Eschatology

Events Prior of the Tribulation

A lot has happened in this world since the Garden of Eden and in our minds a lot of it has been good and more of it has been bad. Through the ages men have wondered why is there so much evil in this world. For one thing man’s fall into temptation at Satan’s beckoning fractured the prototype of God’s mirror creation of Heaven here on earth. As a result wherever man goes in God’s creation sin spreads along with him. When Satan rebelled against God believing he could be as the Most High God there was war in Heaven and Satan was cast down to the earth. (Revelation 12:7-17) Here in this world Satan has become the god of this domain and is fulfilling his purpose to destroy everything that is godly. Satan’s prize is to rip the spirits of men from the grasp of God. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

We must never forget that God is sovereign through the ages and throughout eternity. No created beings such as Satan or his minions have that glory. God knows the end from the beginning and has the perfect plan to reconcile men unto Himself through Jesus. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) God has always had a divine plan and He has the power to cause His divine plan to come to into being.

It is important then for us to know the works of God’s divine plan prior to the beginning of our study of Eschatology. The purpose then before we look into the end time events is to understand, as best we can, the events of God’s divine plan prior to the tribulation. They provide a testimony that we can have faith in God’s plan and that we are to walk in His ways regardless of our understanding. It is a walk of faith and faith is the conduit that God’s grace flows into our lives.

We often hear the term Judeo Christian faith. We as Christians must be careful in our speech in reference to the Jewish nation. They are and will always be God’s chosen people. As Christians we serve a Jewish Savior and to insult His people is to insult our Lord Jesus Christ. We as Christians have been grafted into the Jewish faith. We serve the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Romans 11:11-13) The Jews are our brothers in the faith and we will share eternity with them in God’s Kingdom.

It is true in the first century the Israelite nation rejected Jesus as their Messiah. If they had not, then where would we be today? “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” (Acts 28:28) When the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah they experienced a judicial blindness and a hardening of their heart as a judgment from God. “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25)

The teaching that the Jewish nation had received for centuries was that their salvation came by their works and not by their faith. Their belief was that they must keep the law and that would give them their salvation. But no man has kept the law of God perfectly save one, Jesus Christ. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10) The Jews stumbled of the stumbling stone who is Jesus Christ. (Romans (31-33) The Jews stumbling resulted in the     crucifixion of their Messiah and therefore suffer the judgment of God. They also lost their favored position before God and it was given to the Gentiles in order to make the Jew jealous that they were being saved. “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.” (Romans 11:11)

The Jewish nation was to be a nation of Holy Priest. (Exodus 19:6) Jesus built His Church with the Messianic Jews and the Gentiles who would place their faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 3:3-5, 9) This blindness that the Jews have to the gospel truth is only a temporary punishment for the Jews. Prior to the end of the Tribulation their eyes will be opened to recognize Jesus as their true Messiah. “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)  A remnant of the Jewish nation will be saved. “And so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” (Romans 11:26) They will call upon Him to rescue them from the invading forces of the Antichrist.

Let us now look at the purpose for the Church of Jesus. The Church age which we are presently in is a time of mystery according to the Prophecy of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. (Daniel 9:24-27) In Daniel’s seventy weeks there are four sections. The timing is that each week represents a week of years. Seven years to each week. The first seven weeks of the prophecy or forty-nine years was a time for the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the exile in Babylon.  (Ezra 9:11-16; 9:9) After these seven weeks passed there were sixty-two more weeks. A time between the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Messiah being cut off, which was Jesus’ crucifixion. The seven weeks and the remainder of the sixty-two weeks is a total of four hundred eighty three years. The third section is a mystery and comes in between the 69th week and the last week of the Great Tribulation. This Church age is the mystery that the Apostle Paul spoke of. (Ephesians 3:1-7) This is the age in which the Gospel of Christ was preached to the Gentile nations and will end when the Church is called out before the Tribulation.

The universal Church of Christ is an ever growing body of believers in the Lord Jesus ‘Christ. To be a true believer in the body of Christ one must be born again. As Jesus taught Nicodemus. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6) The body of Jesus’ Church is diversified in age, sex, race, and social status. Yet this body of believers are bonded together in the divine bond of Jesus Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) All the members of the Church of Christ share in one Spirit and worship the Lord. (Ephesians 4:3-6) There is only one way to become a member of the Church of Christ and that is to place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The Church did not exist in the Old Testament times, as Jesus said He would establish His Church on the Rock of His Word. “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18) The Old Testament makes no mention of the Church.

The Church of Christ is a distinct entity from the nation of Israel. “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” (Romans 9:6) There is common traits between the nation of Israel and the Church. Both are the people of God, both are part of God’s Spiritual Kingdom, and both receive spiritual blessings from the Abrahamic Covenant. Israel is an earthly political entity. (Exodus 19:5-6) The Church is the invisible spiritual body of Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) Israel is composed of the Israelite people but the Church is made of both Jews and Gentiles. The Jew becomes a Jew by physical birth and one becomes a member of the Church by a new spiritual birth. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Every believer of the Church is baptized into the body of Christ. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) Therefore, the birth of the Church is on the Day of Pentecost, as this is the first day that the Holy Spirit indwelled the believers of Jesus. (Acts 2’ 11:15-16) The Church is built on the foundation of Jesus’ resurrection. “These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 1:19-20)

The birth of the Church was on the Day of Pentecost and from that day forward we have been living in the Church age. The Church age will end when the Church is called out and meets the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) At that time the Great Tribulation will begin and last for seven years, the last week. During this time God will resume His dealings with Israel. (Daniel 9:26-27)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 22, 2017

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