PRE-WRATH RAPTURE AND DISPENSATIONS
Among pre-tribulationalists, the greatest concern about the pre-wrath rapture position is dispensational compromise. But there is really no need for concern. Biblical dispensationalism is in no way threatened by the pre-wrath rapture of the church. However, one must be certain to let the Bible determine the details of dispensational theology and not be "locked into" a rigidity that is not present in the Bible nor necessary to preserve dispensational distinctions. Such rigidity needs to "bend" in recognition of a transitional period between each dispensation.
There was a transitional period between the age of the "family priest" and the age of Israel. There was a transitional period between Israel and the church at 30 to 70 AD. And there will be a transitional period when God completes His purpose for the Church and returns (as promised) to Israel.
Some have expressed concern that this idea violates dispensations in that God would be dealing with two distinct groups of people two different ways at the same time. However, that is not even what dispensations is all about. It is not a matter of "what" group God is dealing with but rather "how" God is using man to disseminate His viewpoint throughout the world. Dispensations involves the administration of divine truth to the world through different evangelistic agents.
PROPER ORIENTATION TO DISPENSATIONS
The word, "dispensation," is based on the Greek word, oikonomia, which means "an administration" or a performance of responsibility. As it applies to dispensational theology, it refers to how God administrates His truth in the world after sin entered at the fall of Adam.
The dispensations (ages) did not begin until after the fall of Adam (Titus 1:2) and refer to the different human agents God uses to administrate the salvation message to the world. Accordingly, the traditional "age of innocence" is not valid as it precedes "the everlasting times" (Titus 1:2) and the "need" to administrate gospel type information.
Furthermore, since God administrated the salvation message in exactly the same way from Adam until the nation of Israel, that whole period should be viewed as one administration. And since the traditional divisions of "conscience" and "human government" have nothing to do with the administration of the gospel, they are not valid dispensational divisions.
1. Thus, the time period from Adam to Israel is the first dispensation and was administered by various "family priests" who represented divine truth to their respective societies. There was no change in administration of the gospel during this time period. Whether it was before or after the flood, or after Babel, or during the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the administration of the gospel was always the same until God gave the evangelistic commission to Israel at her deliverance from Egypt as stated at Exodus 19:5-6. The establishment of Israel as a nation with the divine commission to be a "kingdom of priests" constitutes the first change in dispensations.
2. Sometimes the dispensation prior to Israel is designated as the age of the Gentile, but that only has significance "looking back" from the time when there are Israelites. At the time that this dispensation was being administered, there were no Israelites. The issue is not in "non-Israelites" being dealt with, but with WHO administrates the gospel. In this case it is the family priest, and since everyone was a "non-Israelite," the designation "age of Gentiles" seems irrelevant.
3. The next change in dispensations must also be based on a change in the administration of the gospel. Here there is usually little dispute. Israel was temporarily set aside and replaced by the Church until the transitional period, during the 70th week of Daniel, just before the establishment of Messiah's physical kingdom on the earth. At that time Israel will once again function as the evangelistic agent and be instrumental in building a remnant of both Jew and Gentiles to enter into Messiah's 1000 year kingdom.
4. The 4th dispensation follows upon the 70th week of Daniel, after a 75 day time of preparation. It will be administered by Christ, His Bride and by those citizens of the kingdom who are believers. The Kingdom dispensation begins with just believers, living in normal physical bodies and functioning as faithful subjects to the King and His Bride. There will still be normal procreation for these citizens and after several years, there will once again be a need for evangelistic activity throughout the world. Even with Christ personally present and reigning in righteousness, there will be many who inwardly rebel against Him.
5. The 5th dispensation is the eternal age, during which truth will be administered by the Godhead, and as finite creatures we will continually be growing up toward greater and greater love and worship of God.
ORIENTATION TO TRANSITIONS
Prior to Israel, it was the family priest who was responsible to represent truth within his society. Then God chose the nation of Israel to function in that capacity. But at the time Israel was chosen and began to function in her priestly capacity, there were still family priests representing truth, such as Jethro, the priest of Midian. Just because God had "created" a special nation to "carry the torch" of truth does not mean He immediately shuts down those "priests" who are still serving.
Israel was chosen by God to be the bearer of His truth (the Messianic promise) but when they rejected the actual personal presence of the Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ, God rejected them (as a nation) and turned to a "spiritual" nation bringing forth the fruits of the kingdom (acceptance of the Messiah). But it is Israel as a "nation" that is rejected - not the Jews. For the new spiritual nation is comprised of both Jew and Gentile, as both are united in one body for the purpose of representing God's truth to the world. What the Jews and the Gentiles enter into during this Church age period is the "spiritual" blessings which had been promised "BEFORE the everlasting times" ( Titus 1:2, Greek). Ie, right after the fall while Adam was still in the garden (Gen. 3:15). It is at this time that "the everlasting times" began, which apparently is a term that refers to human history AFTER the fall.
