Bible Prophecy has been like a game of who’s who for those who loved to puzzle over it—but not a trivial one. We are determining who has been consigned to which destiny. This is the allure of prophecy, to gaze into Scripture as through a rift in time and obtain knowledge of your own future, who you are destined to become, how your role in God’s story will end. But in the enigmatic symbols and language of prophetic visions, this journey to peer through time is shrouded in darkness. Left to personal interpretation, venturing the Book of Revelation is like feeling around in the black of night—do forgive my poetry. I believe the prophecies were written to be understood, and its riddling prophecies easily illuminated with corroborating passages found elsewhere in the very same book. The same book that raises the question is the book that provides the answer. The prophecies have never been a matter of personal interpretation, but as R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries worded it, “It is the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible. It is the Holy Spirit who illumines the Bible.”
2 PETER 1:20-21 — “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
So, let’s dare not to seek an answer in Revelation without first inquiring of the Spirit in prayer and sincerity.
If you’ve read my recent articles, this may look fairly familiar to you, but what I want to concisely present today is a solid, scripturally founded conclusion as to who’s who in Revelation—although, sadly, concisely seems to have eluded me this time (6,000 words). But it is vitally important for anyone who values eschatology. This is only going to be focusing on two groups of people: the pre-tribulation Church and the so-called “Tribulation Saints”.
If you are a fellow Christian, you may be fearing the coming great tribulation, and perhaps wondering why the Bible doesn’t give us any instruction on how to survive or prepare for it. This is our first hint that great tribulation is not the destiny of the Church—tribulation, yes, but nothing great.
JOHN 16:33 — “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
We were never promised great tribulation…
Although… some people seem pretty prepped for it…
If we study Matthew 24 carefully, we find that the “birth pangs” of war, earthquakes, and famines are all counted under that tribulation, from which Christians are promised no immunity. But this tribulation ends to bring forth something greater in terror…
MATTHEW 24:29-31 — “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Tribulation turns into great tribulation at what appears to be the events described in the 6th seal of Revelation.
REVELATION 6:12-17 — “When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
The wrath of God is mentioned here for the first time (twice) in the timeline of Revelation, marking the 6th seal as the official commencement point of wrath. Until the 6th seal, it is only tribulation, which is why the birth pangs and tribulation described in Matthew 24 are parallel to the seals in Revelation opened prior to the 6th seal…
Seal 1: White horse, false christs — “Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” (Matt. 24:5)
Seal 2: Red horse, war — “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars… For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…” (Matt. 24:6,7)
Seal 3: Black horse, famines — “…there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matt. 24:7)
Seal 4: Pale horse, martyrdom — “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matt. 24:9)
You’ll notice in Mathew 24 that Jesus lists the birth pangs in the same order that the first 4 seals are sequenced in Revelation. The tribulation here described with the 4 horsemen can certainly be seen as having already had historical fulfillments, especially in the last century with exponentially increasing measures, which means that the Church has no promise of escaping such things—at least, not until the 6th seal, which is likely the next event on our calendar. I say this because the 6th seal, as indicated in Matthew 24, is the end of tribulation and the start of something worse, something twice called wrath in Revelation’s 6th seal, an event prophesied in the Old Testament as the “Day of the Lord”.
ISAIAH 13:9-13 — “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place…”
Yes, that is the same terrifying series of events that transpire at the 6th seal of Revelation, and I say that Christians will not be on earth during that time because, as Paul says…
1 THESSALONIANS 5:9 — “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The wrath destined for the Church has already been dealt at the crucifixion of Jesus.
The people crying to be hidden from God’s wrath during the 6th seal are everyone on earth — “…the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free…” — which is a clear indication that Christians, being not under God’s wrath, will not even be present on earth at this time. Just as Christ Himself promises His faithful believers…
REVELATION 3:10 — “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”
Between the end of tribulation and the beginning of wrath (great tribulation), something must happen to Christians so that they are not among “those who dwell on the earth” by the time the 6th seal of Revelation is opened.
