The Tribulation is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble.” This prophet, in chapters 30 and 31,1)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah%2030-31&version=KJV summarizes Israel’s endurance in the Tribulation Hour and depicts it as Jacob’s, or Israel’s, trouble. (Jacob’s name was changed to Israel in 2 Kings 17:34.) In Ezekiel chapters 38 and 392)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2038-39&version=KJV the northern army or Russian bear comes out of the north against Israel. Eighteen different passages mark Israel as the victim. Ezekiel says, “And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel” (Ezekiel 38:16).
Daniel described this horrible period of Tribulation: “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered” (12:1).3)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%2012:1&version=KJV Daniel’s seventy weeks, of which the Tribulation period is the closing segment, has to do with Israel: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).
The sixty-nine weeks totaling 483 years-already past-had to do with Israel.
Why would God change His method of operation for the seventieth week-the Tribulation Hour?
The simple conclusion is that there will be no change.
God will return to His original program for the final week.
This is again the reason that Satan, upon being cast to earth during the Tribulation Hour, goes after the woman (Israel) who brought forth the man-child (Christ) in Revelation 12:12-14. The voice out of heaven cries: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child [Christ]. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.“
Here we see God’s loving protection for His covenant people for a time-one year, and times-two years, and for half a time or one-half year. This totals three and one-half years or forty-two months-exactly one-half of the Tribulation period. Verse 174)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%2012:17&version=NKJV farther corroborates the fact that Israel is the persecuted one, not the Church, for “the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [Israelites].”
Only antiliteralists and antidispensationalists confuse the issue.
They allegorize, spiritualize, and pulverize the truth into mass confusion. They make Jews of all the redeemed or relegate the title of “Israelites” to Americans, Canadians, and other Anglo-Saxons. Little do they realize that there can be no harmony of the Scriptures when one does not rightly divide the word of truth (see 2 Timothy 2:15).
It is that God has two elect groups of individuals on this earth-Israel and the Church. Israel is the wife of Jehovah forever (Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:19).
The Church is the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7).
Romans 9 through 115)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%209-11&version=NKJV depict Israel’s past (chapter 9),6)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%209&version=NKJV Israel’s present (chapter 10),7)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2010&version=NKJV and Israel’s future (chapter 11).8)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2011&version=NKJV
During the Tribulation Hour, all Israel shall be saved see Romans 11:26.
The 144,000 Jewish evangelists (see Revelation 7:4-8) will proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to all the world (Matthew 24:14), and all Israel will accept Messiah (Christ) as Savior and King. Now these Israelites are the elect: “As touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28). This solves the problem of Matthew 24:22, which states, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake [Israelites] those days shall be shortened.“
Posttribulationists vehemently cry:
“You see, the elect are present for the judgments of the Tribulation Hour.“
The fact is that Jehovah chose or elected Israel to be His wife, and Christ chose or elected His people to be His bride, and it is the Father’s elect wife experiencing the judgments mentioned in Revelation chapters 6-18.9)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%206-18&version=NKJV
Concerning Israel, Deuteronomy 7:6 declares, “For thou art an holy people unto the lord thy God: the lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” This promise is perpetual. “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [or change of mind]” (Romans 11:29). This is the reason that all Israel is going to be saved (v. 26).10)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2011:26&version=NKJV God keeps His covenants (v. 27),11)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2011:27&version=NKJV and Israelites are still the Father’s “election” (see v. 28).12)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2011:28&version=NKJV
To the Christians, Christ says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). We were chosen “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), and our choosing is eternal. Now there is no difficulty whatsoever when men see both elections, but confusion reigns when the two are intermingled, spiritualized, allegorized, and symbolized.
Take God for what He states-literally-and the problems vanish.
Deliverance from wrath (Luke 17:26-32).
The reason this hope is blessed or happy is that the Church escapes the turmoil of earth’s most devastating hour. This fact is confirmed by the teaching of Jesus. He said that the days of the Son of man would be like the days of Noah and Lot (see Luke 17:26-32). In Noah’s day, Enoch, a type of the Church, was evacuated before the judgment of the Flood, while Noah, a type of Israel, was preserved through it. Lot, in his removal to Zoar before the fires fell, is also a type of the escaping Church before atomic incineration begins.
Upon examining the story of Lot in Genesis 18:23-32, we discover that God informed Abraham that He would destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham immediately began bargaining with the Lord: “Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:23-25).
Abraham finally got the figure down to ten righteous people, but there were not even ten who were undefiled.
Therefore, God had to destroy the cities. Lot and his family, however; survived because God had another plan-the great escape. The angels removed Lot and his family from the city and took them to Zoar. Now listen to this surprising statement from God in Genesis 19:22: “I cannot do any thing till [Lot] be come thither.” God had to remove His people before He rained judgment upon the world of the ungodly. Then, and only then, did the Lord rain “upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground” (Genesis 19:24-25).
As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the day of the Son of man, or when the Son of man returns. Whether it is the great escape for the Church or the preservation of the Israelites through the Tribulation, God’s promises cannot fail.
