[This statement is added to an earlier article of the same title]
I have just read another article of urgency warning of an imminent war, which I do not doubt, but what concerns me is that attached to this ever present, and now even probable possibility, is the expectation that this will set in motion the world wide persecution of the Jews, and that now is the time to prepare all possible means of transport to get Jews back to the Land.
It is not the sobriety of the warning that concerns me, but the failure to distinguish events that belong to different times and circumstances. I believe such misplacement of the order of events can lead to premature decisions and expectations that further discredit prophecy and distract from the real thing when the real time comes. This concern has moved me to point out some important distinctions that might save some from needless confusion and decisions that are based on false assumptions.
I ask of those that have little enough patience with theological hair splitting to bear with me a little, as I feel I must go into some detail in order to show the order of events that we must keep in mind if we are to avoid the false alarms of prophetic speculation, since by these, many are further disarmed and unprepared for the real thing when it comes.
While it is true that antisemitism can break out anywhere anytime, it is usually possible to “some extent” to see it coming if we are indeed expecting it to increase suddenly and pervasively, particularly as Israel is made to appear the cause of the world’s woes.
We know that the Jews are not the object of the last world wide persecution UNTIL the last 3 1/2 years. Furthermore, we know that Jacob’s trouble comes 3 1/2 years after the covenant has been confirmed that brings the deadly false peace (Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 9:27; 11:23; 1Thes 5:3). There may indeed be tribulation, but “the tribulation, the great one” of Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21 and Rev 7:14 cannot begin before there is a sacrifice and a temple that stands again, at least in some early stage of construction (Dan 11:31; 12:11; Mt 24:15; 2Thes 2:4). This alone is sufficient to make the time clear when it is time to know the time with that degree of definite certainty.
Therefore, even if Russia and China take out America, or any other conceivable combination of events in a world war III type scenario, we know that Israel survives as a nation, and evidently comes into an even greater political and strategic advantage in the region. Why? It is because Israel must make the false peace that provides for the conditions necessary for the abomination that comes in the middle of the week, 3 1/2 years after the great delusion that presumes a lasting peace for Israel can be possible apart from an everlasting righteousness.
Now certainly, the godly remnant that has foreseen the evil has made ready to hide Jews in flight, but once again, that particular flight does not begin until the beginning of the last 3 1/2 years. Now here’s why I point out what is too little considered. The body of Christ that has been hiding and preaching the gospel to persecuted Israel in a mutual experience of persecution and flight will NOT be the direct agents of Jewish return. This is because we will have been gathered to Christ at His return by way of rapture at the “last” trump (compare Mt 24:31; 1Cor 15:52; 1Thes 4:14, 17; 2Thes 2:1; Rev 10:7; 11:15).
The true bride will be the witness that prepares them for repentance and return, but they will not be the physical agents for that return. The world wide return of Israel that comes only after the destruction of Antichrist at the day of the Lord (2Thes 2:1-3, 8) will be by the assistance of gentiles that manifestly were not “in Christ” at the time of the rapture. I’ll return to this.
If plain language is permitted to plainly describe the time and nature of Jewish return, we can see that THIS return is by natural means of transport (Isa 60:9; 66:20), employed by thankful gentiles (Isa 49:22) who have manifestly survived the great tribulation, and count it greatest privilege to bring the sons and daughters of Israel home, as an holy offering to the Lord (compare Isa 49:22; 60:9; 66:20). Context and language, both here and many places, will show that this is AFTER the day of the Lord.
The language in its proper context will further show that these gentile survivors, along with the saved of Israel, enter the millennial earth in natural bodies. This stands in marked contrast with the translation and catching up of the bride into glorified immortality to rule and reign with Christ over the millennial earth.
The day of the Lord salvation of Israel happens in conjunction with the revelation of the returning Jesus (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39; Acts 3:20; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7). This is why the penitent survivors of Jacob’s trouble are not changed and taken up by way of rapture. It is because they were not already “in Christ” at the time of the rapture.
