Coming World Crises --Part 12

Coming World Crises
Part 12

James Gunn

These are the notes of lectures given to the Men’s Bible Class which meets every two weeks during the winter at Central Gospel Hall, 25 Charles St. E., Toronto, Canada.

“Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” As a light shining in a dark place, during these lectures prophecy illuminated areas which to the human mind seem quite obscure:

The Future of the Ecumenical Movement.
The Return and the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Future of the Nations.
Europe in Prophecy.
Who is Anti-Christ?
Russia Invades Israel!
Will the Church Go Through the Tribulation?
The Millennial Reign of Christ.
Climax of the Ages.

Will The Church Go Through The Tribulation

When the Hebrew nation reached its zenith during the reign of David God promised, saying to David through Nathan, “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee; thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Sam. 7:16). In his worship and gratitude which followed this promise, David indicates how he understood the promise; he says, “For Thou hast confirmed to thyself Thy people Israel to be a people unto Thee for ever: and Thou, Lord, art become their God. And now, O Lord God, the word that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as Thou has said. And let Thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of Hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of Thy servant David be established before Thee” (2 Sam. 7:24-26).

Although through their sin the Hebrew people lost their national status in A.D. 70, James at the first Church council reveals how the revival of that nation will be accomplished. Making reference to what will follow the Church era, James says, “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down” (Acts 15:16).

The origin and hopes of the Jewish people are national and earthly. Even the disciples of the Lord entertained thoughts of only an earthly kingdom; they asked the Lord, “Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). When Messiah does return to earth, the promise to Mary will be literally fufilled, “Thou …shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

The promises to Abraham, David and Mary must eventually be literally fulfilled: “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:17-18).

It becomes exceedingly clear that Israel in contradistinction to the Church is an earthly people.

The Nations: Inasmuch as time has already been spent in an examination of the nations, it is not necessary to repeat what was discovered of their course, corruption and consummation. Their full power will finally be broken at the Armageddon, and they all will appear at the Judgment of the Living Nations (Matt. 25:31-46) where their future will be decided.

From these references, and many others in the Word of God, it is obvious that the Church is destined for Heaven; Israel to experience a regal and important place on earth, and all the nations to be ultimately chastised and judged by the Lord.

What deeply interests the student of prophesy is the sequence of these and other future events.

The pre-millennial interpretation of prophecy teaches that, first the Church is removed from earth by Christ as the heavenly Bridegroom; second, that the nations are punished under the wrath and judgment of the Lord; third, that converted and exalted Israel shall be the head and not the tail of the nations.

This interpretation of eschatological events indicates that the Church will not suffer the penalty due to apostate Israel for her rejection and crucifixion of her Messiah. Furthermore, it indicates that Christ will remove His Church by means of the rapture before what is called the Great Tribulation.

Israel in History and Prophecy

Israel’s historical departure from the course of excellency that God had planned for her is readily followed by noting her rejection of God in His Triunity.

First, Her rejection of God: Chronologically speaking the history of the Old Testament closes with Nehemiah, but the Old Testament itself ends with 2 Chronicles. In this the last book of the Hebrew Canon there is a very serious indictment against Israel: “Manasseh…built again the high places…and he reared up altars and Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of Heaven, and served them… He caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnon: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger” (2 Chron. 33:16).

Second, Her rejection of Christ: The rejection of Christ and His subsequent crucifixion were charged against the entire nation of Israel by the Apostle Peter when he addressed himself to the leaders of the nation: “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses’ (Acts 3:13-15).

Third, Her rejection of the Holy Spirit: Stephen charged against Israel that they always resisted the Holy Ghost. He summarized his lengthy defence in these words: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51).

In the martyrdom of Stephen we have Israel’s final and full rejection of the God of their fathers.

