mk 13:27) Gathered unto the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17)
Separation of mortal people for entrance into the Kingdom (Mt 25:31-36) Translation of saints into immortality

(1 Cor. 15:51-53)

Christ returns with His saints (Zech 12:5; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; Jude 14-15) Christ returns for His saints

(1 Thess. 4:16)

A well-known fact Called a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51)
Leaves them on the Earth

(Mt 25:31-34; Rev 20:6-7)

Takes us to Heavenly mansions

(John 14:2-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)

Israel and Gentiles are judged according to works (Mt 25:31-46) Church judged for rewards

(1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10)

Not a friendly encounter

(2 Thess. 1:7-8; Jude 14-15; Rev 19:11-21)

Meet  the Lord on friendly terms

(1 Thess. 4:17)

 

[1] And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)

[2] Here is an expressive listing of OT and NT references to the Kingdom: 2 Sam. 7:16; Psalm 85; 86:9; 89; Isa 2:2-4; 11; 14; 35; 52; 60; 62; 65; Jer 33; Ezek 33:21-36:38; 34:11-31; 37:21-28; 40-48; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14, 26-27; Hos 3; Amos 9; Micah 4-5; Zech 2:4-13; 8; 9:10; 14:9; Matt. 25:34; Rev 11:15; 20:1-7.

[3] 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).

[4] The definition of the word mystery given by Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of English Words is “a profound secret; something wholly unknown or something kept cautiously concealed, and therefore exciting curiosity or wonder . . . in religion, anything in the character or attributes of God, or in the economy of divine providence, which is not revealed to man.” Both the Body of Christ and the Rapture fit this description perfectly.

[5] 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. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Peter 3:15-17)

[6] Ek is also used in Rev. 3:10 by the Lord in His promise to the Philadelphia church: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from (ek) the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the Earth.”

[7] In a ten point PreTrib Rapture apologetic article, brother Geoffrey Grider, Editor of Now the End Begins, offers this: THE RAPTURE IS THE ‘BLESSED HOPE’ WHILE THE SECOND COMING IS A DAY TO BE GREATLY FEARED. We start with this one first because it is the one difference most overlooked in a study of the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming. In Titus 2:13, talking about the Rapture, Paul calls it “the Blessed Hope”, a day of great comfort and joy. But in Amos 5:18, talking about the Day of the Lord, which is in fact the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, God tells us that it is a day of “great woe”, and greatly to be feared! Now, how can the Rapture and the Second Coming possibly be the same? Read Joel 3 for more on the ferocity and woefulness of the Second Coming. Paul calls the Rapture of the Church the “day of Christ”. The Second Coming is called the “day of the Lord”. The day of Christ is to be looked forward to, the Day of the Lord to be feared. If you are someone who believes the Bible, then I could stop this article right here as I have established my case well beyond the shadow of any doubt, reasonable or otherwise. But for  you who are ” fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” then we have added another 9 rock-solid reasons why the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ cannot be the same event. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13 (KJV) – The Rapture

“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” 2 Thessalonians 2:2 (KJV) – The Rapture

“Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.” Amos 5:18 (KJV) – The Second Coming (Revelation)

“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.” Isaiah 13:9 (KJV) – The Second Coming (revelation). Source: http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/the-bible-believers-guide-to-understanding-the-differences-between-the-rapture-and-the-second-coming/

[8] A dispensation is simply a period of time whereby God deals with man differently than in other periods. Example, Adam was told NOT to eat from a particular tree; Noah was told to build an ark; Abraham was told to go to Canaan, and so forth.

[9] May I reiterate by comparing Scripture with Scripture. The Greek word for “out of” Paul used here is “ek” which is the same Greek word the Lord Jesus used in Rev. 3:10 when promising to keep the church “from the hour of temptation” we know to be the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 30-31; etc.

[10]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)

It’s Israel’s Tribulation after all

Dr. Mike Johnston

The tribulation – as it is most commonly known (Moses: Deut. 4:30; Jesus: Matt. 24:21, 29; and John: Rev. 7:14) – is also called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15), and “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10. From beginning to end, it is prophesied to Israel (Deut. 4:30), and primarily for Israel (Jer. 30-31; Dan. 12:1, Zeph. 1:15; Matt. 24:21, 29). Its purpose is to punish sin and sinners, and prepare earth and Israel for the Revelation of the Messiah and the Jewish Davidic Kingdom following (2 Sam. 7:16; Isa. 11; 65; Matt. 25:34; Rev. 20). While the prophets revealed the tribulation as a horrific but integral component in the Day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12, etc ), it was Daniel’s prophecy where its duration was revealed as the final week of seven years in his seventy week prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27; see Rev. 11:2-3; 12:14). To wit, while we can easily find Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth during “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). In fact, since God’s inspired prophets never mentioned or associated the Body of Christ with Israel’s tribulation one time, it would appear every attempt to place us here during this time is nothing short of an agenda driven attack on “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) demonstrably devoid of integrity and Biblical authority. In summary, there isn’t a prophecy or a single verse anywhere in the Bible conclusively identifying the Body of Christ on earth during Israel’s tribulation without pulling from context and redefining the words “saints” and “elect” – which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation specifically refer to Israel. In lieu of this, we are convinced that the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s tribulation!

Rapture-Tribulation Revelation Conundrums

Dr. Mike Johnston

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7).

Rightly dividing the word begins with God overseeing from creation (Gen. 1:1) [1] two overarching programs of “prophecy” and “mystery” both existing since the world began. The former concerns Earth, the latter heaven (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for Earth was well known in 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 to the prophets. It is the MYSTERY of 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).

When considering God’s program for Earth, we must follow the trail beginning in Genesis and continuing through the first half of Acts [2] – where a prophetic pattern is progressively dispensed[3] regarding the Jewish kingdom and Israel’s Messiah King outlined in the following facts:

FACT: God plans for an earthly Kingdom. (Gen. 1-2; Jer. 23:5-6; Matt. 25:34).

