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Reviewing the Facts about Israel’s Tribulation

Dr. Mike Johnston

You may have gathered from what you’ve read that Israel’s Tribulation is a highly disputed Bible doctrine. Retrospectively, over the past forty years I’ve found opinions surrounding it such as its name, length, participants, purpose, and timing of the Lord’s return, to be vacuous, vicious [1] and extremely varied. This need not be if Bible teachers will employ sound hermeneutics rather than self-serving hubris.

From the first mention [2] in Deuteronomy 4:30-31 through Revelation 19, the Tribulation is pictured as a time of trouble for Jacob, and Jacob is Israel (Gen. 32:28; Deut. 31; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15). God designed it to ultimately lead His rebellious, stubborn hearted Jewish people into repentance preparatory to the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Rev. 20) in Jerusalem.

One can be sure, “in that day” (Isa. 2:11, 17, 20; 11:11; Jer. 30:8; etc); “the day of the Lord” (Isa. 2:12; 13:6; 13:9; Jer. 46:10; etc), “a day of darkness and of gloominess” (Joel 2:2), the wayward, blind, and slumbering Israel (Rom. 11:8) will awaken to find herself once again on center stage fulfilling Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27), (study Isaiah 2; 24; Joel; Zephaniah, Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; and Revelation 6-19), currently on hold. The Tribulation week will be followed by the Revelation of Jesus Christ predicted for Israel “in time past” (Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Acts 14:16; Rev. 19:11-21) to occur in the “ages to come”.

Now keep at the forefront of your thinking that understanding right division God placed in Scripture is a prerequisite to arriving at right conclusions. This author – along with numerous scholars – has identified Israel’s future time of trouble as Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; 26; Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15; Matt. 24:21, 29; Rev. 7:14). Moreover, it is significant to note that every prophet discussing it invariably consigned it to Israel (study the descriptions in Isaiah 2; 24; Jeremiah 30-31; Hosea. 5:15; Joel; Zeph. 1:15). Unless you understand the connection prophecy brings to Israel’s Tribulation and her earthly Kingdom – which are completely separate from the church Body – you will have nothing from which to base right division and will remain as doctrinally destitute as most of the writers filling bookshelves with their groundless supposition presuming what they can never prove.

With that, allow me reiterate what Scripture reveals from cover to cover: There isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and indisputably placing the Body of Christ on earth during Israel’s Tribulation without redefining the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples ”which in context of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation clearly identify Israel. Now, using this as a backdrop, we must continue to Biblically reject the crass manipulation that exists in the PreTrib antagonist writings beginning by misrepresenting as untrue the fact that Israel’s Tribulation has been – from the beginning – prophesied for Jacob, aka Israel; NEVER for the Body of Christ (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29; Isa. 2; 24; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15).

Israel’s Tribulation is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in the Bible. As an eschatological theme, we know Israel’s Tribulation part of Israel’s prophecy program, given to her in “time past” [3] (Eph. 2:11) to be fulfilled in the “ages to come”[4] (Eph. 2:7). However, trying to make sense of it apart from understanding God’s purpose for it, is like trying to assemble a 1000 piece puzzle with no picture and pieces missing.

Here’s the dilemma driving our opponents to distort the truth about us and the PreTrib rapture position we interpret from right division.

If the church Body of Christ is present on earth even for a moment of Israel’s Tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. To wit, while we can easily identify Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations here during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; see Deut. 4:30-31; Isa. 2; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7-12; Joel 2; Zeph. 1), the heavenly Body of Christ – which is 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). Let the record show, there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and unequivocally placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Israel’s holocaust without redefining the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation are specifically linked to Israel.

Here is our chart at the conclusion of these next three chapters.

RIGHT DIVISION
Prophecy
Israel

the Elect Nation

Kingdom

Earth

Spokesmen: Prophets and Peter
Time Past – Ages to come

Genesis-John and Hebrews-Revelation
Gospel of the Kingdom – Circumcision

Tribulation – time of Jacob’s trouble

Looking for the Revelation after Tribulation

Mystery
Church
the Body of Christ

Inheritance
Heaven

Spokesman: Paul
But now

Romans-Philemon
Gospel of Grace – Uncircumcision

Looking for the Rapture before Tribulation

Returning with Jesus in the Revelation

[1] For merely disagreeing on the timing of the rapture, I’ve been insulted, cussed out, had my salvation impugned, as well as my intelligence. I’ve even been threatened with bodily harm, all by men who claim to be bearers of truth as “new creatures” in Christ.