The Jews that get saved before the rapture will be changed and caught up with all who are “in Christ” at the point of the rapture. This is clear from 1Cor 15:23, 52 and 1Thes 4:14. However, the penitent survivors of Israel do not go up with the church, but are shown going into the millennium, as newly filled with the Spirit, but in natural bodies. The reason seems clear. Scripture is harmonized when we recognize that at the same instant the bride is being changed and caught up, the penitent remnant of Israel are, at that same moment, able now to “look upon Him whom they pierced” (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39; Rev 1:7). That, by the way, is the look of faith and revelation, not a mere physical seeing. It will be like Paul’s seeing of Christ on the Damascus road.
“At once,” and “in one day,” the revived nation passes from death to life (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 14:7). Clearly, this is the day of the Lord when the Deliverer comes out of Zion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Isa 59:19-21; Acts 3:20-21 with Ro 11:26). Many hasten to point out that the day of the Lord is much more than a 24 hour period. That is true; but this point of transition is even more precise than a single day. It comes “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1Cor 15:52), not only “in one day”, but “at once” (Isa 66:8).
A careful comparison of scripture with scripture will show that the spiritual regeneration of Israel comes immediately with the revelation of Christ in conjunction with the pouring out of the Spirit. The time is clear. It is the great and notable day of the Lord (compare Joel 2:28-32; 3:14-16, but especially Eze 39:29 with Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39; Acts 3:20; Rev 1:7). To make the time even more definite, note that both Jesus and Peter quote from Joel’s prophecy to show that the darkness that comes AFTER the tribulation (Mt 24:29) comes BEFORE the great and notable day of the Lord (compare Mt 24:29 with Acts 2:20; 2Pet 3:10, 12 with Rev 16:14-17 with Eze 39:8). So clearly, the ‘national’ salvation of Israel is at the end of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7), but this does not mean that many Jews have not been saved all along the way with all that great multitude that comes out of ‘the tribulation, the great one’ (Rev 7:9, 13-14).
If we will “carefully” examine the context of the scriptures describing this last, and clearly post-tribulational return, we will see that it is not the preliminary return in unbelief that we see today (also foretold in prophecy, Eze 38:8; Zeph 2:1-2). We must distinguish, since this latter and final return will be world wide and complete, to the last person (Eze 39:28).
This return is AFTER Jacob’s trouble. It is AFTER the great and notable day of the Lord. It is AFTER the last trumpet (Isa 27:13; Mt 24:31; 1Cor 15:52; Rev 10:7; 11:15). It is the earliest days of the millennium. Christ has returned and the true bride has been translated into glorified immortality by way of rapture and resurrection. In contrast, the Jews are returning from every nation in natural bodies by every natural means of transport (Isa 66:20). They are NOT gathered to meet the Lord in the air. We are careless with the plain language of scripture if we do not make this distinction, since in no other way (of which I’m aware) can the scripture be harmonized. The day of the Lord will mean rapture for the true church (of this present age); it will mean repentance and return for the saved remnant of Israel.
The time is clear; and the manner and the means are just as clear. After the bride has been caught up and gathered (Mt 24:31; 2Thes 2:1) to meet the Lord in the air (1Thes 4:17) , gentiles are depicted escorting a contrite and penitent remnant back to the Land. They do not appear to be resurrected saints, but newly awakened seekers (Zech 8:23) who are implementing every conceivable ‘natural’ mode of transportation (Isa 60:9; 66:20) to get Jews back to the Land. Christ is here; the Antichrist is destroyed, and Jews can return home safely and dwell in truest eternal security, as an all holy nation forever.
We can see why the gentiles undertake this labor of love and reverence for the everlasting covenant. With the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God has been finished (Rev 10:7), and the deeply humbled nations of the gentiles (those comparatively “few” that are left; Isa 24:6), now begin to understand the meaning behind Israel’s long and tragic experience in history (Eze 39:23, 27). This explains why these gentile survivors see their part in assisting the Jews back to the Land as an offering to the Lord (Zech 2:11; 8:23; Isa 49:22; 60:9; 66:20), but this is NOT us bringing them back; we have been taken up.
It is this clearly revealed activity of gentiles who have manifestly survived the tribulation that leads me to conclude, on the basis of 1Cor 15:23, 52 and 1Thes 4:14, that not all the unsaved of the earth take the mark of the beast, else they would not have survived Christ’s return. This seems clear, because many scriptures show that there will be some from among the nations that survive the judgments of the tribulation. These will enter the millennium in natural bodies (e.g., Isa 61:9; 65:20-23; 66:19-20; Eze 39:2, 9-16; Dan 7:12; Zech 14:16-18 et al). From this, it appears that that not everyone who is unsaved during the tribulation take the mark.
