The Flight of the Jews

I don’t know if my generation will be the ones who enter into Daniel’s 70th week. It is very hard to believe that I won’t see that in my life time but that’s not up to me. I specifically remember hearing some discussions about in the time of Jacob’s trouble the believers having a role to play. And that role being helping out Jews that are inflight or fleeing. When I first heard that it felt like it sent shock waves through my spirit (in a good way). Would you mind to comment on your thoughts on this and what could that practically look like for a believer in the time of their great distress/tribulation, maybe even specifically for our situation in the US? (I very much love the testimony of the Ten Boom family and it seems like that may be a good picture of what it could be like).

Yes, the story of the Ten Boom family is no accident, nor is the carefully archived history of Nazi Europe. It was a divinely ordained pre-view of the mystery of lawlessness as it will be most fully embodied and revealed in the coming ‘man of lawlessness’. Along with all the general mayhem and lawlessness that will abound (is abounding!), international hatred of the Jew will once more, as never before, be front and center.

Knowing then what the scripture teaches concerning the coming flight of the woman, and the sure promise of divine provision for refuge and survival (Rev 12:6, 14), we ask, “Where is this place? and who are “they” who are appointed to “feed her there”? Will it be ravens, angels, or saints who have “foreseen the evil and hid themselves”? (Prov 22:3; 27:12).

This flight, we expect, will not only be out of Judea into the neighboring wilderness (Mt 24:15-16; for OT background compare Isa 16:1-5; 42:10-14; Dan 11:41 KJV), but from all the great population centers, as far as the long arm of the Antichrist will reach. Jews, with any who harbor them, will be the special target of Antichrist fury and pursuit. This is because Satan’s great dread is for the elect remnant to reach their destination of national salvation at the end of the tribulation. He knows so much better than the church that if the Word concerning Israel’s post-tribulational salvation can fail, so fails the Word of God that condemns him to the lake of fire.

The end that God has appointed is the ultimate, climatic convergence of all the great themes, principles and patterns of the past in final, open demonstration. For Israel, the church, and the world, it is the ultimate test on the widest possible scale.

You ask, “how I expect the believer’s relation to Jews in flight may look, especially in the US?” I suspect it will look very much like it did in the story of the Hiding Place. Yet, I would think it very unfortunate if great lessons are not taken. For example, on a visit to an Ann Franke exhibit, I made note of the great statistical disparity between the rate of Jewish survival within the population centers and those who managed to escape into the countryside. So there’s much practical wisdom that can be gleaned if even a relative certainty concerning the time could be known in advance, but that’s precisely the problem. I’ll come back to this.

Some years back I wrote an article that Art was very keen to post on our website at the time. It was entitled, “A Prophetic Call to Practical Preparation.” As evident in the Corrie Ten Boom story, the “Hiding Place”, there is a practical side to our faith that goes beyond all the inferences and speculations on many of the details that will always be debated. It centers on the substance and essence of what we really believe and expect and what our response should be.

Of course, as always, the only thing ultimately decisive is the issue of being “led by the Spirit”. This may be different in many particulars for different ones in different places, but with any divine trust of revealed truth there comes a corresponding responsibility. If God has spoken, if the lion has roared, if the trumpet has given a certain sound, who can justify the complacency of neglect that accompanies unbelief? The only ultimately decisive question is “has God really said?” All else is relative to that.

So before we can be concerned with what the church ‘should’ believe, our first responsibility is to what we have heard personally and understood for ourselves. The question is never ‘what shall this man do?”, but “you follow Me”.

If we know that the woman will be pursued into a prepared place of hiding, and if we believe this has a world wide application, it follows that the great witness to Israel and the world will be the expectancy and preparation of believers, as based on the sure word of prophecy, most particularly Jesus’ strategic directive in Mt 24:15, “let the reader understand” (Mt 24:15). The Lord expects us to go to Daniel, locate and ‘understand’ this event. By so directing, Jesus knows that we will find much more than this particular event. To understand the abomination of desolation is also to see what precedes and what follows this event, and therefore an entire context that centers around God’s special covenant with the Jews and the meaning of “those days” and the use of this knowledge to “instruct many” and “turn many to righteousness” (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10).

Never will there be a greater opportunity for believers to move Jews to emulation than by the practical provision made by the mouth of their own, rejected Joseph-Messiah. But as long as the wise virgins remain asleep, and as long as there remains great confusion as to the time and order of events that signal the time, it is as the scripture says, “if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to battle?” (ICor 14:8).

I would personally despair of hope of a mobilized army of prophetically prepared forerunners if I did not believe that God has, in unspeakable kindness and mercy, given us the first half of Daniel’s 70th week to awaken and prepare for the second half of the last seven years. The importance of this could hardly be too stressed.

