Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why God's Purpose for the Tribulation excludes the Church

This article is worth repeating. Thomas Ice has put together yet another argument (among the many) which strongly points to a pre-tribulation Rapture. Here it is, and it is most definitely worth reading:

As found on Rapture Ready: "Why God's Purpose for the Tribulation excludes the Church"

And here is the Thomas Ice Collection - well worth bookmarking: The Thomas Ice Collection"

Why God's Purpose for the Tribulation excludes the Church

by Thomas Ice

"And the LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today."
-Deuteronomy 30:7-8

God's purpose for the tribulation (i.e., the seven-year, 70th week of Daniel) revolves around His plan for Israel and does not include a earthly presence for the church. Why? Because God's plan for Israel is unfinished at this point in history. When the role of the church is completed she will be taken as a completed body to heaven in an instant-at the rapture. This will clear the way for a restoration and resumption of progress toward the completion of our Sovereign Lord's plans for His elect nation-Israel.

The Tribulation Focuses on Israel
The Bible teaches that the tribulation is a time of preparation for Israel's restoration and conversion (Deut. 4:29-30; Jer. 30:3-11; Zech. 12:10).1 While the church will experience tribulation in general during this present age (John 15:18-25; 16:33; 2 Tim. 3:10-13), she is never mentioned as participating in Israel's time of trouble, which includes the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, and the Wrath of God. Gerald Stanton explains:

The Tribulation does not deal with the Church at all, but with the purification of Israel. It is not the "time of the Church's trouble," but the "time of Jacob's trouble." The emphasis of the Tribulation is primarily Jewish. This fact is borne out by Old Testament Scriptures (Deut. 4: 30; Jer. 30: 7; Ezek. 20: 37; Dan. 12:1; Zech. 13:8-9), by the Olivet Discourse of Christ (Matt. 24:9-26), and by the book of Revelation itself (Rev. 7:4-8; 12:1-2; 17, etc.). It concerns "Daniel's people," the coming of "false Messiah," the preaching of the "gospel of the kingdom," flight on the "sabbath," the temple and the "holy place," the land of Judea, the city of Jerusalem, the twelve "tribes of the children of Israel," the "son of Moses," "signs" in the heavens, the "covenant" with the Beast, the "sanctuary," the "sacrifice and

the oblation" of the temple ritual. These all speak of Israel and clearly demonstrate that the Tribulation is largely a time when God deals with His ancient people prior to their entrance into the promised kingdom. The many Old Testament prophecies yet to be fulfilled for Israel further indicate a future time when God will deal with this nation (Deut. 30:1-6; Jer. 30:8-10, etc.).2

The Church is Absent from the Tribulation
Not one Old Testament passage on the tribulation refers to the church (Deut. 4:29-30; Jer. 30:4-11; Dan. 8:24-27; 12:1-2), nor does the New Testament ever speak of the church in relation to the tribulation (Matt. 13:30, 39-42, 48-50; 24:15-31; 1 Thess. 1:9-10, 5:4-9; 2 Thess. 2:1-11; Rev. 4-18), except as present in heaven. Such silence speaks loudly and supports the pre-trib position, especially when combined with clear, explicit statements that promise her exemption from that time (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10). Note the clear promise to the church of Revelation 3:10:

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.

If pretribulationism is indeed the teaching of Scripture, then we would expect that passages dealing with the tribulation would consistently make no mention of the church. This is exactly what we find. However, Israel is mentioned often throughout these texts. Dr. Robert Gromacki has studied the New Testament book of Revelation, chapters 4-19, which gives the most detailed overview of the seven-year tribulation in all the Bible. He has shown the following:

However, there is a strange silence of the term in chapters 4-19. That fact is especially noteworthy when you contrast that absence with its frequent presence in the first three chapters. One good reason for this phenomenon is the absence of the true church and true evangelical churches in the seven years preceding the Second Coming. The true believers of the church have gone into the presence of Christ in heaven before the onset of the events of the se

ven year period. The church is not mentioned during the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments because the church is not here during the outpouring of these judgments.3

Tribulation on a Christ-Rejecting World
Another purpose for the tribulation is that it is a time of God's wrath upon a Christ-rejecting world and a time of revenge for Gentile treatment of Israel.

