by Charles Clough
History is a sequence of things that refute man’s excuses and displays man’s depravity. The final milestones of Israel. Resurrection is either to damnation or blessing and is fixed forever, without conversion. Themes common to the church. The Rapture of the church.
Series:Chapter 5 – The Destiny of the Church
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 59 secs

© Charles A. Clough 2003

Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003

Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 5 – The Destiny of the Church

Lesson 211 – Israel Contrasted with Themes Unique to Church History: Pentecost to the Rapture

03 Jan 2003
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD

Since we’re going to start into the first scheme that has been promulgated in Christian circles to tie the church’s end in with the end of history, I want to review before we go further because I don’t want you to lose the forest for the trees. There’s a way to think about eschatology and there are certain basic principles that you want to keep reviewing in your mind. If you don’t, you’re going to lose it because when we get into the detailed verses you’re going to throw up your hands and say this is hopeless. Let’s keep it as simple as we can.

Israel’s Historical Existence

Leviticus 26

Deuteronomy 28

Deuteronomy 30

Deuteronomy 32



Discipline & exile

(includes both Babylonian & Roman conquests)





Judgment (of nations) / salvation (of Israel)




Ultimate enjoyment of blessings in the land




Table 8. Divine outline of Israel’s historical existence. God’s covenants control how Israel’s experience is to be interpreted.

Table 8 gives you the outline of history through Israel. That table is very important because it is Mosaic; it is what Moses in the very beginning hours of the nation’s existence, it gives what God told Moses was an outline of Israel’s history. You’ll see on the Table the origin, looking at each of the rows; those are stages in Israel’s history. Everything else, all the details, all the innumerable verses, all the expansion of prophecies are just filling in details in this table. That’s the way you want to think about it. The origin of the nation Israel, the discipline and exile, the idea that Israel would be disciplined as a nation, and one of the overt signs of the discipline happening was be that the nation would be exiled, meaning it would leave the land. If you think back to the origin of Israel it comes out of the Abrahamic Covenant. There are three promises in the Abrahamic Covenant: land, seed, and worldwide blessing. Over and over again that’s the structure of the Old Testament.

There is a land, a piece of real estate that God has picked out and that is the place He’s going to put His Temple. It’s not North America, it’s not South America, it’s not Africa, it is at the crossroads of the Afro-Asian continent. That is where God set up His nation, that is where Jesus Christ was born, that is where Jesus Christ died, that is where Jesus Christ is going to come back again, and that is where the Temple is going to be. So that piece of real estate is very, very important. The origin of Israel is centered in a place. The origin of Israel means that it’s a nation, a group of people that have a national structure, which means that it has a law code that encompasses all the subjects of a society. Then we have the discipline of going into exile but that’s not the end of the story.

Then there would be a judgment of nations. Let’s relate the judgment of nations, we talked about the discipline and exile, they’d be booted out of the land temporarily. That’s a sign of their discipline; they will be disciplined as a nation. The third row on Table 8 is there will be a judgment of the nations of the world. In context let’s think about that because that comes up in prophecy in much detail in the New Testament, the Book of Revelation. Why is there going to be a judgment of nations? Go back to Moses’ time; what’s the purpose of the judgment of nations? What’s the purpose of Israel’s starting in history? Because the nations had paganized, they had fallen away from the revelation that they had received from Noah, Noah’s wife and Noah’s three sons. When all the people groups of the nation spread out from Mount Ararat they carried with them part of the Bible, and the part of the Bible they carried with them was the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

So every people group somewhere in their past has been exposed to the Word of God. They might have forgotten it, it might be covered up with myths, but if you’re a missionary and you’re going into a primitive tribe it’s almost mandatory for your own mental attitude that you understand you’re not bringing truth to these people that is a western gospel, a white-man’s gospel, some recent thing that these people have never even touched before. Oh yes they have, culturally speaking. Aren’t they derivatives of Noah? Aren’t they part of the family of Noah? Of course they are. Well then their great, great, great, great, great grandparents must have had the truth. This becomes important in your own mental attitude in working through this, that you go back as far as you can to the roots and relate the gospel to their own memory of that gospel, not to the white man’s. It’s not a white man’s imposition.