[2] The Law of First Mention teaches that the first time a subject is mentioned in the Bible is how it stands connected in the mind of God throughout Scripture.

[3] This covers Genesis through John with historical narrative through Mid Acts.

[4] This covers Hebrews through Revelation.

Israel was Chosen for a Kingdom

February 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

Prophecy proves Israel is very special to God, and His prophets have always guided and guarded her (Amos 3:7; Luke 1:70; Acts 3:12-26). Beginning in Genesis and continuing through the first half of Acts – a prophetic pattern is progressively dispensed [1] regarding the Jewish earthly kingdom and the Messiah King. Here’s an overview of God’s prophecy program leading to Israel’s Kingdom.

  1. An earthly Kingdom has been on God’s agenda from the beginning (Gen. 1-2; Matt. 25:34).
  2. God’s will and His Word have been revealed through God’s inspired servants the prophets (2 Kings 9:7; 17:13; Ezra 9:11; see especially Amos 3:7).
  3. Israel exists from prophecy spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21).
  4. God chose and Covenanted with Abraham; commissioning 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, from His calling to her Kingdom (Gen. 12:1-8; 13:14-18; 15; 17; see Ex. 19:5; etc). [Jesus is the ultimate blessing]
  5. Over the years, 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 Constitution for the Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:8-16; Matt. 5-7; Jer. 31:31-40).
  6. God specified Israel’s Kingdom would commence following a 490 year prophecy of seventy weeks of seven years broken into two parts: 483 years and 7 years that the nation Israel herself must fulfill (Dan. 9:24-27).
  7. “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).
  8. Israel has been diminished (Rom. 11:12) and exists today in spiritual blindness (Rom. 11:25). As such, Daniel’s seventieth week is currently on hold until “he who now letteth … be taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:7) which will occur when “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) and “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) begins.
  9. 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 year Millennial Kingdom in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 7:8-16; Ezek. 34:11-31; Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11-20:7).
  10. With Israel’s Covenants fulfilled concerning the Kingdom – and bear in mind they MUST BE – eternity will begin.

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

It’s important, therefore, that we understand God’s purpose for earth – revealed thoroughly in prophecy – is a kingdom in Israel. “All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints [Jews] shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. (Psalms 145:10-13 – my comment in brackets).

Prophecy for Earth ——————->Kingdom in Israel

Time past Ages to come
Genesis – John Hebrews – Revelation
1st Coming of Christ to Israel 2nd Coming of Christ to Israel
King and Kingdom rejected King and Kingdom received

Prophecy tells us the glorious appearance of the Messiah to earth[3] to establish Israel’s kingdom under the lineage of David in the city of Jerusalem (Isa. 24:23; Mic. 4:7) is often the subject.

The inauguration of Israel’s Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:8-16) has been in the works for thousands of years. The Lord Jesus revealed that it will commence following what’s termed “the sheep and goat judgment”: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). Therefore, when studying the Kingdom, keep in mind the following factors revealed by God through the prophets:

It is for Israel that the earthly kingdom was “prepared from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34) and through whom the Messiah was born and to whom He was presented, rejected, and yet one day will return to fulfill the Lord Jesus’s prophetic prayer, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth…” (Matt. 6:10). It is to Israel the Lord Jesus explained this Davidic Covenant Kingdom will be inaugurated following His visible Revelation in Jerusalem (Matt. 24; see Zech. 14; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-21) “immediately after the Tribulation” (Matt. 24:21, 29). [4] It is Israel to whom God’s prophets presented five covenants [5] guiding and guaranteeing her future on earth, including a lineage, land, laws, and a Lord – King – that began with the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18) and will continue through the Millennium.

First, God chose to bless Abraham and His family [nation of Israel, Jews] as the source of blessing: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed[6] (Genesis 12:2-3).

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

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

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

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

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

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

In our next section, we’ll learn that Israel’s Kingdom is earth’s destiny and five unilateral Covenants guarantee this by leading Israel from her calling to the Kingdom.

[1] 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.

[2] The phrase “kingdom of heaven” – which is a term used for the earthly Davidic Kingdom – is used exclusively by the Lord Jesus 33 times in the Book of Matthew; the Gospel proving to Israel that Jesus was her Messiah and the Kingdom (of heaven) was at hand (Matt 4:17).

[3] Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:1-4; compare Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-21.