It is important that we distinguish how and by whom Jews return from all lands after the tribulation. It is clear that they do not return by way of rapture, but as newly born again, Spirit filled believers, assisted by surviving gentiles whose hearts have been lately turned towards God and His elect people, as the dust of Armageddon begins to settle.
I realize that such fine points of distinction can be difficult and even frustrating, but if we do not make these important distinctions we will be prone to engage in premature or misdirected activities. Even though the expectation of certain events may be correct, our actions and decisions must be based on an accurate reading of scripture, as to their proper time and order.
Many will, of course, simply exclaim that the Spirit has led them in a certain way. Well, that is well and good for them, but what about the rest of us? Our only truly “mutual” safety is the scripture, rightly interpreted, for which we need the greatest help of the Spirit, but this is what He has promised (Jn 16:13; 1Jn 2:27). So this is not for the “experts,” but it is for the diligent (“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter;” Prov 25:2).
All is to say, while I see it is our responsibility to anticipate and prepare for the flight of the Jews, it is NOT our job to get them back to the Land. It is, however, our responsibility to do all in our power to help them survive until the day of national salvation, which I am convinced is not accidentally the time of our translation. With the birthing of Israel, the church’s travail is complete and our unique task for this dispensation is finished in their return. The salvation of Israel does not come in a vacuum. It is the result of a combination of the church’s prophetic witness (Dan 11:33) amid an unequaled tribulation of fearful “signs” in earth and in heaven (Mt 24:3, 30; Lk 21:11; Acts 2:19) empty Jacob of his power (Deut 32:36 with Dan 12:7).
Indeed, we may say that now is the time to prepare spiritually and practically for a soon time when none can buy or sell, and when we know that not only Jews, but all true believers will be hated and hunted, but how is now the time to hide Jews? How can now be the time to prepare ships for their return? I can see where ships may indeed play a role in their flight and preservation during the tribulation, but the ships that bring them home are those put into use by the gentile survivors of the tribulation (Isa 60:9). The only reason I can imagine that we should work towards returning Jews to the Land before the time of Jacob’s trouble is if we ‘assume’ that that the greater potential for Jewish survival will be in the Land, but that is not what the evidence suggests.
I would just point out that when the great post-tribulational trumpet of Isa 27:13 sounds, it finds Jews who are near to perishing in Egypt and Assyria. Could it be that Jews have fled to these nations, because the prospect for Jewish survival is greater in these presently hostile nations than in the Land itself? This, and the clear evidence of scripture that Jewish survival will depend upon flight into the neighboring wilderness (Isa 16:1-5; 26:20; 42:11; Mt 24:16; Rev 12:6, 14) and into the “wilderness of the nations” (Eze 20:35) leads me to conclude that the time before an unequaled tribulation that begins and has its first concentration “in the Land” is NOT the time to encourage Jews back to the Land, at least not without fearlessly telling them what they’re in for.
I do not doubt the crisis or the urgency to anticipate the ever present probability of war, not only in Israel, but one that could very easily spread throughout the world. I expect just such a thing to bring about the conditions that will make the false peace possible. I do NOT, however, expect that this preliminary violence will particularly target Jews in the nations. There must be a false peace after the storm, which will be the delusive calm before the ultimate storm.
We can certainly expect that a war that begins with a strike on Iran will certainly bring an attempted retaliation on the nation. It is also possible, even likely, that terrorists cells will target Jewish population centers throughout the world, but this is not the time of the final flight of Jews, and it is not, in my view, the time to be trying to get Jews back to the Land.
Some of my closest and dearest brothers oppose me on this, but I will bear the reproach for splitting theological hairs if it can prevent well meaning believers from further embarrassing the prophetic scriptures by premature actions due to neglect of plain language in its context.
In the Beloved, Reggie
Q & A
Question: “If I read you correctly, do I understand that you believe there will be a period of time between the rapture of the saints and the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation?”