Yet, not surprisingly, it is the most scorned and denied of all the competing interpretations among ‘futurists’ (those believing in a future tribulation). Not only does the battle rage over Daniel’s authenticity, but over its interpretation, and nowhere else is this more the case than in the question of whether a gap (hidden age) exists between the 69th and 70th weeks of Dan 9:24-27. But so much depends on this crucial knowledge that is key to the preparation of the remnant of the ‘maskilim’ (those having understanding) in those critical, ultimately transitional days.

If God has been so specific in the past (e.g., the 70 years of Jeremiah, the 70 weeks of Daniel, etc.), can it be that He has given His people sufficient sign posts, time markers to show the time that preparation of an unusual and urgent kind should be made? Some of us believe God has revealed (in a somewhat hidden way) a substantial and compelling case that the two days of Hos 6:2 represents the whole time of Jesus’ session at God’s right hand, from the time of Israel’s stumbling to the time of their return when they will enter upon the ‘third day’ as a raised and revived nation fulfilling their millennial destiny (Hos 5:15-6:2; Mic 5:1-4; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7)

The argumentation for this, not so well known or well agreed, is based on more solid and compelling evidence than many suspect, too much to go into here (see “Simple Layman: Teaching the Prophetic Time-line” on youtube). But if true, then God has indeed given something more definite as to the time than most have been led to believe possible, or even conceive as orthodox (“but of that day and hour …”).

Whether such a view can be vindicated remains to be seen. Still, it is something worth keeping an eye on, lest we hastily dismiss God’s provision for His people, but even more His own greater glory in so precisely and completely foretelling all things in advance (Mk 13:23). In any event, God has provided protection against the false alarms of prophetic speculation by a tightly connected constellation of events that will either confirm or deny the presumption that the end of the two days is very near. Yet, unless clarity comes as to the time (when it is time to know the time), it is unlikely that there will be any real, unified, mobilization of the church, even the true body, until very late at best.

The very great doctrinal divide, particularly in the chaos of eschatology, virtually ensures that the time will not only come upon the world as a thief, but many who profess Christ (contrast the two servants of Lk 12:42-48). Even the five wise virgins are depicted as also sleeping when the time arrives. But we may take hope that from some source that is not sleeping comes the midnight call, “Behold, the bridegroom comes! Go out to meet Him!”

There is one thing that greatly puzzles me. It is the fact that quite apart from anything very definite as to the time, I think of young king Josiah when he found the lost book of the law. He had no definite prophetic timeline, no books of Daniel or Revelation. It was enough that he read the proverbial writing on the wall in the threats of the broken covenant (Lev 26; Deut 28-32). This stirred him to sober trembling and repentance. He fled for refuge, not to the wilderness but to righteousness.

Yet, today, even if it were questioned whether we have entered upon the time of the preceding birth pangs. Even if we imagine the time when none may buy or sell might indeed be a good ways off. Still, what do the wise do when they foresee, not perhaps specifically defined prophetic time markers, but a culture and civilization teetering on the brink, under ominously looming judgment? “A prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself but the simple pass on and are punished” (Prov 22:3; 27:12).

Isn’t that enough to greatly question how far invested we have become in a highly integrated, highly interdependent world system under such manifestly looming judgment? (Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? Jeremiah 5:9, 29; 9:9). Isn’t that enough to think of practical measures of practical preparation, not as flight, but as wisdom for the sake of the vulnerable and the weak who may not be called to go into places of radical obedience ‘where angels fear to tread’?

The command to flee the proverbial ‘city of destruction’, as the symbolic city of man is first and foremost spiritual, of course, but there comes a time when it is unbelief and sin not to expect plague and curse and calamity when a nation’s cup of iniquity has reached its tilting point. So it is a question much to be considered among the brethren, how, and in what ways can practical measures be taken to provide for our own (Gal 6:10; 1Tim 5:8), and this includes the Lord’s brethren, the hated, hunted Jews of “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Mt 25:40 with Isa 26:16-17; 66:7; 30:6-7; Mic 5:3-4).

When it comes to the wisdom of practical preparation, not as means of escaping persecution, or anything God has ordained, such as the certainty of tribulation (Acts 14:22), of course, but as a practical corollary and witness to what is surely believed (“and being warned of God of things not seen as yet”), isn’t it enough to know the words of the Psalmist concerning the fate of any nation that forgets God? “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps 9:17).

Add these fundamental principles to the never before fulfilled prophecies that are so clearly before us and developing rapidly along an inexorable trajectory of utmost prophetic certainty, it is hard to see how we can continue as though “all things continue”. Is it not time to put feet to our faith and prepare now for the flight of the Jews and our own flight from foolish, excessive, and unnecessary dependency on the world’s system, as though only the last 3 ½ years is our only concern?

And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do … (1 Chron 12:32).