Obviously, the 6th seal is well before Christ’s coming at Armageddon; in fact, the 7th seal following it is what precipitates the 7 trumpet judgments and 7 bowls of wrath that precede Armageddon. This is why a rapture of the Church at Armageddon makes no sense, unless you think the Church goes straight through the great tribulation, surviving the wrath right alongside the wicked for whom the fire of God’s anger has been kindled. I would call that a total disregard for Christ’s promise to His faithful—an escape prior to this “hour of trial“. As Paul clearly states, the Church is not appointed to wrath. That means it’s gone at—or before—the 6th seal of Revelation, which perfectly explains why the next chapter, between the 6th and 7th seal, shows the Church standing in heaven.
REVELATION 7:9-10 — “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
A rapture before the 7th seal is definitely pre-tribulation.
I think people get confused when they read Matthew 24 because, between the description of birth-pang tribulation and the 6th-seal darkening of the sun, moon, and stars that occurs “after the tribulation of those days”, we find a description of the Abomination of Desolation. We know that this event, the Antichrist standing in the holy place, is deep into the great tribulation, 3 and a 1/2 years before Armageddon — “…it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.” (Revelation 13:5) The Prophet Daniel called it the “abomination of desolation” because this is the event that causes the Jews living in Israel at that time to flee into the desert, which was envisioned in Revelation 12 as the woman fleeing from the dragon into the wilderness “where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.” (Rev. 12:6)
MATTHEW 24:15-21 — ““So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”
That’s definitely after the 6th seal; so why does Matthew 24 list it before? This passage about the Abomination of Desolation between the description of the tribulation (Matt. 24:4-14) and the description of the end of tribulation and the beginning of wrath (Matt. 24:29-31), I think it has to be a break in the chronological structure. This bit about the Antichrist in the middle (15-21) must be a jump in time, because before general “tribulation” ends in verse 29, “great tribulation” has already taken place in verse 21 — “For then there will be great tribulation…”
“Tribulation” is not the same as “great tribulation.”
Once normal “tribulation” ends in Matthew 24, the events of the 6th seal of Revelation are immediately described, which is the “wrath” that we know the Church will not take part in.
To prove this proposed timeline of a pre-tribulation rapture, let me bring up Revelation 12 for what may be our best evidence.
REVELATION 12:1-6 — “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”
As I mentioned already, the woman fleeing here from dragon into the desert for 1,260 days is the same prophecy as that of Jesus in Matthew 24, the Antichrist causing those living in Israel to flee to the mountains in the wilderness. 1,260 days is the same as the 42 months given to the beast to exercise his authority in Revelation 13:5—that’s the final 3 and a 1/2 years leading up to Christ’s coming at Armageddon. But the bigger point I’m trying to make is that of the identity of the “woman” in Revelation 12 who gives birth to the male child. Based on this comparison with the abomination of desolation prophecy in Matthew 24, we know that the woman represents a body of ethnic Jews who are literally living in Israel. This perfectly accords with the symbolism of Revelation 12, because the male child that she brings forth, “who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron”, is Jesus Christ, and that’s obvious to us as Christians; therefore, the woman must represent the physical bloodline that birthed the saviour of the world, which was the Jewish bloodline, just as Jesus’ physical mother was a Jewish virgin from the lineage of King David.
The woman symbolizes the Jews, ethnic Israel—as opposed to spiritual Israel, which is the Church. The dragon that pursues her after giving birth is described as “a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems”, which is parallel to the description of the scarlet beast on which the whore of Babylon rides in Revelation 17 — “…a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.” (Rev. 17:3) The 7 heads of this scarlet beast (red dragon) are later described as 7 mountains—and 7 historical kings—while the 10 horns represent the 10 kings who join with the Antichrist in the end times, the Antichrist himself being represented by one of the 7 heads revived to become an 8th king… My point is that, if the woman and the dragon both symbolize corporate entities, why do we think that the other character in Revelation 12, the male child, symbolizes the single person of Jesus Christ?