[4]It’s important to know that the tribulation constitutes an unprecedented period of punishment, and purification of Israel (Isa. 2:19-21; Isa. 13, see v13; Isa. 13; 24; Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7; 12:1; Joel 2; Zephaniah, see 1:15); Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19) in preparation of the establishment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Rev. 20) in Jerusalem following the Revelation of Jesus Christ predicted for Israel in time past (Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; Rev. 19:11-21) to occur in the ages to come. The tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ, aka the church.

[5] The 5 Covenants God made with Israel unilaterally are as follows:   1. Abrahamic Covenant  (God called a family He could bless and that would be a blessing), 2. Mosaic Covenant  (God formed a nation with Laws), 3. Land (Palestinian) Covenant  (God gave Abraham the land and promised Israel would possess it), 4. Davidic Covenant  (God promised the nation a righteous King and an everlasting Kingdom), and the5. New Covenant  (God promised a better covenant established on better promises resting on an accomplished redemption securing the perpetuity and future conversion of Israel).

[6] Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. That blessing refers to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Israel and Church Differences

February 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Excerpted from Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ – Dr. Mike Johnston

Israel is a physical nation existing from prophecy awaiting an earthly Kingdom. The church is a spiritual body existing as a mystery awaiting a heavenly inheritance not known by the prophets or discussed in prophecy. The two have both existed since the world began (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25), but that’s where most of the similarity ends.

The distinctiveness, therefore, between the earthly nation Israel and the heavenly Body of Christ is an inescapable fact reflected in the prophetic Covenant still in effect with Israel. Dr. CI Scofield’s insight is well worth restating here: “(Israel’s) history alone is told in Old Testament narrative and prophecy [which incidentally continues through the crucifixion]; other nations are mentioned only as they touch the Jew [really consider this last statement because in it is the key unlocking this entire book]. It appears, also, that all the communications of Jehovah to Israel as a nation relate to the Earth. [1]

Notwithstanding, co-mingling God’s program for Israel with His program for the church Body is the “ploy du jour” among PreTrib antagonists often claiming they believe in a clear distinction while spinning unsupportable yarns inserting the church into “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7)  – aka Tribulation – where she can’t be seen and she doesn’t belong. Rightly dividing the word of truth between Israel and the Body of Christ helps clarify the reason the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s Tribulation.

Scripture clearly teaches Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same. Every effort to diminish their distinction is a dubious distortion. It’s no secret that Satan hates God’s elect Israel for many reasons, not the least of which is the Lord Jesus Christ – God the Father’s Preeminent offspring – God the Son – from the tribe of Judah and royal seed of David who will one day rule the world from Jerusalem. In the wake of Lucifer’s contempt, he has inspired haughty [2] heretical Bible teachers to make unfounded claims –originating in the first centuries of church history – that the Body of Christ is the new Israel – aka Replacement Theology. It’s as if Satan opined after many unsuccessful attempts to annihilate Israel, “Ok, fine. If I can’t personally destroy these Jews, I’ll marginalize and malign them with a mass misinformation campaign led by a cabal of otherwise respected men teaching that the church has replaced them.”

To further help us understand why the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s Tribulation – let’s get back to the premise underlying the truths in this entire treatise: Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same and neither is God’s plan for them.

I reiterate; the church is not the new Israel. [3] Her future is not on earth and she is not looking for – nor does she require – Israel’s judgment and punishment [4] (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) and purification God is going to mete out to Israel and the world during the “Tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29). [5] In fact, her inheritance (Eph. 1:11) has nothing to do with the earth. She is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), spiritually seated in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). Her “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) is Christ  and His imminent return in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18) to deliver her from Israel’s Tribulation wrath [6] to come (1 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 3:10) by escorting her back to His heavenly home according to His immutable promise (John 14:2-3). [7]

 

The Distinctives of the Pauline Body

I like what Miles Stanford wrote regarding the Body of Christ as revealed in Pauline Dispensationalism: We hold to the following indispensable tenets regarding the Church–the Body of Christ:

First and foremost, “Classic Pauline Dispensationalism is based upon the division of LIFE, not simply that of economies.  Once that total separation of the two seminal lives [First and Last Adam] is seen and maintained, the economies will never coalesce.”  The quintessence of the rightly divided Word is the doctrine of the two Adams!

“The Church (Body of Christ) was neither prophesied nor revealed in OT Scriptures.”  The Church is a heavenly entity.  The Church is not, as per covenant theory, the fulfillment of the promised blessings to Gentiles according to the Abrahamic Covenant.  Further, the Church is not the recipient of blessing formerly promised to the nation of Israel nor of any “spiritual blessings” from Israel’s New Covenant.  God made no covenant with the heavenly Church.  The Body of Christ is unique.