In regard to Israel’s prophetical restoration, we have numerous divine predictions in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah records the promise of God to His chosen people, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel” (Isa. 27:12). The Lord Himself likewise prophesied of the national restoration; He said, “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory. An He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matt. 24:30-31). There are many other passages which might be taken into consideration (Jer. 12:15; 24:6. Ezek. 20:42; 28:25-26. Zeph. 3:20. Zech. 10:10 and Rom. 11-12-27). It is in connection with the recovery of Israel that we read of the “goodness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22).

Obviously God has dealt in severity with Israel and He will continue so to do until Israel is corrected and purified. The Great Tribulation is God’s means of chastening, correcting and purifying His people as He restores them to Himself.

The Great Tribulation and Israel

There are in the Bible at least five different descriptive ideas of the Great Tribulation. An examination of these reveals the true character of that period and who will actually be involved.

First, the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7): This indicates its objective. This period of grave adversity lies in the future for Israel, the nation that descended from Jacob.

Second, the indignation (Dan. 8:19; 11:36): Its source: God is indignant with His chosen people, the Hebrews, because of their apostasy and because of their rejection of His Son. He is also indignant with all the nations because of their iniquity and idolatry. In His indignation He will punish His people, and this suffering will also involve the world (Rev. 3:10).

Third, a time of unparalleled suffering (Dan. 12:1): Its uniqueness: “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” The Lord Jesus added to this description; He said, “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21).

Fourth, the Great Tribulation (Rev. 17:14): Its character: While there are numerous features belonging to the period called the Great Tribulation, it is evident from the whole tenor of Scripture that it is very extensive, and that it is the result of hostility among men, convulsions in nature and calamities on a vast national and international scale.

Fifth, the consumption (Isa. 10:22- 23): Its purpose: The final divine purpose is to consume the national dross of Israel in righteousness. This, of course, will result in the survival of only a remnant.

The Great Tribulation and the Church

It is clear from how the Word of God describes the Great Tribulation that it has a direct bearing upon Israel. Israel is an earthly nation, and she will experience this unique time of suffering here on earth. Without doubt other nations will be indirectly involved; they also will suffer, but there is no intimation whatever in the Word of God that the Church will be subjected to this trial. See Revelation 3:10.

While this argument of omission is not convincing in itself, there are passages of Scripture which state that the Church will not be on earth at that time. Her deliverance from this ordeal is assured; first, in the gospel, “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9). Second, it is intimated in the expectancy of the early Christians, Paul in writing to the Thessalonians said, “Ye turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to await His Son from the heavens, whom He raised from among the dead, Jesus, our Deliverer from the coming wrath” (1 Thess. 1:10, N.T.). Third, it is also included in a statement of prophecy, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9). Fourth, it is contained in a divine promise, “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev. 3:10).

The Purpose of the Great Tribulation

The purpose of the Great Tribulation apparently is multiple. First, to purge the nation of Israel from its large element of apostasy (Deut. 4:29-30. Isa. 10:22-23; 28:16-22). Second, to prepare the surviving remnant to receive Christ the Messiah (Isa. 53). Third, to chastise all the world for its iniquity and sin (Isa. 6:21). Fourth, to demonstrate the character of divine righteousness (Isa. 10:22). Fifth, to prepare Israel and the world for a reign of absolute righteousness and glory (Mal. 3:1-3).

The Time of the Great Tribulation

Daniel was instructed by Gabriel that seventy weeks (weeks of years) were determined upon his people (Dan. 9:24-27). These seventy weeks form a prophetical schedule of Israel’s future; that is her future from Daniel’s day. When completed, Israel will experience the result of Christ’s atonement. He for her at Calvary “finished the transgression,” her failure to recognize her Messiah. “Make an end of sins,” and “make reconciliation.” The work of atonement before God will be appropriated by the remnant nation. Furthermore, her Messiah, at first rejected but now received, will “bring in everlasting righteousness.” He will seal up as a finished deed the vision and prophesy of national restoration. He will anoint the Most Holy place in the Millenial temple.