It doesn’t. The male child that’s birthed by the woman and narrowly escapes the dragon in a rapture to heaven… is symbolic of the Body of Christ, both Christ and His Church as a single corporate entity. And that’s exactly what the Bible teaches us! The male child is not only a depiction of Jesus Christ, but also all those who are “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17). The Bible is clear that Jesus is only the head of a larger body.
COLOSSIANS 1:18 — “He is the head of the body, the Church…”
ROMANS 12:5 — “…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
1 CORINTHIANS 12:27 — “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
So, when Revelation 12 describes Jesus Christ as a king being birthed to rule the world with a rod of iron, it is depicting the Body of Christ as a whole—that is, Christ and His Church as one corporate entity. The Church is also illustrated in Revelation 12 as the male child, which means the Church will also rule with Christ, a concept corroborated by Jesus’ own words in His message to the Church in Revelation…
REVELATION 2:26-27 — “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.”
REVELATION 12:5 — “She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.”
Yes, the Church is also the male child of Revelation 12.
The original Greek word for “caught up” is “harpazo”, which is rendered in the Latin Vulgate “raptus”, where we derive the modern term “rapture”. The Church is depicted in Revelation 12 being raptured to the throne of God, which explains why it is seen in heaven before the throne in Revelation 7.
REVELATION 7:9-10 — “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…”
That scene takes place between the 6th and 7th seal, which is proof of a pre-6th-seal (or pre-wrath) rapture. Also giving evidence to a pre-wrath rapture is the fact that the male child of Revelation 12, the Body of Christ, is raptured to the throne prior to the dragon’s persecution of the woman—that is, before his mother (ethnic Israel) is persecuted by the Antichrist—reducing the argument for a post-tribulation rapture to nothing.
REVELATION 12:13 — “And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.”
Key word in that passage: “had”—past tense. The birth of the child and his “catching up” to God—the rapture of the Body of Christ into heaven—has already taken place before the woman—ethnic Israel—flees to the wilderness for the final 3 and a 1/2 years.
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s called a pre-tribulation rapture.
We’ve just learned that the Church will be raptured to heaven at or before the opening of the 6th seal of Revelation, which is the next event that we anticipate. According to Paul, we are also waiting for two other events…
2 THESSALONIANS 2:3 — “… that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”
… It can be argued that these two things have already been fulfilled. But that’s not the subject of today’s study.
Now, another question arises: if the male child that’s caught up to God’s throne in Revelation 12 is the same as the redeemed Church standing before God’s throne in Revelation 7, and it’s supposed to be raptured there before the wrath of God begins… why does the elder tell John in Revelation 7 that they are “coming out of the great tribulation”?
REVELATION 7:13-14 — “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
This phrase “coming out of the great tribulation” can either mean 1 of 3 things:
- Spared from entering into the great tribulation.
- Coming out from being in the midst of the great tribulation.
- Going all the way through the great tribulation and coming out the other side.
Only 1 of those can be correct. Is the Church raptured before, amidst, or after the great tribulation? I believe the answer is simple. The last two options can be ruled out with a simple argument:
First, we must ask: when the elder tells John that this countless multitude is coming out of the great tribulation, is he referring to the entire multitude, or just a part of it? Obviously, they’re talking about the multitude that they’re looking at, which is the entire crowd. Now we have to ask the second question: is this multitude the redeemed Church in heaven? Saved from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes…” Yes, I think it’s safe to say this is the Church, finally redeemed and standing in heaven. So, the final question is this: if this countless multitude is the Church, people saved from over the course of the last 2,000 years of Christian history, how many of them do you think went through the great tribulation? Or how many of them, Christians gathered from throughout centuries of history, have just come out from amidst the great tribulation? The great tribulation hasn’t even begun in our lifetime, and already, most of the Christians in this countless multitude are dead! The majority of that countless multitude were dead long before the last generation was even conceived! All of our dead friends and relatives in Christ are going to be among those envisioned by John in that countless multitude, and they never set so much as one toe in the great tribulation.