“The Church was a complete mystery until revealed doctrinally by Paul.”  It is the Body of Christ and her uniqueness that is the central mystery, not the principles of grace or faith.  There is one Body of Christ, whose advent was on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts Chapter 2.  The Church (Body of Christ) did not begin with the Apostle Paul, but rather his ministry was one of unfolding the truths associated with that one Body.

“Paul, in the Church Epistles, was the minister of Church truth.”  “Those who do not center in the truths which the ascended Lord communicated directly to this Apostle will not know who and where they are in Christ, nor what their part is in the purpose of God.  Neither will they know their heavenly privileges and responsibilities. Those who are ignorant of, and not centered in, the Pauline Gospel as set forth exclusively in Paul’s epistles, are constantly astray in their interpretation of the Gospel, to say nothing of Church truth.

“…for a dispensationalist it is best not to refer to the difference between the Old Testament (books) and New Testament (books), as such.  Much of the NT (Synoptic Gospels) is OT (related to Israel and her covenants): all is OT to Matthew 27, Mark 15, and Luke 23.  Church (Body) truth, the new, is totally different from Judaistic truth, the old; and it was not fully revealed until after the Cross, via Paul.”

“The thirteen epistles of Paul (Romans to Philemon) form a distinct body of truth; and this realm of truth is about us, the Church, the Body of Christ, as no other Scriptures are.  And Paul is the Father’s special messenger to us.  As has been truly said, ‘All of the Bible is for us, but it is not all about us.’”[8]

Before we advance in our study, may I ask if you are sure you know Christ as your Saviour and Lord? If not, ask Him into your life today.

Conflating Israel with the Church to marginalize the distinction

While conflating Scripture for Israel and the Body of Christ is confusing, it isn’t new especially as it relates to placing the church Body into Israel’s Tribulation where she can’t be seen and doesn’t belong.

This ruse originated almost two thousand years ago when a frightening letter arrived in Thessalonica  [9] signed by someone pretending to be the apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:1-2). Although he had carefully and systematically expounded Israel’s day of the Lord[10] and the assurance of a PreTrib rapture to this church (1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:9; see 2 Thess. 2:5), this latest epistle implied Paul had apparently been deceived by divine revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:11-12) and changed his mind. According to the letter, he evidently now believed Israel’s Tribulation beginning with the day of Christ was at hand and that all Christians were going to have to endure it.

When you discern the divine distinctions between Israel (prominent on earth), Gentiles, Church (subordinate) hinges on the prophets, you possess one of the keys for rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). The prophets were clear as they spoke Kingdom related messages to Israel (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21). These men never knew about the church Body, never spoke about us, and certainly never placed us into Israel’s Tribulation – which originated from prophecy and exists in the prophecy program for Israel – for a single moment. They knew this epoch has been reserved for currently unsaved Israel and anti-Semitic nations of the world.

In brief, while many PreTrib rapture combatants glibly request a single verse promising the Body of Christ an escape from Israel’s Tribulation – and I’ve provided many in this treatise – I in turn have asked these men to produce a single Scripture clearly placing the Body of Christ in Israel’s Tribulation without redefining the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which in context identifies Israel.

None have because none can!

[1] This includes the future Tribulation judgment as Isaiah reveals: The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. (Isaiah 24:19-21)

[2] Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (Romans 11:18)

[3] Replacement theology is a rank heresy Jesus said originated in the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9; 3:9).

[4] 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).

[5] Also called “Jacob’s (aka Israel’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7), “the time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1), “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10) as well as a few other names.

[6] This coming wrath is described fully in Rev. 6-19).

[7] We refer to this as the Rapture of the church.

[8] Copied from http://withchrist.org/pauldisp.htm

[9] Such was the case in Thessalonica where teachers pretending to be Paul sent letters claiming he’d changed his position and that the church was going through the tribulation (Second Thessalonians).

[10] The day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Joel 1:15, 2:1; etc); a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1); and the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21-29). Bear in mind, the tribulation is part of the day of the Lord; a Jewish phrase used by at least nine Jewish prophets that centers on earth and concerns Israel, not the church (see Zech 12-14; Matthew 24; Revelation 6-19), where the focus is Jerusalem, and the abomination of desolation in the Temple (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

The Right Division between Two Gospels: Kingdom (circumcision) and Grace (uncircumcision)

February 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

If you’re ever itching for a fistfight with a carnal Christian, tell him that the gospel of grace he preaches in this but now dispensation (Rom. 15:1-4) is NOT the gospel of the kingdom John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and the apostles preached (Matt. 4:23; 10:7).