Moreover, it is evident that the Tribulation also concerns God's judgment upon Christ-rejecting Gentile nations. Babylon, which "made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (Rev. 14:8), shall herself "be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her" (Rev. 18:8). The "cities of the nations" shall fall, after which Satan shall be bound "that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled" (Rev. 20:3). God's judgment falls likewise upon the individual wicked, the kings of the earth, the great, the rich, and the mighty, every bond man and every free man (Rev. 6:15-17). It falls upon all who blaspheme the name of God and repent not to give Him glory (Rev. 16:9). Wicked men, godless nations, suffering Israel--these may all be found in Revelation 6-18; but one looks in vain for the Church of Christ, which is His body, until he reaches the nineteenth chapter. There she is seen as the heavenly bride of Christ, and when He returns to earth to make His enemies His footstool, she is seen returning with Him (I Thess. 3: 13).4

Such a time of judgment does not require the church, who has not rejected Christ, to be present. With the church in heaven during the tribulation, it enables God's focus to be on Israel as His Divine instrument through which He acts. This program was predicted by the Lord before Joshua and Israel ever entered the Promised Land. Notice the predicted pattern:

1) then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. (Deut. 30:3)

2) And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall posses

s it . . . (Deut. 30:5a)

3) And the LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. (Deut. 30:7-8)

Zechariah speaks of the Lord's retribution upon the nations as a time when "the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem . . . in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem." (Zech. 12:8-9) Once again the focus is upon Israel, in this case Jerusalem, not the church.

The book of Revelation provides a graphic depiction of God's judgment upon an unbelieving world, often called "earth dwellers." As God prosecutes His judgment upon the "earth dwellers," John records periodic pauses by our Lord as He evaluates the response of mankind to His judgment before going onto the next phase. It is as if the Lord inflicts a series of judgments and then surveys the landscape to see if, like Ninevah in the days of Jonah, there is repentance so that He can suspend prosecution of the war. Un like Ninevah in the days of Jonah, the "earth dwellers" do not relent in the wake of "the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:16), so our Lord proceeds to the next phase of His battle. Every step of the way, the "earth dwellers" would "not repent of the works of their hands" (Rev. 9:20) Instead of worshipping Christ, "the earth and those who dwell in it . . . worship the first beast" (Rev. 13:12). Instead of repentance they "blasphemed God" (Rev. 16:21). Finally, "all the nations were deceived" (Rev. 18:23) resulting in the satanic notion that the armies of the world must march against Jerusalem-God's city-and Israel-His people. This results in the basis for the second coming of Christ, which is to resue Israel from the world's armies who are striking out at God by invading His people. Such a scenario does not demand or require the church and so she will not be there. We can see that the purpose of the tribulation revovles around God's plan for Israel, not the church.

Only pretribulationism is able to give full import to tribulation terms like "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7), as a passage specifically stating that the tribulation is for Jacob (i.e., Israel). John Walvoord concludes,

Never are tribulation saints given the special and perculiar promises given to the church in the present age. The nature of the church in contrast to Israel therefore becomes an argument supporting the pretribulation viewpoint.5

Since God's purpose for the tribulation is to restore Israel (Jer. 30:3, 10) and judge the Gentiles (Jer. 30:11), it is clear that this purpose does not include the church. This is one of the reasons why she will be taken to heaven before this time. The church's hope is a heavenly one, not participation in the culmination and restoration of God's plan for His earthly people-Israel. Maranatha! W

1 These arguments are adopted from John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), pp. 270-71.

2 Gerald B. Stanton, Kept From The Hour: Biblical Evidence for the Pretribulational Return of Christ, 4th edition (Miami Springs, FL: Schoettle Publishing Company, 1991), pp. 35-36.

3 Robert Gromacki, "Where is 'The Church' in Revelation 4-19?" in Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, editors When The Trumpet Sounds (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1995), p. 355.

4 Stanton, Ibid., p. 36.

5 Walvoord, Ibid., p. 65.


hartdawg said...

i`d like your opinion on something: just straight up, do you personally believe if a person heard, understood and rejected the gospel before the rapture he`ll have no further oppertunity?

Expected Imminently said...

Hello Scott

As you know, I don't need ANY convincing. Paul and the Thessalonians (at least) were expecting an imminent return of Jesus, and that is not the 2nd Coming during the 'Day of the Lord'.

What I have learned is that Post Tribulationism is based upon Covenant Theology's spiritualising method of interpretation.

There is Pre,Post and Amillennium and the one thing that links them all is the belief that Israel is the Church in the Old Testament and The Church is Israel in the New Testament. To them, they are one and the same all because the Septuagint uses ekklesia meaning ‘a gathering’. So they suppose the ekklesia (church) is also in the Old Testament.

They see the word ‘elect’ in Revelation and suppose this also refers to the Church as well as Israel because they are – to them – one and the same. They are also claiming to be Jews through Abraham and the Church is ‘spiritual Israel’ NOT. Revelation has serious information for those who say they are Jews but aren’t!

Rev.2:9 I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Rev,3:9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.