The judgment of nations is because they’ve apostatized. You have Israel and when Israel, the second row on Table 8, the discipline and the exile, who were the agents for the discipline and exile. In Israel, when Israel was booted out of the land who were the human agencies that was God’s hand to discipline His nation? The Babylonians, the Assyrians, Medo-Persia, etc. If that’s the case, then God uses human instruments to discipline His nation. The problem is that those nations He’s using are unbelieving nations who can draw the wrong conclusion, and do, namely that their pagan gods are greater than Yahweh the God of Israel, because obviously they’re victorious over Israel. So they get arrogant, they always get arrogant; every one of Israel’s enemies always winds up in their downfall of getting too arrogant. Hitler got arrogant and what happened to the Third Reich?

Every nation that comes up against Israel finally, because of the Abraham, what does He say, “he that curses you I will curse them.” That’s a law of history; you can see it play out over and over and over again. The judgment of nation is going to happen in the future because in the future the nations gang up on Israel. So the reason you have a judgment of nations is because of their abuse of the nation Israel.

Notice something which we have not said so far on row number 1, row number 2, and row number 3 of Table 8. We haven’t mentioned the church. The discipline and exile of Israel has nothing to do with the church. The judgment of the nations has nothing to do with the church. Now coming to the last row of Table 8, the “ultimate enjoyment of blessings in the land,” that’s not the church either, that’s Israel. And that’s the final chapter of history. Table 8 gives you all of the outline of history and the church is missing completely from that outline.

You’ve got to start here because this is where it starts in the Old Testament. Don’t worry about the New Testament, the New Testament will come, but understand from the viewpoint of Moses and how God ordained that history would be a pattern, and the reason why there has to be a coming Kingdom centered with God’s Temple in the land is because that’s the destiny of the human race. Each one of these ages is going to teach us something. All these dispensations and ages have a purpose pedagogically. God administers history pedagogically, there’s a lesson plan.

Think about it for a minute. Before the fall did man live in a perfect environment? Yes. Did man sin in a perfect environment? Yes. So that lesson teaches us and should politically immunize us against any politician or political program that says the problem with man is his environment. If the problem with man is his environment what do you do about the pre-fall existence in Eden? Then we have a period from the fall of man all down through the antediluvian age, to the flood. Was there capital punishment in that period administered by government? No. Was there any such thing as civil government? No. So you hear it today said that capital punishment, there’s a problem, it’s causing a problem. What caused all the sin prior to the flood, capital punishment wasn’t even there? What was the rule prior to the Flood? The conscience of man, that’s what man knew of God’s rules and everybody did their own thing; we saw where that got us.

Then we come down to the civilization that we know today, coming out from the sons of Noah, becoming all people groups. Did they start out with the Word of God? Yes. Did they start out with the great promise? Yes. Did they have a purpose for their life? Absolutely! So what was the problem? Sin again; man rebelled in the perfect environment, man rebelled with his conscience only, man rebelled with his conscience plus civil government.

Then we come down to Israel and now we have the detailed will of God for all society. We have rules for public health, we have rules for loans, we have rules for work, how many hours a week you work, we have labor laws, we have dietary rules, we have worship rules, we have a grandiose scheme of worship with choirs, musicians, we have a welfare system in Israel, administered by the priests, they were the doctors and the health care people of their time. We have a perfect society with perfect laws and what happened? Man sinned, and it never worked. So when you hear the argument that what we need is a change in the political [can’t understand word], wait a minute, we’ve had all those answers in the past and they don’t work. Somewhere along the line you would think that we would get the point, but the problem is here, in our relationship with God Almighty. And that is always the problem and that is what history is exposing.

So finally, when we get to this fourth row on Table 8 and we have that final Kingdom when Jesus returns to bring in that Kingdom, once again we have a perfect world government, once again we have a very benign environment, not totally sin free but a benign environment, we have economic prosperity, we have health on a level that the human race has not seen since before the flood. And what happens at the end of the Millennial Kingdom? Satan is loosed for a while and what does he do? He begins a revolt again.

