Monday, May 28, 2018

The Church & Israel in the 70th week

Is there a Church-Israel overlap in the 70th week? Can God work with both Israel and the Church during this period? I briefly discussed this years ago. I wasn't born into a pretrib dispensational system so hopefully I haven't brought too many presumptions into the conversation.  At the time I wrote:
It’s true that God is currently working with Israel. He has brought a certain number of Israelites back into the land and has set up His “chess pieces” for the Final Week. 
I'm sympathetic to the notion that if God can (currently) focus on the church, while keeping Israel in play, then the same might apply to the 70th week of Daniel. Back then I also observed:
...if there are seventy weeks allotted to Israel and there is an overlap where God works simultaneously with the Church and Israel then what makes the 70th week what it is? ....if God is now working with the Church but also with Israel then what defines the 70th week and how is it different to the status quo?
I suspect that it’s not a matter of whether God can deal with Israel and the Church simultaneously during Daniel’s 70th week. It’s more a case of the purpose for the Tribulation. One of those purposes is to put Israel through a process where the nation will be redeemed.

In an earlier post I mentioned following rabbit trails regarding Jacob Prasch's Pre-Wrath Intra Seal system. Incidentally, he was one of the contributors to the polemical "Left Behind or Led Astray?" doc. What prompted my rabbit trail was a video someone shared in which he discussed the Antichrist.

At one point he makes several interesting comments.

He contends that post-rapture believers will not be in the same situation as the faithful church, and will experience terrible times. So there will be believers after the church is raptured. He cautions against people who talk about "tribulation saints." Is this because he thinks the "tribulation" is shortened, or another reason? He also adds that "mostly God turns His grace back to the Jews and it's not really grace as we would understand it."

One could write up another blog post speculating what we ought to call post-rapture believers and the length of the tribulation - likewise his cryptic remark about grace. Note that these post-rapture believers live under conditions of God's wrath, like the 5th seal martyrs in the pretrib model. That the 5th seal martyrs ask to be avenged doesn't indicate that God's wrath isn't already present. We see a similar situation when God used Assyria as the rod of His wrath against Israel, and later punished it.

Of particular interest is this statement:
"...once the faithful church is removed God turns His prophetic purposes back to Israel and the Jews - the age of the church is over." 
What happened to the juggling act?

How closely does the Intra Seal rapture align with Robert Van Kampen's model? The latter takes Matt 24:21-22 and applies it to v 31 to conclude that God cuts the tribulation short via the rapture of the church (contra Israel's final gathering). I've noted before that v 31 occurs after the tribulation, after the cosmic signs, after the sign of the Son of Man and the mourning of the tribes. The premise of Van Kampen's book "The Sign" is that signs precede Christ's coming. It's difficult to see how v 31 cuts the tribulation short.

This view asserts God intervenes (v 22) otherwise no Christians are saved alive to be raptured. A better fit is an intervention to keep people alive in order to enter and populate the millennial kingdom. At the rapture, dead saints are resurrected.

Does God intervene at this point so some believers are raptured alive (as some state), or in order to refocus on Israel? Or is it both? If the church is removed so that not all believers die, in what way is the Antichrist "hamstrung" so that post-rapture believers aren't completely wiped out?

Van Kampen asserts only Christians and Jews suffer "Antichrist's Tribulation" - for testing purposes; that the church and Israel are the targets of the 4th seal. This is because his view requires God's wrath to occur later. But how do we get this from 2 Thess 2:8-12 and Rev 6:8?

He draws parallels between the authority given to the beasts in the 4th seal and that of the beast in Rev 13 (The Rapture Question Answered pp 143-147). The fact that the Beast is given authority for 42 months (Rev 13:5) would seem to undermine his shortened great tribulation theory. See also Dan 12:7; Rev 12:14.

Note: My copy of Marvin Rosenthal's book has the 4th seal occurring prior to the Abomination of Desolation. Because of his view of the 4th seal, Van Kampen places it immediately after the AoD. This may be a source of confusion to those unfamiliar with the PW system, and even those who subscribe to it.

All this is to suggest that rapture themes aren't always "face value." Sometimes they're deductions built upon assumptions which can appear contradictory.

But regardless of Jacob Prasch's views on all the above, he does believe God removes the church in order to return His "prophetic purposes back to Israel." At that point he says the church age is over.

So for what it's worth here's what I think...

Everyone brings assumptions to the table. I believe God's wrath is evident prior to the 6th seal, and even in the ministry of the Two Witnesses. Why, exactly, is God's wrath only in effect during a narrowly defined Day of the Lord period? Why can't God's wrath be present when Satan descends in wrath? These assumptions affect our view of passages such as Rev 3:10.

With all this in mind, Daniel was told that 70 weeks were decreed for his people (Dan 9:24). It's obvious that this is speaking of Israel. Therefore it's reasonable to propose that God's purpose and focus for Israel begins at the start of the 70th Week. Not at some arbitrary point after its beginning. Hence it isn't unreasonable to see the church removed by that time. But that's my assumption.

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