They do not seem able to accept that THE Church began in Acts 2 when The Holy Spirit baptised each believer (Jew and Gentile) INTO the Body of Christ and dwelt within each believer. Unlike the Old Testament when He came upon only a few for ministry.

Imo; Bible teachers need to address this important issue EVERY time when supporting the Pretrib Rapture of the Church. Otherwise the result is endless circular reasoning trying to explain the facts of Scripture.

That’s off my chest so I can go to bed now.
God bless

Scott said...


I am 99.99999% convinced that yes - they will
all - have the opportunity to receive Christ during the Trib.

The Apostle John saw the souls of many who had come to Christ and then been martyred during the Trib.

Plus, that is the purpose of the two witnesses, and the 120000 jews etc..To witness to the entire world (not just the Nation of Israel). Thats another reason.

What do u think?

Scott said...

I agree. By not understanding dispensations appropriately, one can never have a full grasp of prophecy.

In fact, in the series I recently did, I REALLY wanted to explain dispensations, which would then allow me to have gone into depth on Daniel 9, which defines that the 490 year period was exclusively reserved for the Nation of Israel (Daniel was specifically told this).

And in that context, the Church wasn't here for the Nation of Israel's first 483 years, thus, it makes no sense that the Church would be here for the last 7 years. These are separate dispensations.

In fact. I also think its <> that Rev 25; the last part defines those who may be acceptable to enter the 1000 year reign. But thats another story. We always have to remember that the last 7 year period is a separate dispensation from the Church Age, and the two do NOT overlap.

Not understanding this basic concept makes it a difficult to fully comprehend the pre-trib rapture.

hartdawg said...

i`m more like 50/50 2nd thess chapter 2 makes a good case against it. "for this cause God will send a strong delusion so that they may ALL believe a lie cause they did not love the truth but delighted in wickedness" its believed by a lot of great scholars that those who knowingly rejected the gospel will not be part of the multitude no man can number

hartdawg said...

tho i think its possible a VERY STRONG case can be made both ways. concerning the rapture, i was able to convince a nondispensationalist there was a pre-trib rapture by simply reading scripture. i read (1 thess 1:10, 5:9, rev 3:10 and luke 21:?) i then mentioned john 14:1-3 " i`m going THERE (Meaning heaven)....will come again to TAKE you (at the 2nd coming we stay)

hartdawg said...

i also made this comparison: in 1 thess 4 the dead rise 1st then we meet them in the air...in rev 20:4 jesus returns, defeats anti-christ, binds satan THEN the souls of those martyred come to life. 1st of all where are the rest of those in christ? 2nd for the post_trib to be correct jesus returns, defeats satan, defeats anti-christ then they all jump in the air, then we also jump in the air... no sense. you dont need to be a dispensationalist to see the contradictions.

hartdawg said...

...another point i made is the church in heaven before the trib. the 24 elders IS the church cuase 1)theyre wearing crowns (promised to the church) meaning the bema seat of christ had taken place and 2) rev 5:9 "you have redeemed US and made US to be kings and priests to god" several passages say of the church they are kings and priests. also he redeemed the church. the elders can ONLY be the church.

hartdawg said...

newer versions say have redeemed THEM and made THEM to be...but the manuscripts use the word hayseed meaning US, Ourselves or we. the word for THEM is dia meaning the or themselves. i also mentioned colossians 3:4 "when he appears you will appear with him in glory" we cant "appear with him" if we`re here. i could go on and on and on... (and i did with my nondispesation friend)

Expected Imminently said...

Good show! Your friend obviously was not afraid of common sense, good for him.

However - folk like Mitchell (remember him?) do a job on common sense and claim all sorts for the 'original Greek' to try and prove Israel and the Church are one and the same.

To folk who are neutral, it must be jolly confusing, so if a teacher makes a strong point in their article about using a normal/literal interpretation not allegory, it would go half way at least in curbing this false teaching. imo

The late Chafer of Dallas Theo. Sem; wrote a very strong warning to dispensational churches. He told how C.T. was infiltrating Dispy churches, and would bring in the very confusion that has indeed happened.

Dispy's MUST take it seriously and make a clear stand on correct interpretation to counteract the muddle. imo
God bless

Scott said...


I agree about the 24 elders - they can ONLY represent the Church for the reasons stated.
Don't forget, just after John ascended (rev. 4:1). he also saw the seven burning candles which also represents the Church.

I also agree that one can make the case for a pre-trib rapture w/o a deep discussion of dispensations, (and that is what I usually do) - but you get the full picture with an understanding of dispensations.

God Bless

hartdawg said...

oh yes. absolutely.