Do you see what this does? History is one sequence of things after another that refutes every excuse that man comes up with so that when we get in eternity somebody can’t raise their hand to God and say well, if you did it this way it would have worked. God is going to say I did it that way, sorry pal, it’s already been tried and you guys screwed up with that. I tried this and you sinned, I tried it that way and you sinned, we tried it this way and you sinned. Do you see what history is showing? The depravity of man, and that is not a good news message for most people.

That’s why people want to suppress the Bible and explain it away. That’s why we have academic people, I always laugh at academic critics of the Scripture. First of all usually they are quite Biblically ignorant people who have not really read the Bible, it amazes me that they can sit up there and make these pronouncements to naïve college students and get away with it. They get away with it because the college students don’t know any better either. But the point is that there’s this tremendously illiterate attitude toward the Scriptures, and if you could ever watch the politics on a college campus, here these guys are in front of their classes telling you the way society ought to be ordered. They can’t even run a faculty meeting on the campus. If you really are intimate to the way most universities and college campuses are run, there is stealing going on, there is all kinds of absconding of funding, trying to rip funds out of one department for another person’s department, trying to put people down, trying to get them fired, all kinds of stuff. And this by the people who are trying to tell us how to run society. All you have to do, the cure for anything you hear on the college campus is attend a faculty meeting, watch what happens. The point I’m making is that the end run of all this is to expose man’s sin and God’s faithfulness, that’s what it’s all about, man’s sin and God’s faithfulness.

This outline on Table 8 is expanded again and again. On page 115, again these words, we haven’t touched how they’re used in the New Testament, but if you look at this set of vocabulary that was developed under the Old Testament, and vocabulary when you get into the Bible has got to be defined on the basis of usage. So what you do is when you see these words you go back and see how they were used in the Old Testament. This is not too difficult, you don’t have to know Hebrew and Greek to do this, all you need is a thing called a concordance. The terms I picked out are very important because they occur later on in the New Testament. Tribulation, on page 115 you will see a reference, Deuteronomy 4:30, a very important reference, that’s where the word “Tribulation” first occurs in an eschatological context and that is where it obtains its flavor.

Let me digress for a moment on tribulation. We’re going to get into it very shortly and what I want you to do is think about the word as it is used for Israel. Israel’s Tribulation is to get her ready for the coming King. And that Tribulation is revealed in the Old Testament to be a horrible time, a time of unprecedented sorrows, a horrible time in human history that would include human agencies, apostate governments, but also geophysical judgments, earthquakes, astronomical phe­nom­enon, all kinds of stuff. It’s like the universe is coming apart here. The word “Tribulation,” remember this, this word is not used for normal suffering. Every once in a while you get people that want to keep the church in the Tribulation and they say well, those pretribu­lational people, they just want to let the church off, the church needs to suffer, it needs to be purified. Excuse me! The church has gone through purification century after century. What was the coliseum all about? The tribulation, this tribulation is that kind of suffering; that kind of suffering is to purify the church. This isn’t to purify the church, this is to get Israel ready to receive her Messiah, and it is to judge the nations on the basis of their treatment of Israel. That’s the purpose of this Tribulation, so let’s not confuse this. Just because it’s a word, tribulation, that somehow if the church isn’t part of it, gosh, that’s a cop out. No it isn’t. It isn’t a cop out; it’s a cop out only if this Tribulation has something to do with the church.

The Day of Jehovah, as it is translated in the Bible is the next term. That is an Old Testament word and it’s used for sometimes a period of time, it can be an instantaneous literal day, it has varied uses but common to all those uses is that God does something stunning in deliverance or judgment. The time of Jacob’s trouble, there’s a term in the Old Testament, the time of Jacob’s trouble. It’s not the time of the church’s trouble; it’s the time of Jacob’s trouble.

Then the metaphoric birth pangs, you’ll see Jesus pick that one up, the idea of the birth pangs that keep on increasing until the birth, the birth of the Kingdom.

