One of the foundational arguments for the Pretribulational rapture is concerning the relationship between National Israel and the Church. It’s based on Daniel 9:24-27 where we find the so called 70 weeks prophecy. This prophecy is where we get the concept of a future 7-year period, in which the majority of the end times events take place.
This prophecy in Daniel is about the future of Israel, the “weeks” (as in the 70 weeks prophecy) are understood to mean groups of seven years. So, 70 weeks would be 70 groups of seven years, which works out to 490 years.
In Daniel, these 70 weeks are divided with the first 69 weeks having been fulfilled in the past, and the final week, the final 7-year period, still awaiting fulfilment in the future.
And that during the gap, between the first 69 weeks and the final week, there has been something like 2,000 years and counting. This gap of time that we are currently in is commonly referred to as the Church Age.
Most of the proponents of the various rapture positions we have mentioned in this film like Pretrib, Posttrib, and Prewrath all agree on the basics of this prophecy—that there is a future 7-year period in which the end times events will primarily play out, and that the 7-year period will culminate with God fulfilling His promises to National Israel.
Alan Hultberg: “I think the scriptures are very clear in that God has a future for Israel and that that future is going to be culminated in the millennial reign of Christ on Earth after His return.”
Pretribulationists, however, have proposed a unique interpretation of this prophecy which supports their view of the rapture.
The theory is that God does not work with Israel and the Church at the same time; they insist that a hard distinction must be made here. That God has completely and totally paused his dealings with National Israel during the Church Age.
Prewrath takes a similar view, with the difference being that Prewrath teaches that God has only relatively postponed his dealings with Israel during this Church Age, not absolutely, and that God can, and has worked with both the Church and Israel during the Church Age, and that He will continue to do so in the final 7-year period.
The reason Pretribbers are so insistent that God will absolutely not work with the Church and Israel at the same time, is because they use that particular idea in one of their arguments for the Pretrib rapture.
Which is that since the 70 weeks prophecy was made
to Israel , and is
about Israe l, and since the time between those two sections of the 70 weeks is the Church Age, they say that when the clock starts on this prophecy again, it will be all about Israel, and so the Church must be raptured before it begins.
Alan Kurschner: “They'll say that God doesn't work with Israel and the Church at the same time. [They say that] ‘Israel is going to be part of the seven-year period. Therefore, the Church cannot be part of the 7-year period.’”
Alan Hultberg: “The assumption is that God cannot deal with Israel and the Church at the same time. And so, [they also assume that] since Daniel’s 70th Week was part of God's dealing with Israel, the Church must not be on earth when Daniel’s 70th Week begins.”
Let’s start with their premise that because this 70-weeks prophecy was made to and concerning Israel; that the Church will not have any part in its fulfilment.
One great way to show the complete inconsistency of Pretribulational thinking here is by turning to Jeremiah 31:31-34 where we see a prophecy that in many ways is just like the 70 weeks prophecy. For example, it was explicitly given to Israel and was concerning only Israel. (For example, it says: “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah”) and like the 70 weeks prophecy is was given at a time when the Church didn’t even exist.
But in this case, nearly every Christian agrees that this prophecy applies to the Church, as well, as it is talking about the New Covenant instituted by Christ in which the Spirit of God will dwell within the hearts of man and change them from the inside out.
Before I show more evidence that this idea is wrong, I would like you to notice that this critical doctrine among Pretribulationists that God does not, will not work with Israel and the Church at the same time has no actual prooftexts like other doctrines do. It is merely an assumption among Pretribulationists, and worse, it’s an assumption that they routinely abandon when it suits them.
Take for example, the so-called “Tribulation Saints” idea. Whenever a Pretribber reads in the Bible about Christians existing within the last 7-year period (which is a very frequent occurrence) they call those people Tribulation Saints, people of various nationalities left behind after the rapture who become Christians. Well if God won’t work with the Church and Israel at the same time, how to they explain these Tribulation Saints? Are they not saved? Do they not have the Holy Spirit? Are the Gentile believers among them not the Church? Is God not working with them because He won’t work with them and the Jews at the same time?
To drive the nail in the coffin of this unbiblical doctrine that God won’t work with Israel and the Church at the same time, let me simply show you lots of places where the Bible says God works with both groups in the past, in the present, and in the future.
God worked with Israel during the Church Age in AD 70. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, during the Old Covenant dispensation, a prophecy was
given to Israel concerning God judging Israel with the Temple’s destruction.
Alan Kurschner: “Jesus, on a number of occasions, He prophesied the judgment on Israel. When did that happen? In A.D. 70.”
God is also working with both the Church and Israel at the same time in present, in at least two ways. The first is that God is making Israel jealous and saving a remnant of Jews during the Church Age.
Paul cites the following prophecy about God making Israel jealous through extending His salvation to the Gentiles:
“But again, I ask, didn’t Israel understand? First Moses says, ‘I will make you jealous by those who are not a nation; with a senseless nation I will provoke you to anger.’ And Isaiah is even bold enough to say, ‘I was found by those who did not seek me; I became well known to those who did not ask for Me.’”
Paul responds to Moses’ and Isaiah’s prophecies exclaiming God’s faithfulness to His promise to Israel:
“I ask then, they did not stumble into an irrevocable fall, did they? Absolutely not! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous... For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”
God is using the salvation of Gentiles as a means to provoke Israel to come to salvation, and He is in fact saving a remnant through those means at this time.
Ryan Habbena: “If we look at the last two thousand years plus, God has been dealing with Israel and the Church at the same time. The Church defined as the assembly of the Lord of both Jew and Gentile, God has the gospel going out and He is gathering the constituents of His kingdom—and He has been doing that. But Israel is still His chosen nation, still His people. They are still under discipline. There still is a remnant being saved.”
The other way God is working with Israel in the present age is by God regathering Israel back to their homeland.
A key aspect to this would be the monumental event of the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948. God has been—and continues to this day—providentially regathering Jews to their homeland, Israel.
The prophet Ezekiel prophesied that this would happen in his “dry bones” prophecy in Ezekiel 37:1-14.
Alan Kurschner: “In 1948, Israel became a nation again. It’s fulfilling... these are the dry bones, of course. The flesh, the flesh part of the prophecy has not been fulfilled. That's going to be the spiritual regeneration of Israel. That will happen at the end of the 7-year period. But the “dry bones” part of the Ezekiel prophecy—by the way, Ezekiel’s prophecy was made to Israel, but it's being fulfilled during the Church Age.”
This next one cuts to the very core of the matter, since if you can show that God in the future, works with both Israel and the Church, specifically during the final 7-year period, you have refuted the very foundation of this odd doctrine. And while there are many ways to show this, there is one in particular that I like the best since it is so ironclad. And it is found in Revelation 12 which says:
“But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 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.” (Rev. 12:12-17).
Here we have a picture of events squarely within the last 7-year period, and yet we read that after the dragon becomes furious at his inability to get to the representative of Israel i.e., the woman, he then goes after the Church i.e., those that hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Both groups are obviously on earth at the same time, and obviously during the final week of Daniel because of the reference so the last 3.5 years in verse 14. So, it follows that God is, in fact, working with both groups at the same time in the end times, as well.
Alan Kurschner: “God works with Israel and the Church at the same time in the past and in the present. So, it shouldn't be surprising that the Church will also enter into (with Israel) this future 7-year period. The Antichrist is going to go after both groups, not just Israel but Israel and the Church during the Great Tribulation.”