Whoever keeps the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knows not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? (Ecclesiastes 8:5-7)

These two things, time and judgment, are particularly hard to bring together. Even if the time is known, what if it is not known what should be done? And even if what should be done is agreed, is the time right?

Our prayer is for the raising up, not merely those who assume to know much about the time, whether general or specific, but those who can instruct and advise, not only in spiritual matters but of practical preparation. Paul says, “you have many teachers but not many fathers.” Where there is hardly, if any agreement concerning the time, or even the possibility of knowing anything at all about the time, there is not likely to be much clarity on what should be done of a practical nature. So until such agreement emerges, perhaps very late into the seven years, each one must answer that question for themselves. I believe we will look back and realize how much was indeed knowable except for our condition to know it.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie

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Questions on Revelation 3:10

Question 1

In vs. 10 Jesus states that He will keep them from the hour of temptation which will come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the Earth. My question is what is the hour of temptation?

Revelation 3:10
Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Seen best in light of:

Luke 21:34-35
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

And perhaps also:

Joel 3:14
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision:
for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

What is this hour, and what does it mean to be ‘kept from’ it?

The term hour in the NT is often used of an appointed time or a time that is in some way decisive (Mt 26:45; Jn 2:4; 4:23; 5:25; 12:23; 16:21; 17:1). In at least one instance in Rev 17:12, an hour is shown to cover the whole time that the ten kings give their strength and power to the beast. This would appear to include the entire 3 1/2 years of the unequaled tribulation. Elsewhere in the Revelation, the term carries a much more narrow usage, as in the case of great Babylon’s destruction. There, the hour describes the time of the 7th bowl of wrath, the very end of the end (Rev 16:17-18; 18:10, 17, 19). But in only one great and unequaled tribulation will the whole of the earth be so ultimately and finally tested.

In what sense is one to be ‘kept from’ the hour of testing? Some argue that here is promised, not only deliverance from what the hour threatens but physical removal from its very presence. Advocates of this view point out that the Greek words that are translated ‘kept from’ can as well be translated “kept out of”. However, we see the same words in John 17:15, and there the promise is not exemption from the presence of danger but protection from falling under the power of Satan.

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

How can we determine whether to be ‘kept from’ or ‘kept out of’ the hour is promise of physical immunity from the time of the final, great test, or divine preservation within it?

Before coming to the specifics of that question, it is well we remember that this promise was addressed particularly to the deeply tested church of Philadelphia. Even though the ultimate, age ending great tribulation would not come until a later time, the promise of divine preservation in the midst of great trial was no less serviceable and applicable to believers under severe testing all throughout the whole time of the church’s struggle on earth. So however “kept from the hour” is understood, its meaning and application cannot be limited only to the time of the last persecution under the last beast.

It is clear that escape and protection is promised to tribulation believers, not from persecution and suffering, of course, (Dan 7:21, 25; 11:33-35; 12:10; Rev 6:11; 13:7; 14:13; 20:4), but from demonic deception, and the plagues of divine wrath that will be inflicted ONLY on those who take the mark.

We see this in the pre-tribulational sealing of the 144,000 (Rev 7:3), and in the flight of the woman (Israel) to seek refuge in the wilderness (Rev 12:6, 14). Not only are believers protected from the evil one (Jn 17:15), but even unbelievers, particularly the elect remnant of Israel, are seen to survive to the day of national repentance at the Lord’s return (Ps 102:13; Isa 59:20-21; 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; Mt 24:22; Ro 11:26-27; Rev 1:7). Not only this, but the scripture makes equally clear that there will be gentile survivors who apparently were not saved in time for the rapture. These will join themselves to the penitent survivors of Israel and joyously assist in their return to the Land (see Zech 8:23; Isa 14:1-2; 49:22; 60:9; 66:20).

Such manifest survival, even by many who are not saved till the end, fully exposes the fallacy of the argument that in order for the church to escape wrath, she must be removed from the earth. There could hardly be a greater misuse and misapplication of the promise of 1Thes 5:9.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Interestingly, the words of the glorified Jesus in Rev 3:10 (red in some Bibles) are very nearly the same words He spoke on earth in Lk 21:34-35. This is remarkable proof that John is carefully writing the very words of Jesus that appear only here and in Luke’s account of the Olivet discourse. For me, such manifestly parallel usage is decisive for the interpretation of Rev 3:10.

When we closely examine the context of Luke’s account of Jesus’ parallel warning, we see that what is to be escaped by the wakeful, praying believer is not the time that these events will be happening, but the things (perils and pressures) that would threaten to subvert his or hers ability to “stand before the Son of man” (Lk 21:36). As the context makes indisputably clear, this time of ‘standing before the Son of man’ cannot refer to a presumed rapture before the tribulation but to Jesus’ post-tribulational return in power and glory (Lk 21:27 with Lk 21:36).

