Sunday, December 19, 2010

Church age overlap?

Was there an overlapping of the Church Age and the Old Testament economy? Discussions along this line arise when the idea is put forward by “some” dispies that during the 7 year Tribulation; Grace will give way to Law again. In other words, this Age of Grace is an “interruption” in God’s plan for Israel. When that plan resumes, the Church won’t be there.

I’m eminently unqualified to make any emphatic or really informed comments regarding the Dispensation of Daniel’s 70th week and there seems to be debate among dispies regarding this anyway. However, I do think there are clues in Revelation that suggest that something has changed.

As an example, angels seal the 144, 000 – it's not performed by the Holy Spirit. The cry of the 5th seal martyrs for vengeance seems to be at odds with what we’d expect from “gracious” Church saints. One of the arguments posited for the Church going through the Tribulation is that it needs to be “refined”…

“When Jesus returns, He is coming back for a Bride “without spot or wrinkle” (Eph. 5:27). Can we truly say that if He returned today, the entire body of believers could be described as “without spot”? The seals are a time of refinement by fire so that the Bride may be presented blameless before Him. While the Church may be positionally righteous before God, this is a far cry from being without spot.”

Apart from the theological problems inherent within that statement - in light of Rev 6:10 we might ask, does refinement produce vengeful saints? And pity about the vast majority who miss out on that “refining” process by dying before the Tribulation!

In an attempt to debunk that Dispensational argument for the Church being absent, some argue that there was an overlap when the Church was birthed and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Following on from that, then the same can be said that during the 7 year Tribulation we can have an overlap where the Church is present as God judges Israel.

“…it would be impossible to defend the position that a Jewish man, living in Jerusalem, who was deemed righteous and acceptable before God under the Old Testament economy the day before Christ died, was, the day after Christ’s death, unrighteous and rejected.” Marvin Rosenthal

This isn’t a valid objection and it misses the point entirely. It’s also a straw man argument because it puts words into the Dispensational mouth. The hypothetical man’s salvation is speculation and a matter between himself and God. What is beyond doubt, however, is that there was no more need for the Old Testament economy’s rules relating to that salvation.

The destruction of the Temple in 70 AD had nothing to do with the cessation of the “Old Testament economy”. Once Christ died for our sins, any Temple sacrifice became obsolete. There is no overlap. A Jew offering a sacrifice in the Temple - after Christ’s work on the cross - was simply wasting his time. That sacrifice ceased to be officially acknowledged.

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. However, it is called Daniel’s 70th week and that means Israel.

While some argue that “your people” in Dan 9:24 includes the Church and that the Tribulation saints are the Church, some of these also believe in a rapture that occurs during the 70th week where Israel gets left behind. A consistent reading of Dan 7:25 and Rev 13:5-7 would seem to be a problem for that view. There are other complications with blurring distinctions between Israel and the Church and the issues are more complex than some may realize.

But 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? Again, 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 matter of the purpose for the Tribulation. One of those purposes is to put Israel through a process where the nation will be redeemed.

That has nothing to do with the Church.

While not intending to be dogmatic, I believe the Dispensational view is the most consistent in dealing with these issues.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mat 24:36

But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. (Mat 24:36 ASV)

There’s a short video on the internet that draws attention to this verse. It gets pretribbers to acknowledge that this speaks of the rapture then it tells them that they’ve just admitted that the rapture is found in Matthew. Indeed, some pretribbers DO think the rapture is in Matthew but that’s another story.

As for verse 36, reading on from there it’s a long stretch to imagine that “that day” occurs immediately after the “great tribulation”.

37 And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. 38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, 39 and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. (Mat 24:37-39 ASV)

21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Mat 24:21-22 ASV)

Note the extent of Matt 24:21-22 is global, not just Church persecution.

3 And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, Come. 4 And another horse came forth, a red horse: and to him that sat thereon it was given to take peace from the earth, and that they should slay one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. 5 And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, Come. And I saw, and behold, a black horse; and he that sat thereon had a balance in his hand. 6 And I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, A measure of wheat for a shilling, and three measures of barley for a shilling; and the oil and the wine hurt thou not. 7 And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, Come. 8 And I saw, and behold, a pale horse: and he that sat upon him, his name was Death; and Hades followed with him. And there was given unto them authority over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with famine, and with death, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Rev 6:3-8 ASV)

3 And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if any man desireth to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies; and if any man shall desire to hurt them, in this manner must he be killed. 6 These have the power to shut the heaven, that it rain not during the days of their prophecy: and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall desire. (Rev 11:3-6 ASV)

All this presumably occurs immediately before the rapture when they are saying “peace and safety” and “drinking, marrying and giving in marriage”.

You get the picture.

2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape. (1Th 5:2-3 ASV)

Here’s what R L Thomas has to say about Matt 24:36. Begin at the bottom of page 3:


One more thing; Pretribbers are often taken to task for believing a “secret rapture” that, conveniently, is so secret it isn’t found in any verse. Interestingly, neither is the mid-trib, pre-wrath or post-trib rapture found in any verse…and they’re not even meant to be a secret. Strange that.


After posting this I came across a blog that asked the question “Why do PreTribbers always take Matthew 24:36 out of context?” (
I could ask a number of questions about his rapture view as well.) The writer answers himself by saying they have to. Inserted among the objections was this gem:

“He (Jesus) continues that it will take the world at large by surprise just like the flood took everyone by surprise in the days of Noah. Except of course, Noah was not taken by surprise. This tells us that Jesus was teaching that His disciples would not be taken by surprise at His coming. So how could anyone reading this passage in its proper context come away with the idea that the second coming of Jesus as described in the Olivet Discourse could occur at any moment? That’s why the verse is taken out of context. The PreTribber will NEVER give the entire background when quoting that verse since it will undermine his unbiblical definition of imminency.”

Read the verses again. It couldn’t be plainer.

36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

That’s no one. Arguing that Noah knew is irrelevant to Matthew’s verses and not what Jesus plainly states.

37 "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 "For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."

The context is surprise and - guess what? No one will know.

Don't the post-trib and pre-wrath folk argue that the wrath at Rev 6:17 is still future? If that's the case then "the world at large" isn't taken by surprise either. That kind of distorts Matt 24:36 just a tad, doesn't it?

Claiming that "Jesus was teaching that His disciples would not be taken by surprise at His coming" is blatantly reading something into the text that isn't there. I believe there's another word for that...

Non-pretribbers have to argue this way because imminency undermines their view ;-)

Will Believers Know the Day?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Second Coming of Christ

Clarence Larkin's classic book "The Second Coming of Christ" is now online and can be read HERE

"Dispensational Truth" is also available and can be read HERE