Gene Cunningham - July 28, 2022

But Why a "Tribulation"?

It is my conviction, from simply taking Scripture literally, that the Rapture of the Church occurs at this point, between Matthew 24, verses 8 and 9 (see 1 Thess. 4:13–5:11; 2 Thess. 2:1–8; esp. Rev. 4:1). Jesus does not deal with it here, because the Church is still an unrevealed “mystery” (see Eph. 3:1–10). There are many today who reject the teaching of the Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:13–18), because they think it is a “cowardly” hope of weak Christians to escape the Tribulation. In light of the past 2,000 years of church history, this is a foolish notion. It has been the portion of believers throughout world history to suffer affliction and severe persecution, even to horrible torture and execution. The Church has surely paid her dues. Furthermore, we do not know what trials await us, even in the times of increasing birth-pangs ahead. This message, especially as recorded in Matthew, is very precise in its presentation. Jesus is giving us a very clear, detailed account of how history will unfold prior to His Second Coming. The Tribulation is the time Jeremiah called, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). Note seven reasons the Rapture occurs before His “revelation” to the world (2 Thess. 2:1–8): 1. Because the coming of Jesus Christ and our gathering to Him is cause for comfort from all fear, vv.1–2. 2. The “departure” (better rendering of “falling away”) or Rapture, must precede Antichrist’s coming, v. 3. 3. Antichrist will stand in the rebuilt temple (v. 4), which will not be built until after the Church is gone. 4. Paul refers them back to what he has already taught them about the Rapture, v. 5, see 1 Thess. 4:13–18. 5. The “restrainer” (vv. 6–7) can only be the Holy Spirit indwelling the Church. When the Church is removed, the restraining power departs also. 6. Only “then” (remember, a key word in the Olivet Discourse) will “the lawless one” be revealed, v. 8. This verse accords with Revelation 13, the coming of Antichrist and the false prophet. 7. These points all agree with Paul’s statement in Rom. 11:25 that “blindness in part has happened to Israel until [time limitation] the fullness of the Gentiles has come in [i.e., the Rapture of the Church].”

From Series: "Jesus' Roadmap for the Future"

The Olivet Discourse -- Jesus' Roadmap for the future, is one of the three major discourses (sermons) of Jesus. They include: 1. The Sermon on the Mount/Galilee Discourse (Matthew 5–7) 2. The Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24–25; Mark 13; Luke 21 3. The Upper Room Discourse (John 13–17) Each of these messages is aimed at a specific period of history, which we call a dispensation. They lay out God’s dispensational plan, like a road map, from the time of the crucifixion to the end of time. The Sermon on the Mount was directed to the generation in which Jesus lived and was His platform as King—if Israel would receive Him. Obviously, they rejected Him as their King. However, this will be the basis of Jesus’ administration during the 1,000-year Kingdom Age (Millennium). Then, the Olivet Discourse was aimed at the consequences of Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah, and anticipated the destruction of the nation (70 A.D.) and the final Tribulation period. Remember that the Church Age is an intercalation—meaning an insertion, like a parenthesis, into the Age of Israel. This means that with the Rapture of the Church, the Tribulation picks up where 70 A.D. leaves off. This is why the Church Age is called a “mystery” (Rom. 11:25; 16:25; Eph. 3:1–13; Col. 1:26–27), which is a graduate course to “the principalities and powers in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10). Finally, the Upper Room Discourse was directed toward the Church Age, which began at Pentecost and would continue to the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13–18). The uniqueness of this Age is summarized by Paul’s phrase “in Christ,” and all of the elements involved in what we call “positional truth”—our total union with Christ and the indwelling of His Spirit in us, which occurs nowhere else in history. With the removal of the Body of Christ, the Church, Israel would again become the focus of God’s working on this Earth (Romans 9–11; Revelation 6–19).

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