That ‘day’ comes suddenly, but not without warning. It will not come “unaware“, like a thief, upon wakeful and observant believers (Lk 21:34 with 1Thes 5:2-4) They will recognize the signs (Mt 24:3, 15; Lk 21:10-11, 20-21, 25-26; 1Thes 5:3; 2Thes 2:4). 

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near (Lk 21:28). So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near (Lk 21:31).

Jesus anticipates that the matter will be quite the opposite with some claiming the Christian faith.  

But if that servant says in his heart, “My Lord delays His coming”; and begins to beat the male and female servants, and eat and drink and be drunk, the lord that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when it is not aware, and will cut him asunder and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers (Lk 12:45-46). 

Note how nearly the language here compares with Luke’s account of the Olivet prophecy, 

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21:34-36), 

and also with Paul’s description of the day of the Lord in 1Thes 5:2-4.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.

In all of these references, we observe that the great scandal will be that many professing Christian faith will be caught unaware and unprepared, not for an imminent, un-signaled rapture of the church, but for the post-tribulational return of Christ.

Paul equates such ignorance with a state of spiritual darkness. Such darkness is fully expected of the world but not of believers. This is the scandal of the end times, and we see why.

It speaks of an unconscionable rejection of the truth, leaving one vulnerable to the great delusion that Paul says that God Himself will be obliged to send on all  who have not received the love of the truth. This will be particularly the case when it is seen just how much light professing Christendom will have rejected in the face of some of the most compelling evidence of fulfilled prophecy ever seen on earth since the time of Jesus. 

The scandal will not be that professing Christians were caught unprepared for a Lk any moment rapture. The far greater indictment will be that many who count themselves Christians will not be alerted by some of the most outstanding and clearly defined signs as laid down by the prophets, Jesus, and Paul.

This means that all of the fully foretold signs and otherwise recognizable evidence that the great tribulation is here, and the Lord’s return near, will have passed without awakening these professors of the Christian religion out of their spiritual stupor. 

This is not because there has been no signs. On the contrary, the scripture reads clear. These are professing Christians that will remain unmoved by the signs, even in their manifest presence. This is the great anomaly and scandal. It is the ultimate indictment on apostate Christendom. 

It is telling that as late as the 6th bowl, just before the final 7th bowl is poured out to bring the “great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:16-17), Jesus interjects to announce that His coming, now so truly imminent, will yet take many as a thief, even Christians with stained garments (Rev 16:15).

This tells us that despite all the magnificent, fully foretold sign events of the tribulation, Jesus’ return will not only overtake the world as a thief, but many who claim Jesus as their Lord. Context will not permit us the luxury of applying this to an earlier, secret, un-signaled return. It is manifestly Jesus’ post-tribulational return that is shown to take the hypocrites unaware, as a thief, and this despite all the highly detailed prophecies clearly marking the time and describing the meaning of these events. There is good reason why and how this will be so, but that discussion would take us too far from our topic to enter upon here. 

Many ask how can such thoroughly foretold events take the world, and particularly Christians unaware, as a thief? For this very cause, some have argued for the necessity of an earlier, un-signaled return that is to be distinguished from the well signaled return after the tribulation (Mt 24:15-31; 2Thes 2:3-4; Rev 6-19), hence the ‘inference’ of two distinct comings. But aren’t we seeing this now? Behold the confusion that reigns in the study of prophecy! How many optional interpretations of the end can there be?! One can only think of Daniel’s prophecy. “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” (Dan 12:10).

Those who “escape all these things” in order to be prepared to “stand before the Son of man” are the same wakeful believers who recognize the signs that are ‘beginning to come to pass.”

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near (Lk 21:28). 

That certain definite, alerting signs can be seen does not comport with pretribulationism’s doctrine of an unsignaled, any moment rapture. Yet the very believers who are commanded to pray to “escape all these things” are being told that they will see “these things begin to come to pass”. In keeping with Jesus’ warning elsewhere in the other synoptic accounts of the Olivet prophecy, with Paul’s warning warning in 1Thes 5:2-4; 2Thes 2:3-4, Peter’s warning (2Pet 3:10), and Jesus’ warning in Rev 16:15, the only ones who will be caught “unawares” are those who abide in darkness and fail to vigilantly watch for “all these things” that will signal the Lord’s now truly ‘imminent’ return. 

So what are the “all these things” that is being escaped in Lk 21:36? Is it the foreboding portents of terror?   

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Lk 21:25-26).

If that were so, we would not see the following encouragement. 

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” Lk 21:28). 