FACT: God chose and covenanted with Abraham as the progenitor of the Kingdom nation of Israel bequeathing him the land of the Canaanites (Gen. 15:18; 17:1-14). He then commissioned him as prophet (Gen. 20:7) and the father of Israel (Gen. 17:5; Deut. 9:5; Matt. 3:9; Luke 1:55; etc) whereby blessing would flow through his family – Jesus is the ultimate blessing – from His calling to her Kingdom (Gen. 12:1-8; 13:14-18; 15; 17; see Ex. 19:5; etc) and on throughout the earth.

FACT: God expanded the Abrahamic Covenant four times to include Kingdom laws (Ex. 20:1 – 31:18);  land (Deut. 30:1-10); and a Jewish born King with a New Covenant Kingdom Constitution (2 Sam. 7:8-16; Matt. 5-7; Jer. 31:31-40; Heb. 8:8, 13; 12:24).

FACT: God specified Israel’s Kingdom timeline of 70 weeks of 7 years (490 years) to be fulfilled by Israel (Dan. 9:24-27). “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4) who offered Israel her Kingdom, and was rejected precisely at the end of the 69th week just as Daniel prophesied (Luke 1:32-33; Matt. 4:17; Dan. 9:244-26). Just as the first 483 years had to be fulfilled by Israel, so must the final 7 years.

FACT: The rejection of the King and His kingdom temporarily blinded and diminished Israel (Rom. 11:12, 25). During this interim, the mystery Body that had been hidden from the prophets (Col. 1:26) was manifest and Daniel’s seventieth week for Israel was placed on hold until “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) and “he who now letteth … be taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:7). [4] At that point, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph 1:15) aka Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30-31; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14) will be ready to begin.

FACT: The Revelation of Jesus Christ occurs in Israel “immediately after Israel’s Tribulation of those days” (Matt. 24:29) to consummate the Covenant’s by inaugurating the thousand years Millennial Kingdom of Israel’s Messiah in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 7:8-16; Ezek. 34:11-31; Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11-20:7).

FACT: With Israel’s Covenants fulfilled concerning the Kingdom – and bear in mind they MUST BE – eternity will begin.

Prophecy and Mystery transitional confusion

The Rapture-Tribulation-Revelation debate continues to reveal the blindness of our opponents to what really happened in the first century AD is on a par with Israel (Rom. 11:25). In that state, they all refuse to accept that the PreTrib rapture is a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51-52) within a mystery (Rom. 16:25) having no connection to the revelation, and will present unsolvable riddles to all who insist on conflating the two.

God moved from prophecy to mystery some two thousand years ago after the wholesale rejection of the Messiah. Israel diminished (Rom. 11:12) as witnessed in the ministry of Peter, apostle to the circumcision,[5] which gave way for the Body of Christ – aka the uncircumcision – to manifest as the mystery under the ministry of Paul our apostle (study carefully Rom. 11:11-25).

This was not a fluid transition and many Jews didn’t understand it and were not supportive of it. In fact, Paul’s mystery dogma triggered confusion so intense it called for a church council in Acts 15 to assess the validity of OT Law and issue rulings on the new teachings which are no more accepted today than when Peter issued the following admonition in his Second Epistle to Jewish[6] believers:

“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. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:15-17 – bold added). [7]

Before we begin

The drama in the first century Peter explained exists today among certain Bible believers caught in a time warp, confused by conventional OT/NT division, [8] and thus blind to the mystery. What follows pulls back the curtain on many problems created by rejecting right division between prophecy and mystery with one probing question: “What rapture, tribulation, and revelation conundrums are created by Bible students rejecting Pauline doctrine?”

Please let me clarify what I’m suggesting by explaining what I am not.

I’m NOT naïve enough to think any single conundrum among the five dozen or so I’ve listed will prove a thing to a cynic. In truth, nothing short of a trip to Heaven can do that.

What I am suggesting, however, is the inconceivability that the following enigmas could exist together in any eschatological framework without presenting a formidable body of evidence refuting anti-PreTrib speculations while rendering them about as plausible as the universe accidentally belching forth from nowhere and out of nothing but time, chance, and an imaginative mind.

Conundrums: Compelling or Coincidental?

CONUNDRUM: Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ – by providence, purpose, or prophecy. There are no Scripture references to the church Body of Christ on earth for a single moment during Israel’s Tribulation.[9] All such references are the reveries of rapture haters desperate to put us here. Consider that the Body of Christ was not known and is never mentioned by any of the prophets; we are NEVER seen in any Tribulation passages. As inconvenient as this is to our opponents, here’s their conundrum. Israel and the Gentile nations involved with her are indisputably identifiable on earth from Scripture. There isn’t a single verse indisputably placing the church Body here for a single moment during this time without pulling from context the words “saints”, “elect”, and “disciple(s)” which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation reference Israel.

CONUNDRUM: There is no Scriptural purpose for the church Body to be here during Israel’s Tribulation. Israel is blind, living in rebellion, and her kingdom has not yet been inaugurated. But it will. The Tribulation judgment prepares her for that. Since Scripture tells us God has a purpose for everything He does (Ecc. 3:1, 17; Isa. 14:26; Jer. 26:3; Rom. 8:28; 9:11; Eph. 1:9, 11; 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9), and since redemption – available to all by faith (John 1:12; Eph. 2:8-10) – was fully completed as announced on the cross by Christ (John 19:30), what purpose would Israel’s Tribulation which is Earth centered and targets Israel primarily for judgment preparatory for the Kingdom – serve in the life of the church Body which is said to be saved, sealed, and seated in the heavenlies in Christ at this very moment (Eph. 1:13-14; 2:6)? [10]

CONUNDRUM: Regarding PostTrib speculators, how can the saints of the 2nd coming meet [11] the Lord in the air to be taken directly to the Father’s House (John 14:2-3; 1 Thess. 4:17) while at the same time returning with Christ to the Earth (Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13)?