To conclude, when the elder tells John that this great countless multitude is “coming out of the great tribulation”, he can only mean that it was spared from ever going into it. They were exempt from it. They weren’t raptured from the middle of it, nor at the end of it, but placed in the heavenly throne room before the great tribulation even began.
And this is exactly what Jesus Himself promised His faithful.
REVELATION 3:10 — “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”
Hear that? The Church is to be kept from that terrible hour in history, not brought partway into it, and not all the way through it. Consider that in regard to this passage…
2 PETER 2:5-9 — “If God did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from TRIALS (the “hour of trial”, Rev. 3:10) and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…”
This “hour of trial” when the wicked are punished is no doubt the start of the Day of the Lord, the beginning of God’s wrath on earth. And what has the Church to do with wrath? Did we not read earlier, “God has not destined us for wrath”? (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
This is the “day of trouble” alluded to by the psalmist, when the righteous will be hidden above…
PSALM 27:5 — “For He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of his tent; He will lift me high upon a rock.”
Following the awakening of the dead in Christ worldwide, all of us who are alive will be changed and brought together with them into the presence of Jesus, the Bridegroom, when the Church and Bride of Christ then departs to the wedding chambers that He has been preparing for us — “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3) After the Church has been taken—after the 5 wise virgins have gone out to meet the Bridegroom and entered into the wedding banquet with him (Matt. 25:1-13)—then the wrath of God will begin for everyone remaining on earth, both the unbelievers and hypocrites alike.
ISAIAH 26:19-21 — “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath has passed by. For behold, YHWH is coming out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity…”
Rapture of the Church, the Bride hidden in heavenly chambers, wrath on earth—that’s the order of events given in Isaiah. Knowing that wrath begins at the 6th seal of Revelation, which is the next event, we find the pre-tribulation rapture fully supported by the Old and New Testament when read in tandem.
Having already addressed the countless multitude in Revelation 7 and who they are, let’s contrast that with the other group of people addressed in the same chapter. Revelation 7 starts by telling us of 144,000 people “from every tribe of the sons of Israel”, and, as if knowing there would be some confusion as to whether this is literal or allegorical language, it lists each of the extant tribes of ancient Israel by name:
REVELATION 7:5-8 — “12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.”
12,000 from each of the 12 tribes are sealed, amounting to the precise number of 144,000, which stands in stark contrast to the countless multitude afterwards mentioned — “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages…” (Rev. 7:9)
144,000 Jews from the 12 extant tribes of ancient Israel is very different than an uncountable multitude from every nation on earth.
These two crowds mentioned in Revelation 7 are virtually opposite of each other. One is strictly Jewish with a precise number, and the other is from every race on earth with a number that no man can count.
If the countless multitude is the finally redeemed Church standing in heaven… why are 144,000 Jews from the 12 extant tribes of Israel being prepared with the seal of God in the very same chapter? Because while the Church has at this point been raptured—between the 6th and 7th seal—the Jews are about to be put through the fiery trials of the great tribulation, where 144,000 specially anointed Jews will be ministering the gospel of Yeshua HaMashiach—Jesus Christ, their true Messiah—and setting in motion the final Messianic awakening of the Jews.
This is one of the primary purposes of the great tribulation! The Church has nothing to do with this! There is no reason whatsoever that Jesus-worshipping Christians need to go through this period at the end of the age. God is doing this to fulfill the outstanding prophecy of Daniel’s 70th week, the final yet-unfulfilled 7 years, in which God’s attention returns to the Jews after the rapture of the Church — “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.” (Dan. 9:24) There is one more “week” (7 years) left to be fulfilled. Paul says in Romans 11 that ethnic Jews are still “beloved for the sake of their forefathers”, meaning that God still loves the Jews as a physical nation and has certain promises to keep to them that don’t involve the Church.