Rather, where the believer is concerned, it is the urgency to not fall prey to the great and unparalleled deception against which Jesus and Paul so gravely and repeatedly warn (Mt 24:4, 11, 24; 2Thes 2:3, 11). This is why I included Joel 3:14 as a possible reference to this “hour”. This is why there is such a great premium that must be placed on the interpretation of what these events mean that will be so decisive for the escape and salvation of many during the time of the great test (Dan 11:33). Therefore, the safe keeping that is promised cannot be immunity from persecution, but escape from the unequaled deception that will expose one to the wrath that will be poured out, not on believers, of course, but only upon the fatally deceived followers of the beast (Rev 11:18: 16:2, 10).

It is another discussion, too involved to enter upon here, but it can be shown exactly when Paul expected to be raised and translated at the resurrection on the last day. When this is proven beyond reasonable dispute, it becomes clear that however we understand “the hour” or the nature of what it means to be “kept from” it, one thing we know. It cannot mean an early exit, physical removal, or exemption from tribulation to which all saints are appointed (see Acts 14:22).

I tend to think the hour of Rev 3:10 includes more than the last hour of Babylon’s destruction, which is identified with the Lord’s thief-like return at the great day of God (2Pet 3:10-12; Rev 16:14-17; 18:10, 17, 19 with Eze 39:8). I believe it should be equated with the great tribulation of the final 3 1/2 years, and not just a final period of wrath at the very end, as some have argued. 

So in what sense are we kept from that hour? I think the promise is that the faithful will be kept from ‘the power of the hour’, which is to say, saved from the deception and the pressures to defect that will be extreme. The overcoming saints of Revelation are kept, not only from wrath but from the peril of loss of witness and the shame of a spotted garment (Rev 2:10, 22-23; 3:3, 16; 16:15).

One final point: never before the 19th century was the promise of being “kept from the hour” interpreted to mean physical exemption from the great test, and total removal from the earth, as this would be to contradict, not only many clear texts, but the whole pattern of God’s work in the past by setting forth in every season of crisis a witness of overcoming faith under fire. How then, by any reckoning, are tribulation saints, who are no less the dear children of God, to be denied the promise of being ‘kept from the hour’?

It is ridiculous to argue that only those believers living before the tribulation are “not appointed to wrath” (1Thes 5:9), as if to suggest that the saints living during the tribulation are any the less partakers of this promise. Whether living before or during the tribulation, never are the children of God the subject of divine wrath. This alone is sufficient to prove that one does not have to be absent from the hour of the test in order to escape its dangers and evils.    

Followup Question
Would you be able to direct me to the scripture(s) where Paul expects to be raised and resurrected at the end of the 3 1/2 years?

Yes, the object first must be to establish when the OT saints expected to be raised, show those passages in their native contexts, and then show that Paul expected his own resurrection with “all who belong to Christ” (1Cor 15:23) to be at the same time that the OT righteous are raised. A careful comparison of scripture will show decisively that the time of the resurrection never changed from OT to NT.

It is easy to prove from Job, Isaiah, and Daniel when the OT saints would be raised. Let’s start there and then move to Paul’s direct exclamation that ties his hope of translation to the same time, namely, the end of the final tribulation at the day of the Lord.

Let’s start with Job.

Notice that Job’s inspired expectation agrees with Paul’s affirmation that we all must be “changed” (1Cor 15:51-52).

Job 14:14
If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

Then in Job 19, we have that grand and glorious assurance that Job will see that great, curse reversing, atoning “Redeemer” with human feet standing on the earth in the latter day.

Job 19:25-27
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Zechariah tells us exactly when this will be.

Zechariah 14:4-5
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 …. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; … and the LORD my God shall come,
and all the saints with thee.

Then there is Isaiah’s assurance of the time of his personal resurrection with all the righteous of Israel. Note especially Isa 25:7-8, which Paul will very significantly quote as referencing the time of the church’s resurrection in 1Cor 15:54.

Isaiah 25:7-8
And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Seen in its larger context, there is no scholar or interpreter of which I’m aware that does not recognize that this passage has in view the resurrection of the righteous of Israel at the post-tribulational day of the Lord. Now turn the page and see in the next chapter where Isaiah places his own resurrection AFTER the final travail that is elsewhere shown to be the tribulation / travail of Jacob’s trouble (see Isa 13:8; Isa 66:8; Mic 5:3; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1).

Isaiah 26:17-19
Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Interestingly, in the next chapter, we see the very trumpet that all agree is the trumpet that Jesus has in view in Mt 24:31.

Isaiah 27:13
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

Could this be the same trumpet that Paul calls “last” in 1Cor 15:52? The evidence will leave no question that it is.

Now look at Daniel’s assurance that he would stand in his lot at the end of days (Dan 12:13) and receive his inheritance at that time with all the righteous who are to be raised AFTER the great, unequaled trouble.