CONUNDRUM: Israel’s Tribulation is a time of wrath and Christians are not appointed to wrath, but salvation or deliverance. [12] Advocates of PreWrath hasten to step in to claim a victory but do so at their hermeneutic peril. Revelation teaches us that Israel’s Tribulation is a time of the wrath of God [13] from beginning to end (Zeph. 1:15, 18; Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15). First the wrath of God through the Lamb (6:16-17); then the wrath of God through the devil (Rev. 12:12), and finally the wrath of God through the Father (Rev. 14-19). Nahum revealed that “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).  Christians are not His enemy. We are His Body and His Bride. As such, we are to wait for Christ “which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10) because “God hath not appointed us to wrath” (1 Thess 5:9).

CONUNDRUM: The first mention of the Tribulation is a prophecy by Moses to Israel for the latter days and concerns the restoration of the Abrahamic Covenant (Deut. 4:30-31). There are no prophecies in the Bible repeating this to the church Body. NONE!

CONUNDRUM: If every living saint is to be raptured up at the 2nd coming, why would the Lord Jesus need to have a sheep and goat judgment to divide His people (Matt 25:31-33)?

CONUNDRUM: We have provided a plethora of Scripture proving Israel’s Tribulation is a time of severe judgment on Israel and the world. Since Israel’s Tribulation begins with the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:16-17) if the Body/Bride of Christ is here, wouldn’t this equate to Christ pouring out his wrath upon Himself, and upon His Bride?

CONUNDRUM: Why do the writings of Paul focus upon the obedient walk of the Christian on Earth, yet not one word is provided for their behavior during the trials and horrors of Tribulation? He never even mentioned refusing the mark of the beast (Rev 13:18) which meant missing eternal life (14:9-12). Is this an egregious oversight on Holy Spirit’s part? [HINT: We’re not here]

CONUNDRUM: If the rapture and the revelation are the same, how does the church get to Heaven as Jesus promised (John 14:2-3) prior to returning with Christ at His Revelation (1 Thess. 2:19; Jude 14; Rev 19:11)?

CONUNDRUM: If the church Body [14] must be here for Israel’s Tribulation in order to prove ourselves worthy, then would it not stand to reason that our salvation wasn’t completed at Calvary and we are in fact saved by works?

CONUNDRUM: Why do the judgments of Revelation, which anti-PreTrib advocates maintain are intended to purify the church, appear to do just the opposite to people (Rev 16:8-9)?

CONUNDRUM: In a court of law, cases are generally won when witnesses are able to identify the defendant at the scene of the crime. If the Body of Christ were here during Israel’s Tribulation, it wouldn’t be necessary for false witnesses to skew the testimony by redefining terms like “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the book of Revelation refer to Israel. The Holy Spirit would have provided clear, indisputable prophetic witnesses to help identify us on Earth during that time as He did with Israel and the Gentile nations would He not?

CONUNDRUM: If Paul had taught the Thessalonian Church that they were to go through Israel’s Tribulation, why did they become so frantic when they had been told by a letter claiming to be from Paul that they were in it (2 Thess. 2:2)?[15]

CONUNDRUM: Every word of God is flawlessly set in the context of Scripture as God eternally decreed. Why when addressing the activities involving the church in the final Book which leads to the Revelation of Christ to Israel to set up the Davidic Kingdom, did He use the Greek word ekklesia [16] (church) 19 times in the first three chapters of Revelation, and yet never again until the 22nd Chapter? 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 Israel’s Tribulation horrors of wrath of God (Rev. 6-19) which is equally absurd. Third, the Holy Spirit was confirming to us that 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! In all honesty, this is the only choice an impartial eye can see through the factual, exegetical, objective lens.

CONUNDRUM: If the church were to be here during Israel’s Tribulation, what was the purpose of Paul changing the use of pronouns from we in (1 Thess. 4:13-17) [17],  to  they, them, and others (1 Thess. 5:3-7)?

CONUNDRUM: Posttribbers generally teach the Tribulation is a purifying epoch. Moreover, they teach that according to Rev. 3:10, God will protect us through it rather than deliver us from it via the rapture. But wait! If Israel’s Tribulation is intended to perfect and purify us as they allege, then why would the Lord even attempt to shield us from it (Rev 3:10)? This is inconsistent. Dr. David Reagan writes this: “But God’s promise to the Church during Israel’s Tribulation is not one of protection, but one of deliverance. Jesus said that when the signs pointing to Israel’s Tribulation “begin to take place,” believers are to look up because their “redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). He also urged believers to pray that they might “escape all these things” (Luke 21:36). [18]

CONUNDRUM: PreTrib rapture antagonists tell us that since the blessed hope is after Israel’s Tribulation, we are to be looking forward with great hope, for Antichrist and the horrors of Israel’s Tribulation which will include taking the mark in order to eat. Then, if we survive martyrdom, we’ll experience the rapture. Therefore, comfort one another with these words? (1 Thess. 4:18)!

CONUNDRUM: Paul obviously taught the resurrection of the church Body of Christ – aka the rapture – would occur before Israel’s Tribulation. Teachers appeared not to deny the rapture, with false claims it had already occurred: “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:18). Be honest here. If the rapture is anything but PreTrib, this makes no sense whatsoever.

CONUNDRUM: Since prophecy warns that Israel’s Tribulation will be the most frightening and unparalleled event in history, wouldn’t it have been incumbent upon the Holy Spirit to mention the Body of Christ in the Old Testament or upon Paul our apostle to provide the Body of Christ with clear preparation information?