Now we come on page 117 to the final milestone of Israel. In other words, what can we look forward to as specific things that must happen in history to culminate the career of the nation Israel. We look backward, in order for Jesus to come and set up His Kingdom what has to be there first? They’ve got to have a land with Israel in it. Jesus is going to come back, and before He comes back, by the way, the antichrist is going to desecrate a temple. So what does that tell you? Besides Israel being in the land what else has to be in the land? There has to be a temple there, you can’t desecrate a temple if there isn’t any temple there to desecrate. This is not profound stuff here, this is straight forward. So you have to have all these things in place for Israel to do its thing. You’re going to have the antichrist come, he’s going to make a treaty, he’s going to break the treaty and later the Messiah is going to come. It’s quite simple, and Messiah when He comes is going to establish the long-awaited Kingdom.

When the Messiah comes to establish His Kingdom, is He or is He not an infallible leader. [someone answers] Absolutely because He’s resurrected and He’s perfect. Who is He going to bring in as an administration for His Kingdom? An infallible administration, His body who are also resurrected. See once you’re resurrected it’s a resurrection to damnation forever and ever or it’s a resurrection to blessing for ever and ever, but there’s no transgression, no conversions from that point on, everything is fixed. So this is a strange time. I had a person on the telephone the other day say what’s this millennium business all about, I mean you’ve got people like resurrected saints coexisting with mortal people, I can’t believe that. I said well, if you can’t believe that what do you do about the antediluvian period when you had angels coexisting with men. Well I hadn’t thought about that.

History is stranger than you’d like to think. We’ve had whole ages that were weird, weird things going on. We don’t know what it looked like before the Flood but somehow angels were here administering things; they had an angelic police force that was the security guard around Eden and they had swords to kill people with. So what was that all about? That was weird, and the Bible doesn’t fill in all the details. Maybe someday we’ll see movies of what happened or something. In the future it’s going to be interesting in the Kingdom because Jesus is going to rule the nations and it says with what, a rod of spaghetti? No, a rod of iron.

What does that tell you about Jesus’ authority in the time to come? He has the right to kill and to take life. There will be capital punishment in the Millennial Kingdom, with all due apologies to some of the people that have problems with that. But Jesus is going to administer that in the Kingdom for there will be people born in this Kingdom who are not born again and they will be deceived at Satan’s revolt at the end, they will refuse to bow their knee, to trust personally in Jesus Christ. They’ll see Him, they’ll submit grudgingly to His external authority but they won’t submit in the internal heart. So once again we’ve got a big mess.

So much for Israel, now we come to the church. We said when did the church begin? This is a critical, critical question. If you don’t answer this question right you’re going to flounder. When did the church begin? Was the church in the Old Testament? The word “church” means an assembly, you had an assembly in the Old Testament, but I’m talking about the church as we know it, the body of Christ. What did Jesus say in Matthew 16? “I will build My church.” Is that a present tense or a future tense? It’s future, I will build My church. So He wasn’t building it then, He is going to build it. In the New Testament the church is seen to be in union with Christ in His ascension; we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, so what does that suggest? The church can’t exist until Christ gets up there to be in union with. So if the church is defined as those who are in union with Christ in the ascension, the Ascended One, then it has to be sometime after the ascension that it began.

We came down and we concluded, because of the baptism and the Spirit and other things, that the church began on the day of Pentecost, not before. So that means that we have to go to the Scriptures that address the church, not Israel, the church, to see what God is talking about to the church, and its future. So on page 118 I give certain themes. If you do this you’ll see that there are themes that you can pick up out of the New Testament text. Let’s turn to Ephesians 2 because Ephesians is a central New Testament epistle that talks about this thing called the church. Certain things are said about this church; one of them that I’m talking about is in Ephesians 2:6, this is a stunning verse if you ever thought about it, this will keep you going in your thinking process for hours and hours asking questions about how this happens. Just look at what verse 6 says about the church. He has “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” So there’s a union between believers and the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. That’s one theme. That is why our citizenship is said to be rooted where? On earth or in heaven? Our citizenship is in heaven. Why? Because we are in union with the ascended Lord Jesus Christ. That’s one theme, the union.