The day of great wrath (see Revelation 6:17) will be meted out to sinners who store up, treasure up, or accumulate “wrath against the day of wrath” (Romans 2:5). But this wrath will be only for the wicked. Paul wrote, “[God] delivered us [Christians] from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10), and again: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
This salvation from wrath cannot be the eternal deliverance from hell because the Christian already has that without Christ’s return. The moment a person believes, he is delivered from condemnation and “is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Because of it, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The deliverance from wrath in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 has to do with Christ’s return because the text states, “[We] wait for his Son from heaven… which delivered us from the wrath to come.” It does not take the return of Christ to deliver us from the wrath of hell-salvation instantaneously accomplished this. But the coming of Christ delivers us from the wrath of the coming Tribulation Hour. This is how God will “keep [us] from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world” (Revelation 3:10).
The Church-the body and the bride (Ephesians 5:30).
Now let’s look at Christ’s church-His body and His bride. Will the Church go through the administration of God’s wrath upon the earth? I believe not. Millions of believers are already in heaven. All who have died “in Christ” during the past two thousand years are already with Christ. Paul said, “To be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Why should a handful of believers experience God’s wrath while millions who lived and died during the last two thousand years enjoy the blessings of heaven during the Tribulation?
For God to have 99 percent of His church with Him while 1 percent suffer untold agonies would be inconsistent.
Since the Greek word ecclesia, translated “church” in English, means “a called out assembly,” could not this definition extend to the very hour when the final “called out assembly” meets the other 99 percent of the Church already in glory?
Why should a minority suffer God’s vengeance while the others watch from heavenly places?
We are also members of Christ’s body. “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 5:30).
Should 99 percent of His body in heaven rejoice while the remaining 1 percent upon earth suffer?
Perish the thought. In fact, since Christ is the head of the Body, He would actually be administering wrath to His own body if He left part of that body on earth for the Tribulation period. Believers are also Christ’s bride.
Should 1 percent of the believers (constituting the Bride) languish in anguish while 99 percent abide at His side?
Let’s be consistent in our thinking! Love demands that all the remaining 1 percent join the 99 percent already in His presence, completing the Church, the Body, and the Bride. This same Church, Body, and Bride must go through a time of examination called the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Bride also experiences the marriage supper of the Lamb before returning with Christ to the earth.
The posttribulation adherents teach a ” yo-yo theory“-up and down, going to meet Christ and returning instantly-and have no time interval for this judgment-seat examination or the marriage. It takes time to investigate God’s people. 2 Corinthians 5:10 states, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body.” This is an impossibility in the posttribulation arrangement of events because millions cannot be investigated in less than one second or “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). The “bob up to meet Him and bob down to reign” theory, if true, wipes out the intervals of time demanded for the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage.
I believe it is logically and abundantly clear that there will be a Rapture and that it must come before the Tribulation period. Common sense demands it; confusion reigns without it. Soon the Lord will break through the clouds. His church, body, and bride will be united with members already in His presence, for “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Then all the Church is investigated and prepared “as a chaste virgin to Christ ” (2 Corinthians 11:2) to enjoy the marriage supper and honeymoon.
The Most Powerful Argument for a Pretribulation Rapture
The final and greatest argument for a pretribulation Rapture is based on Matthew 25:31-46. In this text Christ returns to earth and judges the nations. At this point of time there are two groups present-the saved and the lost. The lost are condemned to everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:41, 46), whereas the saved are invited to enter the kingdom for the thousand-year reign with Christ (Matthew 25:34; Revelation 20:4).
Now, supposing the Rapture occurred at this juncture as postmillennialists teach, who would then be left to reign with Christ upon earth?
At the Rapture believers receive glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2-3).
These bodies, as Christ returns to earth, remain in the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, hovering above the earth for the entire one thousand years (Revelation 21:9-22:5). That being the case, no one would be left to rule on earth if all the saved were raptured and translated, receiving their eternal spiritual bodies at the hour Christ returns to earth. In fact, there could be no Millennium if this theory were followed to its ultimate conclusion. I repeat-if posttribbers are correct, the saved are translated into spiritual bodies while the lost are sent into eternal punishment.
This leaves no one to rule and reign with Christ for the one thousand years.
On the other hand, if the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation period begins, the riddle is solved.
There will be multitudes, yes millions upon millions converted during earth’s most horrendous hour because this is the time when God’s spirit is poured out upon all flesh (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17), and the greatest revival in history occurs. Revelation 7:9 states: “A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” When asked who these tens of millions are, the answer is: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14).13)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%207:14&version=NKJV
These are the millions who go into the kingdom in earthly bodies for Christ’s millennial reign (Matthew 25:34; Revelation 20:4). This is the only position that makes sense and fits the situation of a coming Millennium composed of believers ruling and reigning with Christ in earthly bodies.
MID TRIBULATION VIEW
According to this view, Christian’s would pass through the first half of the Tribulation but be raptured at the seventh trumpet judgment. This position, however, does not hold up since it ignores the biblical teaching of imminence-a view that asserts the return of Christ will occur unannounced, at any given moment. This theory is so unpopular today that little space is needed to cover the subject-just enough to describe the viewpoint.
POST TRIBULATION VIEW
This view does not look for Christ to come for His own until after the Tribulation. According to this theory, the Church should not be looking for the blessed hope of the return of Christ, but rather to the appearance of the Antichrist and the indescribable judgments and horrors of the Tribulation period.
Surely no reasonable, rational thinker will disagree with the facts presented thus far concerning the pretribulation Rapture.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
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