CONUNDRUM: Since the rapture is the event that transforms our earthly mortal bodies into immortal heavenly bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-18), how did the Elders which are in Heaven BEFORE Israel’s Tribulation get their bodies prior to Israel’s Tribulation if there is no PreTrib rapture (Rev 4:1-5)?

CONUNDRUM: The crown of righteousness (2 Tim 4:8) stands out as a special reward given only to those who long for His appearing. Now think about this. If Christians have to be here during the entire 7 year Tribulation, wouldn’t every Christian receive this crown since everyone would be eager for His appearing?

CONUNDRUM: If the church is here during Israel’s Tribulation, why is Israel singled out for protection and not the Body of Christ (Rev 12:13-17)?

CONUNDRUM: If we are here during Israel’s Tribulation and receive our transformed, immortal bodies at a posttrib rapture with everybody else who has survived the holocaust, who will populate the millennial Earth?[19]

CONUNDRUM: If the church is to be here for Israel’s Tribulation, why does God only select and seal 144,000 Jews[20] for protection (Rev 7:1-8; 9:4 [21]; 14:1)?

CONUNDRUM: Why is the term “mystery” which means something not previously known used to describe the rapture resurrection (1 Cor. 15:51), when the 2nd coming and the future resurrection were clearly taught in prophetic Scripture?

CONUNDRUM: Why is it Post-trib rapturists stand alone in their belief of just one coming?

CONUNDRUM: While attempting to place the last trump of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:51) with the seventh trumpet in Revelation (Rev 11:15), PreTrib rapture antagonists  fail to explain that the 7th trumpet is blown before the end of Israel’s Tribulation, before the seven bowl judgments (Rev 16), and way before the revelation of Christ that they claim they’re part of (Rev 19:11). All other positions would agree that while posttribbers are zealous in their attempt to use this trumpet in their favor, it actually stands as a bold witness against their erroneous interpretations. Can you explain this if this is your position?

CONUNDRUM: If the rapture is at the end of Israel’s Tribulation, what is the purpose of the saints leaving the Earth at all to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17)?

CONUNDRUM: If the rapture is posttrib, why did Paul encourage the Thessalonians to comfort one another rather than insisting they begin stockpiling food, clothing, and water, in preparation for possible martyrdom like Dave MacPherson (more on him later) and other post-tribbers do? Do our adversaries know something Paul and the Holy Spirit didn’t?

CONUNDRUM: If the church Body of Christ is here during Israel’s Tribulation, why are only 144,000 Jews from the twelve tribes of Israel alone doing the evangelism work (Rev. 7; 14)?

CONUNDRUM: If there is only one coming of Christ, how can 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; and Jude 1:14 be harmonized with 1 Cor. 15:51-53 and 1 Thess. 4:13-18? How can we come with Him when He comes for us?

CONUNDRUM: The rapture is when Christ returns in the air and saints’ are caught up to meet the Lord with transformed bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18), then are escorted to Heaven with Him (John 14:2-3). If the posttrib rapture position is scriptural, why then do the passages that should have included these events seem to teach something completely different (Mt 24; Rev 19)?

CONUNDRUM: How can the church which is said to be permanently sealed and seated in the heavenlies in Christ (Eph 1:13-14; 2:6; Phil 3:20; Col. 3:1-3) possibly be on Earth experiencing the wrath of God’s judgment?

CONUNDRUM: There are at least four opinions of when the Lord will return relative to Israel’s tribulation. Knowing truth is the enemy of Satan, why would all the other rapture positions forego their differences and join in such acerbic attacks against the PreTrib rapture if it is not the true position?

CONUNDRUM: In the 4th Century AD, the heretick Origen, Alexandrian manuscript [22] editor, and his Romanist progeny Augustine led eschatology from the literal to allegorical interpretation of the Bible.[23] Up to that time, PreTrib was a commonly held view.

CONUNDRUM: Anti PreTrib rapturists salivating over placing the church Body on Earth during Israel’s Tribulation holocaust for “purification” purposes are in fact teaching a form of the Romanist heresy known as purgatory.

CONUNDRUM: How do you explain the phrase, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” which occurs seven times in the first three chapters (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22) being edited in Revelation 13:9, by removing the church: “If any man have an ear, let him hear”?

CONUNDRUM: Israel’s Tribulation is Jacob’s trouble and Jacob is Israel (Jeremiah 30:3-7). Where does this designation change to include the mystery body of Christ? (chapters and verses, please)

CONUNDRUM: Israel’s Tribulation is an OT prophecy where all prophecy originated. From the very first mention (Deut. 4:30-31) it has been a prediction of a future period of punitive and preparatory judgment upon Israel and the world [24] preceding the Revelation of Jesus Christ to set up the Millennial Kingdom in Jerusalem foretold by Daniel the prophet, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostle John in the Revelation. Where is the first prophetic OT mention for the Body of Christ? [HINT: there isn’t one]

CONUNDRUM: Why is Israel, not the church, given a place of refuge in the wilderness- (Rev 12:1-6)?

CONUNDRUM: This is the dispensation of grace. Grace is mentioned in Revelation two times only (Rev. 1:4; 22:21). Why is it never mentioned during the period of Israel’s Tribulation?

CONUNDRUM: The Body of Christ suffering punishment of God’s wrath during Israel’s Tribulation completely negates the work of Christ on the cross depicted in Isaiah 53!

CONUNDRUM: Israel’s Tribulation is Jewish, purposed to being Israel back into conformity with God plan for the Earthly Kingdom.  [25]

CONUNDRUM: Israel’s Tribulation is severe punishment of sin and the ungodly beginning with Jews- (Deut. 30:7; 32:43; Isa. 2:19-21; Isa. 13; 24; 34;  Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7; 12:1; Joel 2; Zephaniah, see 1:15; Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19). The church Body is never mentioned and can’t be found for a single moment without redefining a few terms which refer to Israel.