In his superb book “Why So Many Churches”, Dr. Noah Hutchings, one of my favorite Bible teachers, writes, “It is important for Christians to understand … Paul and Peter did not preach the same message. They preached the same Christ, but not the same gospel.” (Why So Many Churches, 1992). You will understand this shortly when I unfold it.

The word gospel means “a good message” (Strong). The fact is, there are several of them listed in the Bible [1] that God dispensed through history. Two primary Gospel messages exist within the harmonious framework of the entire time triad spectrum.

  • Time past: Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel (Matt. 4:23; 9:35) Ended sometime after Paul’s conversion in mid Acts and the revelation of the mystery he received from Jesus (Rom. 16:25).
  • But now: Gospel of the Grace of God to Jews and Gentiles alike. Ends when the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25)
  • Ages to come: gospel of the Kingdom to Israel. Daniel’s prophecy calendar resumes at the 70th week of seven years known as Israel’s Tribulation or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15).

1. The Gospel of the Kingdom during the Prophecy Program – to Israel in “time past”:

The gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35) – is also called “the gospel of the circumcision” (Ga. 2:7-9) that Peter preached. It is good news to the Jews which Christ preached “in time past” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35) connecting Israel to the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18)[2] including circumcision (Gen. 17; Gal. 2:7) by offering to confirm the Davidic Covenant by inaugurating the earthly Kingdom promised to the seed of David (2 Sam. 7:8-16). [3]

Once again, keep in mind this gospel of the kingdom is NOT the gospel preached by Paul, nor is it the gospel we preach in this dispensation. Ours is the gospel of the grace of God, but only provisionally until the church is removed at the rapture.

2. The Gospel of the grace of God during the Mystery Program – to us in the “but now”:

The gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) – is also called “the gospel of the uncircumcision” (Gal. 2:7-9)  which is good news for Jews and Gentiles who come to Christ by faith and are saved, justified, sanctified, glorified, and spiritually baptized into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) where we are seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6) and sealed forever (Eph. 1:13-14) apart from anything other than faith in Christ’s shed blood which permanently removes our sin from us. By Paul’s own words this was a “but now” gospel unique for the uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7), never before preached or taught:

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). [4]

This is the only gospel of salvation (Eph. 1:13; see 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Gal. 1:6) for this dispensation. [5]It will continue, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) in the latter days before Israel’s Tribulation.

3. The Gospel of the Kingdom during the Prophecy Program – to Israel in the “ages to come”:

Following at some point in the “ages to come” after the mystery church has disappeared in the mystery rapture, one of the chosen angels of God will seal 144,000 Jewish servants of God as Tribulation evangelists (Rev. 7:2-8) preaching once again this gospel of the kingdom [6] heralding the Lord’s return to inaugurate His Davidic Kingdom in Jerusalem (Matt. 24:14).

In summary, God’s program for Israel and the church are as different as the time period they occupy and the gospel message assigned each of them to preach during that time.

[1] Salvation in God’s economy has always involved faith and grace that He dispensed separately to particular individuals at any given time. For instance, Adam and Eve never heard the Name Jesus Christ, but God pictured His sacrifice by shedding the blood of innocent animals to cover their sin (Gen. 3:21). They apparently demonstrated their faith the moment they put on this new clothing.

[2] The Abrahamic Covenant is an everlasting covenant (Gen. 17:13, 19). O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: (Psalms 105:6-11)

[3] God made 5 unilateral Covenants with Israel and none with the Body of Christ. Bear in mind our time past status: “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise …” (Ephesians 2:12).

[4] Dr. William MacDonald observes that this “is the thrilling message of God’s undeserved favor to guilty, ungodly sinners who deserve nothing but everlasting hell. It tells how the Son of God’s love came from heaven’s highest glory to suffer, bleed, and die on Calvary in order that those who believe on Him might receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, 1995)

[5] This includes the gospel of uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7), which is good news for Gentiles as Paul explains, “Ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:11-13). [No Covenant, Dispensation of Grace]

[6] This includes the gospel of circumcision (Gal. 2:7), which is good news for the Jews preached “in time past” linking them to the Abrahamic Covenant, the foundational contract for Israel’s relationship with God. It formed the groundwork for the promises that would be revealed in the other covenants. The Lord Jesus Christ, James, Peter (Cephas) and John were all ministers of the circumcision (Rom. 15:8; Gal. 2:7-9). [Old Covenant, Dispensation of the Law]

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