A little footnote on Ephesians chapter 2; if you go down to verse 11 you’ll see that the Gentiles, in verses 12–13 combine with the Jews. Now Gentiles combined with Jews in the church, can the church be Israel? We’ve got a problem here. Israel in the Old Testament is defined to be Jewish only. Why? Because it’s a racially defined entity, furthermore, Israel becomes a nation. God gives social legislation to Israel. Do you find any legislation on money, loans, public health, latrines, in the New Testament? I haven’t found any yet. I had a person one time go through all the Old Testament rules, listed them all out and then went through the New Testament and listed them all out, and do you know there are big gaps in the New Testament that are not filled in. There are no laws for society; they were never given to the church. Why do you suppose that is? Because the church isn’t a nation. God isn’t giving the church legislation for social entities because the church isn’t a nation. If the church was a nation we would have social legislation given to us in the New Testament. But there’s a glaring gap.

So when people want to go back for social legislation they have to get principles out of the Old Testament that worked with Israel. Why do you have to do that? Why didn’t God do this for the church? Because the church is made up of people from every nation. Remember what it says in the book of Revelation, one day they shall come from every tongue and every nation on earth, that’s the church. The church can’t be identified with one nation; the church is a supra s-u-p-r-a national entity, it is above the nations.

I don’t know whether if you’ve had this experience but you need to have this experience sometime in your life, you’ve got to have the experience of meeting a Christian from another society and culture, you’ve got to have that experience because once you’ve had it, you have this person and they are racially different than you are, they’re culturally different than you are, their background isn’t anything like your background. And you can sit down with them and have fellowship over the Lord Jesus Christ. What a stunning exper­ience that is. All of a sudden there is something that clicks between you and that other person. You may not even speak the same language, you may have to have a translator but there’s a heart unity here because the life of Christ in them speaks to the life of Christ in you. There’s a spiritual camaraderie that happens and it’s a powerful thing. Once you’ve had that experience a time or two all of a sudden it will click with you what a thing the body of Christ is.

I just gave you an illustration, what I call the horizontal, spatial illustration, coming from culture A to culture B, to do this experiment you’ve got to use your imagination. Let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s suppose we get in a time machine and we go back 300 years, maybe to Europe. And in Europe we meet some German Christians, Lutherans or Brethren or somebody like that. We have a translator so we can talk to them and what we would discover is the same camaraderie, this time across the centuries, because we too share the body of Christ, we’re part of the body of Christ. That’s that mysterious unity and that’s what defines the church, not a nation but this body-ness.

On page 118, the second theme that you’ll identify in the New Testament, is when it talks about maturity. In Ephesians both in chapters 1 and 3, if you look at the prayer, particularly in Ephesians 3:16, we’ve often heard sermons on these, you can cheat here, all you have to do is go back to the prayer here, it tells you what God’s will is praying for other believers. He says “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, [17] so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, [19] and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filed up to all the fullness of God.”

There’s a maturing theme in the Bible, and if you’ll notice carefully, the maturing trend in verses 16–19 centers on what? What is the heart of that prayer? The growth is a growth in the knowledge of the Lord. Somebody recently pointed this out to me, that if you take all the warning passages in the New Testament, do you know what the most frequent theme of the warning passages is in the New Testament? Defection from true doctrine. Isn’t that interesting? They are concerned with that more than they are concerned with any other thing, not that there aren’t other issues, but isn’t it interesting that the most frequent warning is to depart from the truth. The reason for that is that you cannot operate in the Christian life in a mental vacuum. If your perceptions and conceptions are screwed up, you can’t cut the mustard when it comes to the Christian life. You’ve got to have content. The Christian life involves a mental activity. I’m not talking about being an intellectual here, but I’m talking about thinking what truth is all about.

There’s very strong emphasis on this, corporate growth and we spent some time in the previous chapter, if you line up all of church history what do you see? A progress in doctrine. In the first four centuries what was the doctrinal progress concerning? The Person of Jesus Christ and the Trinity. The next four hundred years, what was that progress all about? Understanding what happened on the cross, understanding atonement, understanding how I become a Christian, is it by works or by faith? And in the last 100–300 years of church history what’s been the theme? What is the future, eschatology.