CONUNDRUM: If the Body of Christ is supposed to be here during Israel’s Tribulation – an epoch event to punish sin   and prepare Israel (Isa. 2:19-21; Isa. 13, see v13; Isa. 13; 24; 26; 34; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7; 12:1; Joel 2; Zephaniah, see 1:15); Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19) for the Jewish Kingdom – what is the purpose for it since Christ purified and sanctified the Body of Christ once and for all, seating us in the heavenlies permanently in the Beloved?

CONUNDRUM: Israel isn’t saved yet: (Rom 10:1; 11:26-27); the church has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (Eph 1:7; Rom 10:9-10,13) delivered from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9). Israel’s Tribulation will lead Israel to accepting the Lord at the conclusion (Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11). There is NO reason the church Body would need to be here except in the minds of our opponents.

CONUNDRUM: Israel’s Tribulation is centralized around Jerusalem- (Dan. 7:23; Zech. 12-14; Matt. 24:21-22; Luke 21:20, 24; Rev 13:3,8,14-18). It will re-establish God’s covenant with Israel- (Deut 4:30-31). The church Body can’t be seen because we aren’t here.

CONUNDRUM: The origin of Israel’s Tribulation is Old Testament prophetic and Jewish (Deut. 4:30-31). It’s focus is Earth culminating in a Jewish Kingdom (Rev. 19:11) and renewal of the Jewish Covenant (Deut. 4:31). The church Body wasn’t known, isn’t mentioned, and can’t be clearly identified anywhere on Earth during this time.

CONUNDRUM: Christ promised to keep believers from (ek) “the hour of temptation” not in it (Revelation 3:10). Anti-PreTrib rapture advocates, desperate to protect a speculative dogma have made another baleful blunder by insinuating the Lord’s promise here in Rev. 3:10 was simply to protect us during Jacob’s trouble not remove us from it. However, several problems surface in connection to this: First, the Greek word translated “from” is ek. Used 917 times in NT, only once (Gal 3:8) is it translated through. Interestingly, this is the same word the Holy Spirit chose for Second Thessalonians where Paul discusses the Antichrist and the restraining force holding him at bay: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out (ek) of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). This seems to coincide- much to the dismay of Anti-PreTrib rapturists- with our being taken away in the mystery rapture. Second, our adversaries claiming God’s protection during Israel’s holocaust aren’t reading a King James Bible. During Israel’s Tribulation – which is God’s wrath from beginning to end [26] two-thirds (2/3) of those alive will die (Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-10; Rev. 20:4). Third, if Israel’s Tribulation were supposed to purify us, why would God protect us from it? Finally, since there is no reason to place us here in the midst of Israel’s Tribulation, and no Scripture to support it, why join forces with agenda driven men who in the name of “fairness” twist the Bible in a hundred different ways simply to place us in Israel’s Tribulation where we can’t be seen and we don’t belong?

CONUNDRUM: The fact that the prophets that predicted Israel’s Tribulation NEVER KNEW about the Body of Christ and NEVER ONCE mentioned us here on Earth during that time.

CONUNDRUM: The Word of God correlates marriage and the church beautifully (Eph 5:22-33). If the Church is the Bride of Christ, anything but a PreTrib rapture presents a horrible scenario. Picture if you will a man marrying his sweetheart, and just before the wedding night where they consummate their vows, he drops her off in the midst of a bloody, throatslitting jihad with this ominous send off, “Prove your love for me, honey, and I’ll be back for you in seven years.” Although indefensible and extremely inconvenient, PreTrib rapture antagonists force this unnatural act of sadism on the part of the Saviour.

CONUNDRUM: The Restrainer (Holy Spirit) will be “taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:7; same Greek ek in Rev. 3:10 “from”). This means only that one aspect of His ministry will cease, that of restraint of sin in the world.[27] Since the church Body of Christ is currently God’s representative entity today, our removal is necessary for the prophecy clock to resume with Israel once again as His messenger.

CONUNDRUM: We are commanded to look for Christ, which is imminent and could happen at any moment, not Tribulation, signs, Antichrist, or anything else- (Titus 2:13). Every rapture position except PreTrib provides a possible timetable to Christ’s return. God’s Word PROMISES Christ will rescue us from the coming wrath (1 Thess. 1:10). This deliverance constitutes our present, imminent, blessed hope (Titus 2:13). The imminent, pre-Tribulation rapture was taught[28] by the early church [29]. Paul never said the church would be part of Israel’s Tribulation or else he would have taught them how to prepare for it and how to recognize Antichrist and reject his mark. Never a word! In light of the fact Paul is our apostle, this doesn’t begin to make any sense to anyone except an anti-PreTrib rapture promoter.

CONUNDRUM: Glorified bodies cannot reproduce, or die as evidenced in the Millennium (Rev 20:1-7). The rapture will transform mortal bodies into immortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-56). Children will be born and they will die (Isa 65:20-25). Glorified saints will rule with Christ (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 5:10; 20:4).

CONUNDRUM: The Holy Spirit’s designation as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; see Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15) is purposeful. Jacob is Israel, not the Body of Christ (Gen. 32:28). Moreover, Daniel prophesied the tribulation to Israel as “thy people” (Dan. 9:24-27) (Jews) and called it the “time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1). Zephaniah called it a “day of trouble” (Zeph. 1:15). Without redefining the word “saints” in Daniel and Revelation, which refer to Israel, where did the Holy Spirit mention the church Body of Christ? [HINT: He didn’t]

CONUNDRUM: The rules of hermeneutics such as the First Mention Principle prove God assigned Israel’s Tribulation to Israel (Deut. 4:30) then through progressive revelation reinforced it. It has NEVER been assigned to the Body of Christ.

CONUNDRUM: The fact that Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations are clearly visible on Earth during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15) there are no Scriptures picturing the Body of Christ without manipulating the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which is Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation care clearly associated with Israel.

