This is a popular subject as of late – and the reason why is simple. I think Christians sense that the time may be drawing nigh. There’s a million blogs which fall into about 4 different interpretations. The ONLY position which makes a distinction between Israel and the churches, is dispensational, and is literalist (takes the Bible literally) is…
To place “The Church” in the middle of the Tribulation, indeed, anywhere after Revelation 4, has to confuse or replace Israel with “the Church”. I always say it this way because the number of references in the Bible to the word “Church” identifies the word church to a local, visible entity. There is only one verse which can be interpreted either way. Since the Bible is careful to identify the church as a local institution, and uses the title “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” to refer to all believers as a group… I do the same.
“The church” is not Israel. Israel is Israel. The church is a local institution of assembled, born again believers that may be Jewish (usually the minority) or Gentile (usually the overwhelming majority). Gentile Christians are grafted INTO believing Israel, but do not REPLACE believing Israel. I could write a very long and very confusing series of articles on this issue – confusing because I’d have to use English, which is pretty slippery, to write it. Now if I wrote it in Koine Greek, it would be a lot more specific, but then only a handful of people could read it. And my Koine is pretty rusty, as my classes in it were 5 years ago.
How can I write these things?
1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. Revelation 7:1-3 (KJV)
This happens really early on in the Tribulation. Who is the servants of God? Some people say this is “The Church” because it refers to the servants of our God.
4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. 9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. Revelation 7:4-12 (KJV)
These are… Jews. The first reference to believers after Revelation 4 is a description of Jews. What tribe are you from? That’s the question I ask any Gentile who tries to appropriate this for themselves. It’s stumped a few Jehovah’s Witnesses, by the way.
Let’s look at the Immanency issue. The Rapture is imminent. To say it comes at (X) point in the Tribulation means we can… pretty much guesstimate it’s time. “No man knows the day or hour” is what the Bible says. So if you say it’s midpoint – Voila, it’s 3.5 Jewish years after the signing of the peace treaty, Ta-Da! I know the day and hour. That rules it out from being the time of the Rapture.
If it was the third seal, then it’s roughly three months times 3 after the peace treaty – nine months later. Sixth Trumpet? It would be roughly 39 months after the peace treaty.
How about the two doors? A door opens in heaven in Revelation 4:1, and does not re-open until Christ returns to earth. Open door number 1 – the Rapture. Open Door number 2 – the return.
The word “Church” is used many times in Revelation 1-3. It disappears in Revelation 4 and is not seen again until after the Lord has returned to the Earth.
John is a type of the Christian in Revelation. HE gets Raptured in Revelation 4:1, and accompanies the Lord on His way back to the Earth. If John gets raptured at that time, why are we any different?
We are told to look for the Rapture and the Return of Christ. We are never told to look for the Antichrist.
Finally (this is a quick article, I’ve written much longer articles on the Rapture previously, loaded with information) there is no resurrection of the dead mentioned in any point of Revelation until the Judgment. So either it’s post-trib (which explains nothing) or it’s pre-trib.
I’ve written MUCH longer articles on this subject in the past! Just click on the Rapture category, and keep scrolling down and sooner or later, you’ll reach the first one. By the time you’ve read every article on it… you’ll be convinced, or really sleepy, because it’s going to take a LONG time to get through all those articles.