When God created the nation of Israel via the promises given to Abe, part of the promised blessing was a "physical" kingdom over which Abe's Seed would reign (land, seed, kingdom, Gen. 12:1-3). The spiritual blessing, which is salvation from sin, is extended to all mankind as God proclaimed "in you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gal. 3:8). But since the "nation" rejected the Messiah, only the spiritual blessings are extended, and then, only to those who will accept the Messiah. The physical blessing promised only to the nation of Israel (although the Gentile nations will certainly benefit under Messiah's earthly reign) is postponed and denied to the nation at Messiah's first advent. And yet, any individual can accept Messiah and share in the spiritual blessing (John 1:10-13).
THE DISMISSAL OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL
During the 40 year transition period, God is inviting the citizens of the nation to disassociate from the nation and identify with the Messiah in order to participate in the spiritual blessings and avoid the physical judgment in 70 AD (purpose for the gift of tongues). He was not really "dealing with the nation" but addressing the individuals within the nation.
During this time of transition, there were many believers who were still "of Israel." And although they had recognized in Jesus the fulfillment of the Messianic promise, they had not been joined into "the Church." Believers such as Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), and the disciples of John the Baptizer (Acts 19:1-7).
Now we progress through the church age until the time when God has determined to restore the nation of Israel to its place of promised prestige and give it its long-delayed physical blessings. It is the purpose of the 70 weeks of Daniel to bring the nation to that place where it can enjoy both the spiritual blessings as well as the physical blessings. To the present hour, Israel has only been able to participate in the spiritual blessings, and that, only on a personal, "non-national" basis. But when God's timing initiates the 70th week in order to bring to completion the promises long ago given to Abe, the message to the nation will (again) be one of association with the Messiah. Thus, even then, for Israel to inherit her physical blessings, she must embrace Jesus as the Messiah (Mat. 23:39; Hos. 5:14-15). But before Israel will be "motivated" to embrace Jesus from the standpoint of a "national" testimony, she must endure that time of Jacob's trouble (the Tribulation, the great one) which will entail the oppression of the beast indwelt by Satan. (Hos. 5:15, ...in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.)
Israel was placed under discipline (cycle #5, Lev. 26:27-33) in 605-586 BC and then restored after that. But the Nation still remained under discipline (cycle #4, Lev. 26:23-26) administrated first by Persia, then Greece and finally Rome. She remained under cycle #4 of "national" discipline until it was extended to cycle #5 for the 2nd time in 70 AD (Lev. 26:36-39). She presently remains under cycle #5 and will do so until she is "physically" delivered by Messiah's descent to the earth in connection with the Armageddon campaign, when He will physically judge the nation's enemies and set up His earthly kingdom with Israel as the hub.
Thus, when the 70th week begins, we find Israel still under discipline from God and yet through her own efforts trying to restore herself to the place of proper worship via a temple in Jerusalem. It is at this time that the beast will establish the covenant in the Middle East that will allow Israel to build her temple and engage in her sacrifices. but all this is done without the guidance and blessing of God. The only ones who will have the "moxy" to know what is going on and provide a Messianic witness to the nation, is the Church and the two witnesses who begin their testimony at the midpoint of the 70th week.
That is why we see at Rev. 12, for example, the nation of Israel (faithful to her heritage and trying to worship in her temple) being persecuted by the Beast (after the mid-point of the week, which officially begins the Tribulation) and fleeing into the mountains to avoid beast worship. And why we see, as well, a different group of people than Israel (the woman) also being persecuted by the beast, but identified as those who hold to the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17).
The 70th week provides a transitional period when God will complete his plans for the church (the fullness of the Gentiles comes in) and return to bringing Israel to the place of national blessing. Thus, some time prior to the end of the 70th week (since the tribulation will be cut short, Mat. 24:22) the Lord will return to deliver Israel and restore her to her national favor with God. This is called the Day of the Lord. And it is at this time (6th seal) that the Church will be raptured out and 144,000 Jews (with emphasis on their national identity, i.e., 12 tribes) will trust in Jesus as the Messiah and become the firstfruits of the "nation" to return to God (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:4).
When we place the rapture of the church AT the Day of the LORD return of Jesus as 2 Thess. 2:1-2 demands, there is no compromise of dispensations, no "mixture" of Israel and the church on earth, no violation of any scriptural truth whatever.
Although God has returned to Israel's timetable with the institution of the 70th week of Daniel (her last 7 years), she is still under discipline from God and not functioning as the evangelistic agent. The purpose of the 70th week is to bring Israel back to fellowship with God so she can participate in her national promises and share in the kingdom of Messiah.
The process for bringing her back includes the evangelistic activity
of the church (and the two witnesses) within that 70th week up until the Day of the LORD return
of Jesus when the Church will be removed and the 144,000 will "pick
up the torch" of service and complete the process of national restoration.
İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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