CONUNDRUM: The distinction between the Rapture for the Body of Christ and the Revelation of Christ to Israel prove Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ. Prophecy is for the nation Israel, NOT the Body of Christ.

CONUNDRUM: Our opponents often have such an emotional investment in their theory they become calloused to any idea but their own. Since they must force every passage about the coming of Christ into a Revelation meaning, they leave no room for passages that seem to contradict that thinking. Remember, things that are different are not the same. For instance: Compare 1 Thess. 1:10 with 1 Thess. 2:19; 1 Thess. 1:10 with Rev. 6:16-17. Either there are two separate comings or the Bible contradicts itself.

With all due respect, may I challenge you to begin an experiment – as I did several decades ago – using the prophecy mystery division you’ve learned in this book. As you begin being honest with the context of the passage including any similarities and or dissimilarities remember, things that are different are NOT the same.

CONUNDRUM: The Scriptural promises that the heavenly Body of Christ would escape this divine punishment for Israel (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – because it is NOT FOR US.

CONUNDRUM: “Some who believe that the Church will go through Israel’s Tribulation often point to the example of Noah and his family. They were left on the Earth as God poured out His wrath, but they were protected by the Lord. But this example ignores the fact that Enoch was raptured out of the world before the flood began (Genesis 5:24). I believe Enoch is a symbolic type of the Church and Noah and his family are a type of the Jewish remnant that will be protected through the Tribulation until the day that the Messiah returns.” –Dr David Reagan[30]

CONUNDRUM: Right division alone makes sense of the enigmatic considerations listed in this section. If you are still struggling with the rapture question, it’s because you are fighting against rightly dividing the Bible between what the prophets gave to Israel concerning the Kingdom on Earth (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21), and what Christ gave to Paul concerning the mystery Body of Christ and our inheritance in Heaven consummated at the rapture (Rom. 16:25).

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).

[1] In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1)

[2] Bear in mind Acts is a transitional book, from prophecy to mystery about midway through.

[3] God dispensing His truth over time in a variety of ways to a variety of people is known as dispensationalism. As the truth was given, individuals were held accountable for obeying it. Example, Adam was told not to eat from a particular tree. Noah was told to build an ark. Abraham was told to go to Canaan, and so on.

[4] The Body of Christ that appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) will likewise disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51-52) called the rapture.

[5] The Lord Jesus was minister of the circumcision, too: Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: (Romans 15:8)

[6] Peter was the apostle to the Jews as Paul was to the Gentiles. Study carefully Gal. 1:12 which explains the source of Paul’s mysterious doctrine and Gal. 2:6-9 which explained the important distinction between the ministries and messages of James, Cephas (Peter), John, and himself.

[7] Peter’s warnings to those rejecting Pauline theology are stern. He begins by affirming Paul’s conversion (brother) and authority calling his writings scriptures although admitting Paul’s doctrines were hard to be understood (a mystery) and thus opposed by the unlearned and unstable (alluding to Jews under the Old Covenant prophecy program) who wrested against moving from prophecy to mystery causing their own spiritual destruction. Beware, he warns, of being led away from Paul is the implication, by the error of the wicked which apparently was already causing men to fall from doctrinal stedfastness (see Eph. 4:13-14).

[8] They teach the NT began with Matt. 1, when in fact it did not begin until the death of Christ. This means all 4 gospels are part of the OT narrative.

[9] There aren’t any. Dr. Gerald Stanton states that even anti-PreTrib antagonist kingpin Dr. George Ladd can’t produce any such verses. Kept from the Hour (p. 310

[10] Dr. David Reagan offers this for your consideration: “There really is no purpose for the Church to be present during the Tribulation. It is a time of the pouring out of God’s wrath upon those who have rejected His grace, love and mercy. There are some who argue that the Church must be “purged” during the Tribulation to purify it. But to me, this idea is absurd. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse us of all our sins. That is an accomplished fact for those who have put their faith in Jesus (Ephesians 5:26-27). Furthermore, the concept of purging the Church during the Tribulation converts the whole period into a Protestant version of purgatory. It also violates the wedding imagery that the Bible uses to describe the relationship between Christ and His Church. Jesus is not going to beat up His Bride for seven years and then marry her!” http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-mystery-of-the-rapture/

[11] The Greek word is ap-an’tay-sis, which means a friendly encounter. Stanton says the cognate verb, ap-an’tah-o is used seven times, none of which continued on with Christ or the person, but were sent elsewhere. Posttribbers tell us that it’s use in the NT describes those meeting someone returning with them in the direction they were originally headed, thereby proving that we indeed meet Christ in the air, but immediately return with Him to Earth (like a yo-yo). In Matt 25, the bridegroom returned for his bride and she went with him back in the opposite direction to his father’s house. Acts 28:15 the brothers met Paul’s party and traveled with them to Rome. Again the study of the evidence proves that a sand foundation is most difficult to build on.

[12] The Greek word here is sōtēria. The KJV translators also rendered it “deliver” as in Acts 7:25 and then in Luke 1:71 revealed how Christ “saved” Israel from her earthly enemies to come. I believe this further reveals how the heavenly mystery church has been “saved” from the wrath to come upon the earth to try all the earth dwellers featuring Israel (see Rev. 3:10).

[13] “…for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13).

[14] It is a mutually agreed upon fact that there will be a church present during the tribulation, but it will be the professing, idolatrous whore who rides the beast, not the spotless, blood bought bride of Christ!

[15]Actually they should have been rejoicing that Christ would be coming in seven years for them!

[16] English Bible translation is church.

[17] If posttribbers would only let the Bible speak for itself the debate would end. This was no coincidence that the Holy Spirit placed the rapture before the Day of the Lord in this passage.

[18] http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-mystery-of-the-rapture/

[19]Children will be born during this prosperous time (Isa 65:22-23; Zech 8:5).

