A Rapture Study: The Tribulation (Part 2)

To have an understanding of the rapture, it’s essential to also understand the purpose of the tribulation as well as who it’s for. The tribulation is meant for the salvation of the Jewish nation and to punish an unrepentant mankind.

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In the first part of this study, I focused on the Jewish nature of the tribulation, that this 7 year period of time is a time pre-determined for the Jewish people. For this reason, it’s known as “Jacob’s Trouble” and “Daniel’s 70th week”. In the second part of this study, I will build on this fact and delve into the purpose of the tribulation as a period of time meant to bring the nation of Israel into a saving knowledge of their messiah and punish an unrepentant mankind.

Although the tribulation is an important concept to understand the rapture, it is still one of the many pieces of this puzzle. If you’re not familiar with the tribulation and want more insight, navigate to the articles below on my 2 part study on this time period for a general overview.

What’s the Purpose of the Tribulation?

“I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:9, NKJV)

An Unsaved Israel

The tribulation serves many purposes, but for the sake of this article, I’m focusing on only two. First, it’s meant to “refine” Israel and bring them back to God as can be seen in Zechariah 13:9. It’s often said that “the tribulation is for the salvation of the Jewish nation“.

Israel will go through severe persecution through the tribulation but by its end, they will call upon the name of the Lord and all of Israel will be saved, “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” (Daniel 12:10, NKJV).

It’s at this time they will realize the error of their ways and in their affliction, they will call for him and he will come to their aid, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10, NKJV).

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10, NKJV)

One way God will carry this out is by separating the rebels from the true believers, “‘I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord’” (Ezekiel 20:37-38, NKJV). The number of those separated is illustrated to us in Zechariah 13:9 as two-thirds of the nation of Israel.

Another part of God’s plan for the nation of Israel during and after this 7 year period is to bring the Jews back to their land, “‘For behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it’” (Jeremiah 30:3, NKJV). This further emphasizes the fact that the purpose of Daniel’s 70th week or Jacob’s Trouble is Jewish in nature.

An Unrepentant Mankind

Although multitudes of people will be saved during the tribulation, God uses this time to test the whole world – the unbelieving gentile nations. We can see this in the letter addressed to the church of Philadelphia, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10, NKJV).

This is an often debated verse that I plan to look into more in a separate study in terms of what Jesus meant when he said they’ll be “kept from the hour of trial”. During this period of time, those on the earth will need to choose what side they want to be on; the devil’s or God’s. Choosing one or the either has its eternal consequences, heaven or eternal damnation at the lake of fire.

Passages such as Isaiah 2:5-22, Isaiah 24, and Zephaniah 1:17 paint a crystal clear picture of this time period and the judgment God will pour on an unrepentant mankind. It’s a time of severe judgment of the inhabitants of the world to punish mankind for their wickedness and lawless deeds (Isaiah 13:9-16, NKJV). My question to you would be knowing this, where does the church fit into this? How do we need to be punished?

“That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness.” (Zephaniah 1:15, NKJV)

An important point to note concerning what Jesus says in Revelation 3:10 is the meaning of “test”. Jesus makes it clear that this 7 year period of time is to “test those who dwell on the earth” – including the nation of Israel and gentile nations. The word used here for “test” in the Greek is “peirazō”. It’s defined as

  • to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself

The bible makes it clear that the tribulation period known as “Jacob’s Trouble” and “Daniel’s 70th Week” is for Israel’s corporate salvation. It’s a time apportioned for Daniel’s people – the Jews – and Daniel’s holy city – Jerusalem. It’s also a time period where God will test the whole world. Why would Christians need to go through this time period and be tested when we’ve already been found blameless and righteous before God through our faith in Christ’s atoning work at the cross?

Case for the Pre-trib rapture

If we were to go through the tribulation period and be tested with the rest of the world, wouldn’t this mean God is testing his son’s sacrifice which has already been deemed perfect? Based on the Greek definition of the word “peirazō” and the aforementioned purpose for the tribulation, why then would born again, holy spirit-filled Christians need to be tested for the purpose of ascertaining our “quality” – this being faith towards God for example?

We also know that this period of time is to judge the world for their wickedness and lawless deeds so how does the church fit into that when again, our sins have been judged on the cross? Since this is true, why then would we need to go through the tribulation and experience God’s wrath? We are neither unbelieving Israel who God has dealings with during this time nor are we unrepentant gentiles living a sinful life deserving of God’s judgment.

I believe the bible makes it clear that this period of time is primarily for the Jewish nation of Israel. He has allotted a specific amount of time to make certain things come to pass. This final “week” of Daniel’s 70 weeks given in Daniel 9:24-27 will be a time period where God deals specifically with his chosen people – to regather them to their land and cause them to believe on their messiah amongst other things.

God will also use this time period to meticulously test those who dwell on the earth in order to ascertain their “quality” and to bring many to a saving knowledge of Christ, “For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9, NKJV). For these reasons, I believe the church will have no place in Daniel’s 70th week.

I hope you stick with this study as I continue to make my argument for the pre-tribulation rapture of the church.

 

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About the Author

Ayo is an energetic blogger striving to use his insights and God given talents to share the Gospel. Through his blog, he aspires to point skeptics of the bible to the truth of the Gospel using apologetics. His aspires to also inform others - both believer and non-believer - regarding the times we're living in preceding the Lord's soon return through the study of prophecy. He hopes to both inform his readers with facts, equip them with tools to communicate the Gospel, and offer hope and encouragement through God's Word.