The third theme on page 118 is something that’s not true in the Old Testament, global evangelization. It’s interesting, but until dispensationalism came about and the literal translation and interpretation of the Bible, missions were always second rate, low priority. It’s only when you had literal interpretation with a dispensational clarity that you have the rise of the modern missionary movement. There’s a reason for that, because global evangelization is one of the themes of the church’s reason for existence. The church has got to get complete. How is the church going to get complete if the gospel never penetrates every people group? The body would be deformed, wouldn’t it? If you didn’t have evangelization of, say that people group, and that people group, and that people group, but you had evangelization of those people, those people and those people, then in eternity the body of Christ would be made up of believers and no representatives of these people. That’s not what the picture is in the Book of Revelation. What does it say? You have redeemed us out of every peoples group, all languages have been evangelized. So there’s a theme, global evangelization is the theme of the church.

Another theme of the church is suffering from the onslaught of Satan. Christ was hated and so His body is going to be hated; if you hate the head you’re going to hate the body. Satan is opposed to the Lord Jesus Christ but why can’t he get to the Lord Jesus directly? Where is the Lord Jesus? At the Father’s right hand, He’s sitting where Satan wanted to be. Satan got faked out. This is characteristic of evil. This is kind of a guideline to pray, when you get in certain kinds of situations in life where you have to pray these kinds of prayers, where you find yourself confronted with a strong evilness, we’re confronted nationally with Al-Qaida, strong evil, so what’s a good way of praying about this? Here’s the strategy to pray. Pray that evil oversteps itself and does something stupid.

We have a number of policemen in the congregation. Do you know what they always tell me? We catch the stupid ones because they always make some stupid mistake. Remember the sniper, everything was going cool for that guy until he blew it by making a telephone call because he had to brag to the police what a great guy he was and they ought to check him out. Well they did, that’s how they found out who he was, the idiot. We always catch the stupid ones. That’s the way Satan is, he always does something stupid. He is a genius, I’m not calling him an idiot here in that sense, but he is so arrogant that his arrogance causes his brilliance to become stupid. Satan so hated the Lord Jesus Christ that he wanted to kill Him. The very act of trying to eliminate Jesus from this earth did what to Satan’s kingdom? It pulled the rug out from under it, didn’t it? And that’s the way God works. You watch, again and again in Scripture, it’s as though there’s a dynamic ebb and flow and evil reaches out to grab and attack, and God steps back and then neatly counter moves, so that the downfall of evil is evil’s own aggression. That happens with Satan, Satan over reached, the Lord Jesus Christ is not at the Father’s right hand.

Now what can Satan do. What did Paul hear Jesus say on the Damascus Road? Paul was attacking the church, Jesus said to Paul on the Damascus Road, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute the Christians?” He didn’t say that, did He? On the Damascus Road He said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” You see, Jesus had warned us that the god of this world hated Me and he will hate you, the world will hate you. The reason the world hates you isn’t because it’s got a personal thing, it’s because if we’re Christians we’re identified to the powers around us as Christians and we’re going to take flack. We are going to be targets, so we don’t walk around with a big bull’s eye painted to our chest like a bunch of idiots. If you know you’re going to be shot at you take some precautions. That’s why we have covering fire and it’s called prayer for one another, because all of us at one time or another are in the sites of the principalities and powers. They may not have anything personal with you, but just because you wear the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ you see that. You can’t, we can’t see the righteousness of Christ credited to our account. Where is it, I don’t see it, we can’t detect it. They do. So whether we are detecting it or not they are and that’s why we become targets.

So the church theme is that it suffers because of its identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan always oversteps himself, even here. How many times have you read or heard testimonies by believers where they went through a struggling period. What do you often hear along with those testimonies besides the suffering? The results; and what are some of the results? Spiritual growth, witnessing to other believers, somebody becomes a Christian because they see that person suffering and they say holy mackerel, how do they hack that? They wonder, and it’s an entrée to the gospel. Even here when Satan attacks he usually winds up causing spiritual growth. Did you ever hear the expression, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church?” What does it mean? Because every time Satan has persecuted the church it makes the church grow like crazy. Whatever it is, it’s horrible to go through and live through, but in the large grand scheme of things it seems to be what causes the expansion of the church. So suffering is the other theme in the church.

