My intention in this series of posts is to gather as many biblical proofs as I can regarding a pre-Tribulation rapture, thus to show that it is positively the correct view. I have put together 19 reasons why the Pre-Tribulation rapture is the correct view, and am presenting it to you in 7 parts. Here is the second installment.
3. The church and Israel are two distinct entities.
If we can prove that Israel and the church are two distinct groups of people with two distinct programs, then we have a firm basis to believe that the church will not go through the tribulation, since the Tribulation is a time of Jacob’s trouble.
The problem is that many these days hold that the church has become the new or true Israel, or as Galatians 6:16 puts it, the “Israel of God.” So they (Preterits) would say that the church has become the true Israel and therefore will inherit all of Israel’s promises from God—not only the spiritual promises, but also national promises. And their reasoning is that since Israel has rejected God, God in turn has rejected Israel and has replaced Israel with the church.
Well, it is true that Israel as a nation has rejected God and Jesus; however He has not rejected Israel. If you have any doubts about this, listen to what He has said through Jeremiah the prophet, from Jeremiah 31:35-37:
Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for light by day,
And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar;
The Lord of hosts is His name:
36 “If this fixed order departs
From before Me,” declares the Lord,
“Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”
37 Thus says the Lord,
“If the heavens above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel
For all that they have done,” declares the Lord.
Also, Paul, in Romans 11:1-2a said,
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.
Now, as we read in Romans 11:17-23, because Israel has rejected God, some of her branches were broken off and replaced by Gentile branches (the church). But this grafting in is only temporary and spiritual; and as verse 18 indicates, the church is not the root, only the branch. Israel is still the root; and soon, as verse 23 indicates, God will graft her branches back again, when she believes. Yes, Israel will someday believe. During the Tribulation, and especially when He returns and they see Him, they will repent and believe (Rom. 11:26).
Also, it is quite clear, just by reading the scriptures that Israel and the church are two distinct entities. Israel is obviously distinctive because of her race—a descendant from Abraham; but they are also unique because they were chosen by God and given special promises—spiritual and national promises. Many of these promises are yet to be fulfilled, but will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom.
The church also has distinctive. The church, unlike Israel, has no particular race or nationality. This group of people were unheard of in the Old Testament, and didn’t come about until after the death and resurrection of Christ. The mysterious character of the church lies in the mystery that Christ and the Holy Spirit indwells its members; and all of its members together are called the bride of Christ and the body of Christ, of which He is the husband and the head.
The bottom line is that if you are able to see that Israel and the church are two distinct groups with two distinct and different programs, then you must treat them that way. We cannot combine them into one group of people. True, the church does consist of both Jews and Gentiles; however, the Jewish people as a nation are unbelievers and therefore will go through the Tribulation. Then, at the end, all the Jewish survivors will be saved, and will follow Christ, in their mortal bodies, into the millennial kingdom. The church, on the other hand, are all believers and will be raptured before the Tribulation. Then after the Tribulation, they will rule and reign with Christ in the kingdom in their glorified bodies.