I am having difficulty reconciling Genesis 9:11 and the interpretation that calamity to Israel is yet in the future. Either Genesis 9:11 should be literally interpreted as covering the Earth only with water and no other means [such as fire, earthquake, …] or is such a total calamity as we are saying precluded by Gen 9:11? Of course, we have already seen a holocaust, but a future calamity that destroys all Jews? [of course except the remnant].Please help me understand this.
It is indeed ‘an hard saying’. But we must distinguish. When thinking of the future judgment of Israel and the nations in the great tribulation (“Jacob’s trouble”), we must not think of it as so sweeping and complete as the judgement of the great flood. Unlike the flood wherein only eight souls survived, great numbers will survive the tribulation. For example, Zech 13:8-9 implies that a “third part” of the number of Jews living in the Land at the start of the tribulation will physically survive to the end. That’s amazing!
I believe this amazing survival ratio will have all to do with the church’s proper prophetic expectation and preparation. (Note: I do not expect so great a number to survive in the Land. Though there will be survival in the Land, I believe the far greater part will survive only because they manage to escape the rage of Antichrist by flight to places of refuge in neighboring regions. In my view, this will come in no small part through the instrumentality and direction of a prophetic aware church, but that is another discussion).
It is also important to recognize that when Jesus references the earlier prophets concerning a final time of unequaled trouble (Isa 13:6-8; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21), this does not mean that Jewish suffering will exceed what it has been many times before, though certainly never on such a world wide scale. The great tribulation of the last 3 1/2 years is without equal chiefly because the natural order will be in unparalleled upheaval in many places of the earth, as all nations are thrust into a fateful choice between compliance with the Antichrist or the futility of war (compare Dan 11:40-45; Zeph 3:8; Rev 16:12-14; Lk 21:10-11, 25-26; Rev 8:7-9 with Ro 8:22).
Other scriptures show a great number that are sealed before the judgments are permitted to begin (Rev 7:3). Others show that the woman (Israel and the believing remnant) will be “fed” for the full duration of the tribulation (Rev 12:6). Not only will many Jews survive, but a number of other scriptures agree in their indication that there will be a considerable number that survive from among the nations (Isa 60:5; 66:19; Dan 7:12; Zech 14:16-19). This is particularly clear when it is observed that the surviving remnant of penitent Israel will be tenderly assisted in theri return by gentiles who have manifestly survived the great tribulation (compare Isa 49:22; 60:9; 66:20; Zech 8:23).
This would suggests that not all who are in the nations take the mark of the beast, else there could not be such a considerable number of tribulation survivors that are left behind to assist in Jewish return to the Land. Manifestly, these gentiles were not translated at the rapture at the last trump (1Cor 15:23, 51-52 with Mt 24:31; Rev 10:7; 11:15), nor were they finally destroyed at Christ’s return. Therefore, we must infer that they did not already belong to Christ at the moment of His return (1Cor 15:23, 52) but, as gentile survivors of the tribulation, they become willing helpers of the great and final world wide Jewish exodus back to the Land, as depicted in such scriptures as Isa 11:11-12, 15-16; 27:12-13; Eze 39:28-29 etc.
We should also remember that during the tribulation, there will be the greatest harvest of souls brought to Christ that the world has ever seen (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3 with Rev 7:9, 13-14). All of this shows a considerable survival rate of witnesses throughout most of the tribulation, although, of course, there will be many martyrs (Dan 11:33, 35; Rev 6:11; 13:5). In any event, one thing is certain: “We shall not all sleep.”
[Note: I can hardly imagine such a sizable survival rate if the present doctrinal deadlock of denial continues to wield such a disarming and paralyzing influence, so that any proposal that believers should anticipate this time and consider the wisdom of practical preparation tends to be dismissed with the stigma of “survivalists.” But “has God really said” that believers will be denied access to all normal means of subsistence in a world system that will surely, at some soon point, come under the dominance of a final Antichrist?]
But to return to your question, the Rainbow covenant of Gen 9:11 should always be compared with Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:3-7: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
From this we see that the sweeping judgments of the great and unequaled tribulation are not cancelled out by the Rainbow covenant of Gen 9:11, since the element of water is specifically named as the agent of destruction, whereas this will be by fire (Isa 24:6; 2Pet 3:10, 12). However, whatever its nature, the saints are promised special protection in its midst (Isa 24:15; 43:2).
Furthermore, Peter’s prophecy comprehends, not only the fire associated with the great tribulation, but the final fire of the last judgment on the wicked at the millennium’s end, which is also the time of the second resurrection (Rev 20:5-9).
While the tribulation will be a time like no other, there are also many exaggerated and inaccurate views concerning that time that fail to take into account all that scripture reveals of the period. One thing we know: Christ’s return is good news to all who pray for the kingdom to come to this troubled earth, but it is not good news to any who presume to stand before Him in any other righteousness than His alone.
It is called the “blessed hope,” not because it exempts from tribulation, as some say, but because it is the time of the believer’s perfected union with Jesus. But even more than what is personal, it is only His return that will put a stop to sin’s cruel reign over Israel and the nations. And every believer who looks beyond his or her own personal peace and comfort will groan together with the creation for that glorious goal of a kingdom come to earth, “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2Pet 3:13).
I hope you will find some of these thoughts helpful.
Blessings of great goodness upon you and your family, my beloved friend, Reggie