Daniel 12:1-2
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of thy people: 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, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

So the time when the OT saints will be raised is put beyond reasonable dispute. After the devastating critique by Alexander Reese in his “The Approaching Advent of Christ” published in the 1940’s, modern pre-trib scholars now unanimously accept that the OT saints remain in “the dust of the earth” for an additional seven years while the bride is taken up to heaven for the marriage feast of the Lamb. What’s wrong with this picture?

Side note: According to the defenders of the pre-trib rapture, born again saints of the tribulation are not to be reckoned as “church saints” but “tribulation saints”, since in their view the body of Christ is believed to include only those living between Pentecost and the rapture. Saints living before Pentecost or after the rapture are not considered part of the body of Christ. Even though born of the Spirit, they are believed to belong to a different “people of God”, with a different destiny and uniquely distinct inheritance. This view was unheard of in church history until introduced in the mid 1800’s by J. N. Darby of the Plymouth Brethren movement. It was exponentially popularized by the publication of the famously well received Scofield reference Bible, first published in 1909.

So with the time of the resurrection of OT believers infallibly established, the question at hand becomes whether the body of Christ is to be raised at the same time or some earlier time? If so, what is the biblical basis for this inference?

Much more can be said concerning the NT view of the OT day of the Lord that also fixes the time of the resurrection of the NT believer no less than the OT saints, but before coming to the most decisive evidence of Paul’s own blessed hope, it is important to observe Jesus’ reference to this common Jewish hope of resurrection at the “last day” (Jn 11:24).

Jesus promised that all who the Father gives and draws to Him will be raised at the “last day” (Jn 6:39-40, 44). In Jn 11:24, we see from Martha’s reply that this was the common expectation of the Jews. Pre-tribulationists will point out that Jesus’ promise was before the church came newly into existence at Pentecost. On this presumption it is argued that only those dying before Pentecost will be raised at the last day.

While recognizing that the mystery of the many membered mystical body of Christ was not yet revealed (though new revelation does not necessarily mean new existence), it is most unnatural to suppose that the promise that those coming to Jesus would be raised at the last day only applied until Pentecost, and that believers dying after Pentecost, but before Paul’s revelation of the mystery of the rapture, were wrong to expect resurrection at the last day. It will surely be admitted that for one not already committed to the pre-trib position, this appears quite forced.

We are very familiar with Paul’s mention of the timing of the rapture / translation of living believers in connection with what he calls, “the last trump” (1Cor 15:52). However, pre-tribulationists are instant to caution us against associating Paul’s last trump with the 7th trumpet of Rev 10:7; 11:15, since John had not yet written the Revelation. Well, fair enough. Still, it is much to be observed that the last trumpet in the sequence of trumpets in the Revelation ‘just happens’ to have something very significantly in common with Paul’s last trump, namely, attendance by the Lord’s return to gather His saints.

Moreover, it was well known that Jesus spoke of a trumpet in connection with His return “immediately after the tribulation of those days” in Mt 24:39-31. There we see that the elect are “gathered together” and Paul will use this very language to describe “OUR gathering together” in 2Thes 2:1. So the old argument that Mt 24 is strictly “Jewish ground” that has nothing to do with the “church” will not hold up.

So would Paul have left his Corinthians without further qualification and distinction when such a natural ‘mis-association’ would have been so inevitable? But there is something even more decisive on the timing of the rapture that is seldom, if ever noticed.

All will agree that if we can rightly establish the time Paul’s last trump, we have established the time of the rapture. How then can we prove that Paul’s last trump is the same trumpet that Jesus says will attend His return after the tribulation? Paul tells us very plainly by his use of OT prophecy. Notice carefully.

1 Corinthians 15:51-54
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Now the decisive question is this? When is then? What time is in view? The problem for the pre-trib view comes in when was ask where the saying is written? When we locate the saying that Paul is referencing in Isa 25:8, an examination of the context leaves no question that the time in view is the post-tribulational day of the Lord. Only by separating what God has clearly joined can the time of the last trump of 1Cor 15:52 be exegetically disjoined or logically separated from the time that this ‘saying’ will be fulfilled. “For then (at the last trump) shall the saying be brought to pass that is written …”

If we begin by assuming that the last trump is before the tribulation, we are faced by a serious conflict, because the saying recorded in Isa 25:8 very clearly has its fulfillment after the tribulation. Recognizing this, the pre-tribulationists must argue for a double fulfillment, one before the tribulation and another that is after.

Herein lies the conflict that demands honest resolution. Are we really to believe that Isa 25:8 is fulfilled for Paul and the church seven years earlier than it is for the righteous of Israel, for Job (Job 19:25; Zech 14:4), for Isaiah (Isa 26:19), or Daniel? (Dan 12:2). 

