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Revelation 3:10 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:51 mins 27 secs

When Will the Rapture Occur?


Literal interpretation


 David L. Cooper's definition: "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense. Therefore take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise. " Dr Ryrie: "If you are not consistently applying the rule of literal interpretation you are going to end up in amillennialism or post-millennialism or post-Tribulationism." That is why we believe that this is the foundation for understanding the pre-Tribulation Rapture and God's plan for the future. 


The next element in the foundation is pre-millennialism, the view that Jesus Christ is going to return before the Millennial kingdom, the 1000-year rule and reign of Jesus Christ known as the Messianic kingdom. Or, if we look at it from the Old Testament viewpoint, that Jesus Christ returns before the kingdom sets in.


The next is futurism. Futurism means that what we believe are prophecies in the Scripture—Matthew chapter 24, known as the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation chapters 4-19—are all future events. None of this describes something historical or something that is going on today.


Then there is the distinction between Israel and the church. This is so foundational. We are not Jews; we are not under the Mosaic law. God has a different plan and purpose for Israel than He does for church age believers. Romans 11:25 summarizes: "For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." Once the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, then that blindness is going to be reversed. Verses 26, 27: "And so [thus, at that time] all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." This is a specific future plan for Israel which is distinct from the plan of the church.


That leads us to the next important area of understanding, which is that God's plan for Israel involves it being the heads and not the tail. Isaiah 2 talks about the fact that in the kingdom all the nations will come to the temple, to the mountain, to worship God together. Everyone in the world will go to Jerusalem where the worship of God will be centered because it is a Jewish kingdom, a Davidic kingdom. God's plan for Israel involves it being the head, not the tail, and ruling over the nations during the Millennial kingdom; whereas God's plan for the church involves a cadre of saved Jews and Gentiles who are now church age believers who will rule and reign with Him in the kingdom.


What are the purpose of the Tribulation? Four purposes for the Tribulation help us to understand this distinction between Israel and the church.

1)  The purpose of the Tribulation is to execute judgment on the wicked and on the rebellious nations who have both rejected Christ and rejected Israel. This is the great judgment on anti-Semitism. It is the culmination of judgments in history on unbelievers.

2)  It is there to demonstrate the inability of Satan to rule the planet. Satan wants to rule everything, he wants to be like God. To be God he has to have peace and prosperity and order, and everything has to be functioning very smoothly. But as L.S. Chafer pointed out many years ago, all of the evil and suffering and pain and death and chaos and wars, are simply testimony to the fact that Satan can't rule his kingdom very well. He can't bring peace in, though he is going to try.

3)  It will provide a time for millions to be saved. Most of these rejected the gospel prior to the Tribulation and now they get one last chance. They have to go through the wrath of the Tribulation but there will be millions saved.

4)  It is a time of preparation for Israel's restoration and conversion. This is one of the most important aspects of the Tribulation, which is Jewish in its emphasis: "The time of Jacob's trouble," Jacob being a term used for Israel when they are operating according to the flesh and not following God.


These fourfold purposes for the Tribulation indicate that it is something that is distinctive for Israel, not the church. We must keep that distinction in mind.


Daniel's seventieth week is one of the most remarkable prophecies in all of Scripture. The detail is extraordinary. It is foundational to so many different doctrines that we have to understand. It is given in Daniel chapter nine, vv. 24ff.:


Dan 9:24  NASB "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy {place.}"

This is Second Coming fulfillment; none of it has been fulfilled yet.

Dan 9:25 NASB"So you are to know and discern {that} from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince {there will be} seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress."

Seventy weeks would be 490 days, but this is really not talking about days here. The text says seventy periods of seven, not seventy weeks. So is this days, weeks, or years? This is years, so it is 490 years. From the issuing of the decree until Messiah the Prince there are going to be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks = 69 weeks. So there is one week short. That is why we talk about Daniel's seventieth week, we are one week short. The last week would be the Tribulation. 

Dan 9:26 NASB"Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end {will come} with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined."

The Messiah was cut off at the crucifixion. The destruction of the city and the sanctuary occurred in AD 70 under Titus, after the Messiah is crucified. Titus was the prince; his people were the Romans. That tells us that part of this end-times scenario is going to relate to some sort of Roman hegemony or revived Roman empire. Remember, we still have seven years of that last "week" to come. Verse 27 describes it.

Dan 9:27 NASB"And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations {will come} one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."

The "he" is the prince of the people who are to come. So somebody comes out of the old Roman empire and he makes a contract or peace treaty with the many, the Jews. But in the middle of the week "he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering." That tells us that there is a temple rebuilt in Jerusalem on the temple mount during the Tribulation period, and that the old Levitical priesthood, the sacrifices, and all that, will be resurrected and will be operational. Remember, they are unregenerate at that time. Half way through the Tribulation the Antichrist will put a stop to all of that. He is going to dominate and desecrate the temple for the last three and a half years. This is what Jesus warned about in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24.

Four options in history have been set forth for that decree. It is the second decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus, which is given in 444 BC. It was the decree given to Nehemiah to go back and finish rebuilding the city and to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem to protect them from their enemies. So we know exactly when that took place. All of this is related to the sanctuary.

The decree took place on March 4th, 444 BC, when Artaxerxes told Nehemiah to go back and rebuild the walls. If we take the 7 and the 62 and add them together we get 69 weeks for Messiah the Prince to show up. On March 30th, AD 33 was the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, according to Luke 19:28-40. That all has to do with Israel. But 490 years were decreed and we only have 483 years to this point. If we multiply that out we have 173,880 days. That is on 360-day years. They operated on a lunar calendar, 30-day months. Form March 4th, 444 BC to March 30th, 33 AD is 173,880 days. So God is precise. He is able to foretell to the minute when this would happen, when Messiah the Prince would enter into Jerusalem. And it is at that point that the timetable stopped. There is the church age after that but there is still this seven-year period hanging. Who is it for? According to Daniel chapter nine it is for "your people and your city." It is for the Jews. When we come to the Tribulation and we talk about this distinction between the church and Israel it is important, because that seven-year period has a specific purpose for Israel. There has to be a shift back to an emphasis on Israel, the temple, all of those things, and it is then that God, having brought the Gentiles to their fullness, is going to come back to Israel, and all Israel will be saved, according to Romans chapter eleven.