[20] Those who refuse to allow the Bible to speak for itself have spiritualized these Jews and making them the church. However great care is given by the Holy Spirit to tell us the very tribes these men came from. Further, there are no more distinction between Jews and Gentiles in the church (1 Cor 12:12-13; Eph 2:11-18). Note earlier in our study regarding the difference between Israel and the Church

[21] This is undeniably the wrath of God and the Lamb (Rev 6:16-17).

[22] The family of manuscripts from which all modernist translations originate. Only the KJV is solely from the Antiochan family.

[23] In Origen’s system of interpretation, he often denied the ordinary sense of the text, and replaced it with allegories which he made up. These allegories then became the real meaning of the text. There was no way to challenge the allegories on the basis of the text, since what the text actually said was no longer what it meant. It was, therefore, no longer necessary that the allegory actually come from the text, because it was the allegory that was authoritative. The theology which the allegory illustrated was imposed upon the text. In this allegorical system, when the text said, “Israel,” it meant “the Church” and not the Jews, so long as the promise or comment in the text was good. If the promise or comment in the text was not good, then “Israel” still meant “the Jews,” and not “the Church.” His theology determined how the text was to be understood, rather than the text determining what should be understood and believed (copied from Elijah.net).

[24] Christ took our judgment upon Himself. The church does not need the judgment of the tribulation which is proven from the Pentateuch to the Apocalypse to be for unsaved Israel and the Gentile nations of the world.

[25] Study the book of Judges and the cycle of rebellion, retribution, and repentance; see also Jer. 30-31; Matthew 24-25; Rev. 6-19; etc.

[26] The tribulation from beginning to end is God’s wrath. The wrath of God through the Lamb (Rev. 6-11); the wrath of God through Satan (Rev. 12-13); the wrath of God through angels and the Lamb (Rev. 14-19). “…for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13).

[27] The Bible & Future Events, Leon Wood, Zondervan, p.71-72

[28] From JR Church’s Prophecy in the News, April 1995, p.27-28: Two ancient sources, the Shepherd of Hermes (AD 110) and two books by Ephraim the Syrian (AD 376) which were recently translated into English) prove the apostolic authority of the pretrib rapture. Although it could be argued that these sources aren’t to be regarded as Scripture, it also could be argued that neither are the authorities freely quoted by the mid, pre-wrath, partial and post-trib camp (Gundry, Ladd, MacPherson, etc).

[29] Posttribulationists like J. Barton Payne also admit that the early fathers held to an imminency viewpoint.  He surmises: It must therefore be concluded that the denial of the imminence of the Lord’s coming on the part of post-tribulationists who have reacted against dispensationalism is not legitimate. . . . Belief in the imminency of the return of Jesus was the uniform hope of the early church; and it was only with the rise of a detailed application of Bible prophecy, at the close of the second century, to yet future history that its truth was questioned. J. Barton Payne, The Imminent Appearing of Christ (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962), 102. Source: http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/a-history-of-pre-darby-rapture-advocates#_ftn13

[30] http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-mystery-of-the-rapture/

Fake News Headline: “The PreTrib Rapture is a Giant Hoax that didn’t exist until 1830”

Dr. Mike Johnston

We’ve established in this dissertation that right division systematically dismantles any attack against the PreTrib rapture, including this one. Therefore, discussions with those pushing this narrative are unproductive and inconsequential; especially when the truth is known about their own fake news story.

Researching what many to believe is like a cannon ball in a rapture believer’s belly, I discovered the 1830 rapture origin story is itself a giant hoax invented some 40 years ago by a disingenuous and disgruntled rapture-loathing anti-Zionist[1] named Dave MacPherson (DM). [2] Oddly, what MacPherson – a marketing mastermind – lacks as an honest journalist, he possesses as a crafty book peddler incorporating half-truths mixed with character assassinations reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s ruthless secret police chief, Lavrentiy Beria who bragged, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”

In case you’re not familiar with MacPherson, he has successfully nurtured from nothing a culture of cretins as disrespectful to the brethren as they are to the facts. His shtick, underwritten by imaginative innuendo, represents the rapture as a pervasive fraud with an elaborate cover up on the part of the Plymouth Brethren to hide a dubious origin MacPherson claims [3] didn’t exist until 1830. According to the MacPherson mythos, that was the year a demon-possessed charismatic member of Edward Irving’s[4] Catholic Apostolic Church by the name of Margaret MacDonald [5] conjured it up in a vision; recorded and published later by her apostolic husband Robert Norton. [6] Without a smidgeon of conviction or conscience, MacPherson glides effortlessly from story teller to character assassin by picturing a Plymouth Brethren [7] scholar named John Nelson Darby [8] as a compromising theological thug who jettisoned his integrity to pilfer MacDonald’s vision even though Darby had publicly labeled it of demonic origin.[9] He then charges Pastor Darby with stealing it to take credit for it, then propagate it to the world through the reference Bible of another nemesis, CI Scofield.[10] All rumored in DM’s multi-volume fantasy franchise to be part of an arcane scheme Darby, Scofield[11] and the Plymouth Brethren cooked up in some dimly lit room for no earthly reason other than the back slapping joy they all shared in knowing they were deceiving innocent Christian people.

Dave didn’t tell the whole truth

Evidence is overwhelming that MacPherson constructed his empire from not much more than imagination and ingenious book marketing methods. This he accomplished by publishing the same fact flouting manuscript under a variety of seductive titles making allegations devoid of credible corroboration.

While conducting my due diligence for this book, I found several great and godly scholars who after fact checking MacPherson were less than convinced by the sources he offers for the conclusions he retails. While many could be cited, I’ll quote two here to save space.