Not only this, but Isa 25:8 very significantly belongs to a literary section of Isaiah that has been very well distinguished and called by scholars, “Isaiah’s little apocalypse”. Isa 24 begins a highly developed description of the cataclysmic day of the Lord and continues on this theme through to Isa 27 that ends, again, very significantly, with the jubilee trumpet of Isa 27:12-13. This trumpet announces the end of tribulation and penitent Israel’s regathering to the Land.

Pre-trib scholars and teachers recognize that this is indeed the trumpet to which Jesus refers in Mt 24:31. Yet, they insist we should distinguish between this obviously later trumpet and Paul’s supposedly earlier “last” trump. But are we to suppose that Paul would not have anticipated such an easy and natural confusion? Would he not, in practical anticipation, have said more to qualify and clarify this very natural, really inevitable association?

How natural to interpret Paul as having the same time in view that anyone reading Isa 25:8 would assume. And how much more this would be expected in view of what Jesus says of His post-tribulational return being accompanied by the well known trumpet of Isa 27:13, as well as His clear promise of the resurrection of His elect at the last day? (Jn 6:39-40, 44).

I think even a devoted pre-tribber would find it hard to imagine that Paul would not have taken greater pains to distinguish the otherwise indistinguishable. Better to see that Paul fixes his own blessed hope with all the redeemed at the post-tribulational day of the Lord, which the Jews, but most importantly Jesus, identifies as taking place at “the last day.”

Thus, it is NOT the time of the resurrection that constitutes the mystery. That was well known. Rather, is the nature of the translation and catching up for re-location, re-union, and spiritual rule that adds crucial insight to what was already well established and well known.

This is only a sample of so much more that could be said. Obviously many books have been written. But in view of such evidence, (“the plain person’s plain reading of plain language”), it is hard to imagine anything but the most determined emotionalism that would insist on clinging to such a precarious and potentially disarming position.

With due respect for the earnest hearts and well meaning quest for harmony of scripture by godly, sincere believers, I have come to believe that the doctrine of an any moment return to rapture the church seven years before the Lord’s return to rule is a dangerously disarming Trojan horse that has come into the evangelical camp for such a time as this.

Hope that helps.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie

Posted in Jacob's Trouble, Pre-Trib Rapture, Revelation, The Day of the Lord, The Last Days | Comments Off on Questions on Revelation 3:10

Simple Layman

Travis Bennett has started a new YouTube Channel called “Simple Layman”. He and Reggie Kelly have been working diligently during the Covid 19 crisis on a series called “Teaching the Prophetic Timeline” You can check it out HERE.

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Tribute to Philip Haney

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Contrasting Views on Israel and the Church

What’s your view on John MacArthur’s teaching on Israel?

We share MacArthur’s pre-millennial futurism and therefore agree on Israel’s corporate, national calling and election, and millennial destiny.

We agree that a remnant of penitent survivors of the great tribulation will be ‘‘born’ into holy, millennial nationhood ‘in one day’ (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9), when “they shall look upon Me whom they pierced” (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7). This will fulfill the glorious type of Joseph’s self-disclosure and reunion with his estranged brethren (Mic 5:3-4).

So on Israel’s distinctive election and destiny as an integral part of the everlasting covenant, we are quite agreed. We further agree on Israel’s unique stewardship over the literal Land of promise in the future millennial kingdom.

Where we differ, rather radically, is MacArthur’s view of the church as a separate people of God, occupying a parenthesis between Pentecost (the church’s presumed ‘birth day’) and the pre-tribulation rapture, which they place a full seven years (Daniel’s 70th week; Dan 9:27) before Jesus’ return to destroy the AC.

In contrast, we see every born again Jew and gentile as belonging to one unified people of God in Christ. In contrast, MacArthur sees the born again saints of the tribulation period, with all the Jews who come to faith after the supposed pre-trib rapture, as NOT belonging to Christ’s body. Rather, he sees all who are saved during the tribulation and beyond as belonging to a completely separate and distinct people of God. Even though blood washed and born again, they are NOT to be reckoned as part of the body of Christ.

In contrast, we would see the church of this present age in continuity with what Paul calls, “the remnant according to the election of grace”, the elect children of the Spirit in every generation. This was and remains the “Israel within Israel”, so to speak. And as Paul would speak of “Israel after the flesh” (1Cor 10:18), we would hold that there has always been an “Israel after the Spirit” (Ro 9:2:28-29; 9:6), the ‘Israel within Israel’, the true “Israel of God” (Ro 9:6; Gal 6:16). This is the part of the good olive tree that was never cut off but remain connected to the root and sap, which is to say those in living union with the Holy Spirit, who did in fact indwell the OT righteous (1Pet 1:11 et al).