I’m glad you asked, brother. I should have been clearer. The answer is no; I see the two events as simultaneous. Both are triggered by nothing less than the Lord’s glorious coming in clouds “immediately AFTER the tribulation,” as He descends to the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4; Job 19:25). At the very moment of His visible appearing (Mt 24:27; 1Cor 15:52; Rev 1:7), those who have remained alive will be caught up to meet the myriads of departed saints who are coming with him (compare Isa 13:3; Joel 3:11; Zech 14:5; 1Thes 3:13; 4:14). This becomes clear when we see that the day of the Lord is also the time of the rapture.
Question: “If so, how long?”
No time at all. The rapture happens at the last trumpet in manifest connection with the day of the Lord (Mt 24:29, 31 with 1Cor 15:52; 1Thes 5:2, 4; 2Thes 2:1-3). The day of the Lord, or the “day of God” Almighty, is everywhere shown to come AFTER the tribulation.(Compare Mt 24:29, 43; with Acts 2:20; 2Thes 2:3, 8; 2Pet 3:10. 12 with Rev 16:14-16). Note the relationship between these passages show that the ‘thief like’ day of the Lord is clearly AFTER the stellar darkness (Acts 2:20) that comes AFTER the tribulation (Mt 24:29). If we compare 2 Pet 3:10, 12 with Rev 16:14-16, we see that the day of the Lord, also called, ‘day of God’ and ‘day of God Almighty’ does not come as a thief until sometime AFTER the sixth bowel in Rev 16:14-15. This shows clearly that the thief like return of Christ is at the very end of the tribulation and not sooner.
Therefore, it is a fallacy to try to separate the Lord’s return from the day of the Lord, and the time of the day of the Lord is very clearly AFTER the tribulation. (Mt 24:29 with Acts 2:20; Rev 16:14-15). Although the day of the Lord comes as a thief, this does not mean that it takes the godly by surprise (1Thes 5:4). Contrary to popular opinion, Christ’s does not come without sign or warning, as in pre-tribulationism. Even if misinterpreted as to their proper meaning, the principal sign will be clear and outward for all to see (Mt 24:15). The only reason the signs will be ignored or misinterpreted is because of an unparalleled deception that scripture warns will prevail in those days (Mt 24:24). For this, Jesus prescribes only one safe antidote (Mt 13:23).
Question: “If I read you correctly, if unsaved Gentiles who survive until the end of the tribulation are going to be the ones who bring the Jews back to Zion, then this would imply a period of days, if not weeks or months. Would it not?”
Yes, it takes time to traverse sea and land on the long trek back home from the lands of their dispersion, but this is what a host of Old Testament passages depict. Again, the question will come to whether such passages are properly to be interpreted literally according to the original author’s intention, or some other way? From this we see that the saved remnant of Israel (such that survive the tribulation to go into the millennial age in natural bodies) were not members of the body (not yet “in Christ”) at the time of the rapture. Evidently, the penitent remnant are enabled to “look upon Him whom they pierced” (Zech 12:10) at the precise moment that He is coming in the clouds (Rev 1:7) to destroy Antichrist and to gather His elect at the last trump (Mt 24:31; 1Cor 15:52; 2Thes 2:1-3, 8; Rev 10:7: 11:15-18). At that same moment, the surviving remnant of Israel are being born (spiritually reborn) “at once” and in “one day” (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 14:7). That is the day of the Lord. It is when ungodliness is turned away from Jacob (compare Isa 59:19-21 with Ro 11:25-29). It is the day the Spirit is poured out on the penitent remnant (Joel 2:28-32; Eze 39:27-29 with Zech 12:10; Rev 1:7). Because the Jewish remnant were not saved before the rapture, they were not changed into glorified immortality at the last trump, with “all” who were already in Christ (1Cor 15:23; 52; 1Thes 4:14, 17). If we let the day of the Lord be what scripture describes as “one day” after the tribulation, then we can see that the beleaguered remnant of Israel is being given the gift of repentance on the same day that the church is being caught up. That is why their experience is markedly different from that of those who were already in Christ at the time of the rapture. That is why their return to the Land in natural bodies and with the assistance of gentiles who have survived the tribulation is quite to be distinguished from the post-resurrection experience of the church.