In Kept from the Hour, Dr. Gerald Stanton makes this observation: “It will immediately be apparent that his book titles are provocative, if not abusive. There has been no “cover-up” or “hoax,” for Pretrib authors and leaders have arrived at their conclusion from Biblical exegesis rather than from any presumed history of the doctrine, and most certainly with no desire to defraud. Furthermore, to attack the morality and integrity of fellow believers just to further an eschatological opinion is a disgrace to the Name and cause of Christ.”

Another observation of MacPherson’s distortions comes from respected theologian and former President of Dallas Theological Seminary, the late 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.” [12]

Although evidence is not favorable to MacPherson, his musings for four decades have been pounded like a jungle drum nonstop; first by him and then through the list of loquacious lackeys pushing his suppositions underwritten by a daisy chain of unknown bibliographical references featuring his name atop the catbird seat. Wondering how a man can command such blind loyalty the Holy Spirit led me to re-reading this old proverb under new light with a fresh application for Mac’s mob: “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue” (Proverbs 17:4).

Consideration by contrast

MacPherson’s literature is clumsy, condescending, and combative. He has no use for anyone believing in the PreTrib rapture implying they are of subpar intelligence and in a conspiracy only Satan could orchestrate. His nastiness notwithstanding, here’s a small list of impeccable Biblical scholars he consigns to Hell simply for disagreeing with him.

Isaac Watts, JN Darby, CI Scofield, John Gill, Morgan Edwards, DL Moody, RA Torrey, Clarence Larkin, Lewis Sperry Chafer. William R. Newell, J. Vernon McGee, David Jeremiah, Lehman Strauss, Jack Van Impe, Merrill Unger, Dave Reagan, Sir Robert Anderson. Charles Swindoll, Jerry Falwell, Jack Hyles, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Dave Hunt, Noah Hutchings, J. Dwight Pentecost, Zola Levitt, J. Randall Price, Dave Breese, Jimmy DeYoung, AC Gaebelein, MR DeHaan, JR Church, HA Ironside, Gary Stearman, Tommy Ice, Hal Lindsey, Ed Hindson, Grant Jeffrey, Chuck Missler, and many more. [13]

The following links provide a partial list of additional research information from Biblical scholars who have themselves thoroughly researched and refuted most every misrepresentation, misquote,  and misapplication MacPherson has made over the past 40 years of attacks against the “blessed hope”.

  • Church, JR (deceased) Founder of Prophecy in the News

https://prophecyinthenews.com/articles/pretribulation-rapture-taught-by-early-church/

  • Ice, Dr. Thomas: Director of the PreTrib Research Center

http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/myths-of-origin-pretribulationism-part-1

http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/rapture-myths

  • Examining a PreTrib Rapture Statement

http://www.grantjeffrey.com/article/examining_an_ancient.htm

  • Marotta, Frank: Brethren scholar

http://www.according2prophecy.org/macphers.html

  • Missler, Dr. Chuck: Byzantine Text Discovery: Ephraem The Syrian

http://www.khouse.org/articles/1995/39/

  • Reagan, Dr. David: Director of Lamb & Lion Ministries

http://christinprophecy.org/articles/in-defense-of-the-pre-tribulation-rapture/

https://www.raptureforums.com/rapture/origin-pre-tribulational-rapture/

  • Strandberg, Todd: Director of Rapture Ready

http://www.raptureready.com/faq-did-dave-macpherson-invent-the-false-history-of-the-pr-trib-rapture/

  • Stunt, Timothy CF: Brethren scholar

http://brethrenhistory.org/qwicsitePro/php/docsview.php?docid=415

  • Wilkinson, Dr. Paul: Brethren scholar

http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/left-behind-or-led-astrayexposed-long-version

[1] MacPherson fails to mark the clear distinction between Israel and the church Body, often painting Christians supporting Jews as evil “pretrib rapture merchandisers and Christian Zionists” who DM claims are more interested in the government than in the gospel.

http://www.moresureword.com/MacPherson.htm

[2] MacPherson’s venom contaminates everything he touches. I’ve studied his feckless philosophy cover to cover and frankly the spirit driving him makes my skin crawl. Therefore, I’ll not pull any punches in unmasking him and the nasty things he writes about decent men whose only “crime” is in disagreeing with him (Rom. 16:17-18).

[3] MacPherson offers what he swears is proof, but since he is the only person having the sources, scholars have concluded his “findings” are NOT to be trusted.

[4] 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]

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

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

[7] Pastor Darby is known as the father of modern dispensationalism. MacPherson’s hatred for dispensationalism (calling it a heresy) stems from his refusal to rightly divide the Word and allow Israel her rightful place in God’s overall economy. His writings are inexorably anti-Semitic.

[8] In his commentary on Revelation, William R. Newell called Darby the greatest interpreter of the Bible since Paul – http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/proph/newelltr.pdf. A collection of Darby’s writings are available at Plymouth Brethren archives: http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/byauthor/5/john_nelson_darby

[9] Researcher Billy Crone traveled to Europe including Scotland where he discovered Darby no doubt heard about MacDonald’s 1830 charismatic manifestation, but considered them demonic and not of God. It also appears in the book by Wilkinson, Paul Richard (2007). For Zion’s Sake: Christian Zionism and the Role of John Nelson Darby. Paternoster. pp. 192–93.

[10] If Darby laid claim to MacDonald’s vision – which incidentally was partial mid trib and post trib, why didn’t Scofield give him credit?

[11] MacPherson loathes both Darby and Scofield. For a clear report on the life of Scofield, may I suggest Dr. Robert Sumner’s piece: http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/dispen/canfield.pdf

[12] More information available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret: MacDonald: (visionary)

[13] Once again, if you buy MacPherson’s narrative, you have to believe as he does that he’s the chosen and enlightened one and EVERY ONE else including this list of renowned PreTrib Bible scholars are half baked malevolent morons deceiving the church with the devil’s lie.

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