Though not yet ‘revealed’ as the body of Christ, or the ‘one new man’, it is into this “true” (NOT “new”) ‘Israel of God’ (the “holy seed”; Isa 6:13), that the living gentile members of Christ have been ingrafted to become fellow-heirs with all the saints, equal citizens of the household of God and the commonwealth of Israel, the true seed of Abraham, the true circumcision (Phil 3:3), royal priesthood and holy nation (1Pet 2:9), and “the people” (Ro 9:24-26; 1Pet 2:10)

Theologically speaking, how can one be “in Christ” and NOT be “in Israel”? As the born again spirit belongs to a body that is not yet resurrected, yet no less claimed for future resurrection, we believe the body of Christ is an organism that exists internally within Israel. Regardless of how it’s ranks may swell with countless numbers of gentile believers, the organic union remains. The Lord’s Jewish humanity qualifies all who are in His body to inherit all things promised in the everlasting covenant made exclusively with Israel.

The gentile believer is no less part of the good olive tree, grafted “IN AMONG” (Ro 11:17), and therefore covenantally bound to natural Israel, as distinct but not separate, just as the living branches are distinct but never separate from a deep sense of identification with what touches the nation, whether for weal or woe until the day when the whole of the tree will have only living branches.

Saved Jew and saved gentile are needfully distinct for the sake of all the purposes that God has invested in causing and preserving that distinction. Yet, they are no less one.

Inextricably intertwined, they share a common hope and destiny of glorious inheritance of all things in Christ, albeit with certain temporary distinctions necessarily maintained for the unique demonstration and purpose that God has invested in preserving the visibility of the distinction for the sake of His mystery and the full outworking of His purpose, both now and in the millennium to come.

Like the prophets and the righteous remnant of Israel, and like Jesus and His Jewish apostles, the true body of Christ is spiritually and covenantally bound to even the spiritually dead nation, waiting for the day when every Jew on this earth (without exception; Jer 31:34) will be saved, and therefore no less a living member of Christ’s body (see Isa 4:3-4; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; 61:9; 65:23; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:40; Eze 20:40; 37:25; 39:22, 28-29; Zeph 3:13, 15, 19-20; Zech 8:23; 14:16-19, et al). This amazing phenomenon of millennial covenant fulfillment is what Paul is envisioning when he says, “and so then ALL Israel shall be saved …” (Ro 11:26).

So to conclude: we believe the church, so far as it is the true and living members of Christ’s mystical body, is in a relation to the blinded nation, it’s fortunes and fate, it’s experiences in history and it’s millennial destiny, in the same way the weeping prophets, and all the righteous remnant were related. Bound in covenant and hope, the righteous stood in a relation of priestly identification and intercessory travail, knowing that when the veil over the heart of this one nation is removed, it will be removed from all nations (Isa 25:7; Eze 39:21-23; Rev 10:7), so that not only will Israel know abiding peace and security in the Land, but all nations will beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more. So in this way, the body of Christ is a kind of first fruits and forerunner of what an all saved Jewish nation will be to the nations during the millennium.

A distinct millennial position and calling implies nothing of any thought of superiority, since the Jewish part of the body of Christ will be servants of all, a broken and contrite nation of priests, a kind of corporate “Ebed Yahweh” (Isa chaps. 40-55) to the nations. The only difference will not be one of superiority but of stewardship, just as a husband’s headship implies no superiority but only a distinction in authority and role.

Israel will be exalted in that day and the nations will be required to recognize the free and sovereign prerogative of God to choose as He will choose. There are a number of OT scriptures that show that not all nations will be equally willing, nor have the same delight in Israel’s exalted position in the millennium, so that then as now, God’s right to elect on a basis wholly independent of merit will be the calculated ‘rub’, divinely intended to test the heart concerning the very nature of grace.

We see this envy in Satan’s fall, in Cain’s envy against Abel, in Saul’s envy of David, and in so many instances throughout scripture, but especially in Jacob’s special love for Joseph and how this, together with Joseph’s prophetic dream of exaltation, stirred the greatest envy in the hearts of his brethren, even unto murder, despite the grief this would cause their father.

So it is now, and so it will be then in some quarters during the millennial earth. Election will always test the heart, exposing any presumption of claim on God’s freedom to give what He will, to whom He will, in the time of His own choosing, invariably on a basis utterly free from anything in, of, or from man that might move Him by anything outside His own free decision in grace. (compare Ps 102:13; 110:3; Gal 1:15-16).

I see this as the primary purpose for why God first set apart one distinct, miraculously preserved nation. It was ‘primarily’ to make this one great, openly visible demonstration of public exhibition in real, space time history on this earth. That is the free and incontestable sovereignty of His election, completely apart from human merit or deserving (Ro 9:11, 16).

As I see it, THIS is ‘a’, if not ‘THE’ primary purpose for the millennium. I think John MacArthur, perhaps more than others, would tend to agree.

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