And if you doubt that…
ROMANS 11:1-5, 11-12, 15-16, 25-31 — “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’ But what is God’s reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace…
“So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
“… For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches…
“Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob; and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.”
Yes, while Revelation 7 places the Church in heaven, 144,000 Jews are being prepared and anointed to minister to the Jews through severe earthly trials; and we know that the 144,000 are all on earth during the great tribulation because the locusts that ascend from the bottomless pit in Revelation 9 are specifically commanded to hurt everyone except for them — “They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” (Rev. 9:4) Yes, that refers to the 144,000, who had previously been sealed on their foreheads — “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel…” (Rev. 7:3-4) While the whole earth is plagued by God’s punishments, these 144,000—and I’m assuming also whichever of the Jews repent and believe in Jesus—will be spared and protected.
These are the “Tribulation Saints”.
The Church has nothing to do with Daniel’s 70th week, the time of Jacob’s trouble — “How awful that day will be! No other will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.” (Jer. 30:7) The tribulation saints are all Jews who are coming to Christ through the refining trials of the great tribulation, like wheat that needs a hard beating on the threshing floor, whereas the earlier barley harvest, which comes first in Israel’s seasonal harvests, needs only a gentle winnowing in the wind to be separated from its chaff—that is to say that Christians are sanctified by the gentle motions of the Holy Spirit on their souls. The Church needs no Antichrist; it has already chosen the true Christ! We will see Antichrist, but his plans against Christians will fail when the Church is raptured, just as the dragon in Revelation 12 misses his moment to devour the male child as it’s caught up to God… and thereafter begins to pursue the woman who bore the child, the Jews, the great tribulation, the final persecution. Romans 11 clearly tells us that God has a plan to graft the natural branches back into the olive tree!
ROMANS 11:23-24 — “And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.“
The dragon—the Antichrist—is robbed of his dinner by the rapture of the Body of Christ, who he had been salivating to devour in the days leading up to its completion, and then seeks in his destructive appetite to consume those of the people of God that remain.
REVELATION 12:4-6 — “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”
During this post-rapture tribulation, the Jews are protected by God and nourished with the gospel of Jesus Christ in the wilderness, where they flee after the abomination of desolation — “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Matt. 24:15-16)
The Antichrist also pursues the other child that the woman gives birth to after the Church…
REVELATION 12:17 — “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
The woman just gave birth to the Church… and now she has more offspring? Of course she does, because the “child” of the Jews is a corporate expression of those who convert to Christ, from the Law of Moses to the New Covenant of faith in Jesus. As I said, the 144,000, along with the 2 witnesses, will be bringing about a massive Messianic awakening among the Jews, and this is what the great tribulation is all for, God’s extended patience and mercy toward those who are “beloved for the sake of their forefathers” — “I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a PARTIAL hardening has come upon Israel, UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in THIS way ALL Israel will be saved.” (Rom. 11:25-26)
No other view of the great tribulation accords with these scriptures.
MICAH 5:3 — “Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.”
What? When who is in labor? “She“? Yes, she. The woman, the Jews, ethnic Israel. The one she gives birth to is the Church, as in the birth of the male child in Revelation 12, which is depicted as being “caught up to God and to His throne”—the rapture. That prophecy in Micah is plainly telling us that the “partial hardening” of the Jews will only last as long as until the Church is raptured—at the start of the great tribulation!
ISAIAH 66:7-8 — “Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.“
How I love seeing a puzzle come together.
Yes, in plain speak, our dear Isaiah is telling us that the Church, which the Jews were destined to bring forth—”pregnant”, as it were, with the Messiah Jesus and His Body—is going to be fully born and raptured prior to the time when the Jews go into “labour”, that painful final period known as the great tribulation. See, it is only for the Jews, and is preceded by the Church being “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev. 12:5)—and that, my friends, is why Revelation 7 has a countless multitude appearing before the throne in heaven as early as before the 7th seal, because wrath has only just begun at the 6th seal just before it (Isaiah 13:9-13), “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Thess. 5:9)
Amen to that!