Page 119, two more themes that are common to the church. The church is said to be not appointed unto wrath and the word “wrath,” 1 Thessalonians 1:10 is a good verse for that. The word “wrath” here refers to the Second Coming and it says we are “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” The word orgh (orge) or orghj (orges) here, that Greek word is a word that is used of the judgments that fall upon the earth at the second return of Christ.

On Table 8 what did we say was going to happen? Judgments on the nations, that’s one of the purposes of the Tribulation, judgment on the nations. What does it say here about the church? Who “delivers us from the wrath to come?” Why should there be wrath anyway against the body of Christ? That doesn’t make sense does it, the Father executing wrath on the Son? The church is identified with Christ. See, there are some radical differences here and I want you to sense this as we go through this. This is different than Israel.

You see some verses, there’s Romans 8:1, there’s Romans 2, there’s Romans 1, many different verses, but 1 Thessalonians 1:10 is a classic reference where this is expressed. The church’s immunity from the future wrath of God, because that wrath has another purpose, the suffering that is mentioned, and this is why I put this immunity right after suffering. See, the “wrath of God to come” isn’t the suffering that’s in the previous paragraph. That fourth theme is suffering for growth, there’s where the suffering for growth occurs. But Paul says “the wrath … [blank spot]

… Christians down through the centuries, one of the problems that we’ll go into when we get into this, we’ll go into the various views of the Tribulation. It’s amazing that the people who want to bring the church into the Tribulation have to do something with the suffering. One guy I read said well the suffering in the Tribulation really isn’t that bad because they’re going to use guillotines and chop your head off and it’s painless. They wind up having to make the suffering of the Tribulation like it’s no different from the suffering of the rest of the Church Age. Wrong! That is a special time in history that is directed to prepare the world for the return of Christ. It’s going to be different there; it’s a different kind of suffering for a different kind of purpose. One must not confuse these two.

There is judgment upon the church. If you go to Revelation 2–3 the Lord Jesus Christ disciplines His church, and that’s in there. The Lord Jesus Christ is going to purify the church; there is no question about it. And He maintains discipline on the church and we could go through different letters but Revelation 2 and 3 is like an inspection report. Jesus inspects these different churches then He writes up an inspection report. If you’ve been in the military you know what an inspection report looks like; you conform to this point, this point, this point, you had a finding over here and you have another finding over here, and then you have so many days to correct those finds or there are some problems coming your way. That’s what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in Revelation 2 and 3, it’s an inspection report of His findings on these different congregations and He’s going to take care of those congregations, the discipline upon the congregation.

For example, Revelation 2:20, He’s dealing with this prophet that’s called Jezebel, “she teaches and leads my bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” False teaching. Verse 21, “And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality,” so verse 22, I’m going to “cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. [23] And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” So the church has purification, the church has judgments but these are judgments between the Lord Jesus and these entities, these local entities. Then He has the promises that He gives the church.

Finally, another theme is not only is the church immune from the future orge of God, but the church is commanded to look for the imminent return of the Lord Jesus. I want to define the word “imminency.” If you look on the notes, page 119, right after I mention the word imminency I give you a definition, so watch the definition. It’s not quite what some people think it is. “The term imminency means that Christ could come for His church at any time—no prophesied event has to occur before it. A prophesied event might occur before it, but it doesn’t have to.” So it’s not saying, for example, in Ezekiel, some people believe you’ll have the armies of the north or something comes down on Israel. Maybe that could happen before the church is raptured, but the point is, that’s not the launching point for the Tribulation. That event would be a prophesied event that could happen before the church is raptured; it could happen after the church is raptured.

The point is nothing has to happen between now and when the church is raptured. Go to 1 Corinthians 15, it talks about the resurrection, that’s the theme there and it says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery,” and a mystery is something that is new revelation, “I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” This is new; you don’t find this in the Old Testament. Verse 52, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” In other words, the idea of an instantaneous transform from your mortal body to your resurrection body is an utterly new thought and that’s a possibility. The idea of imminency is that that could happen at any moment once the church got established.

People who quibble about imminency will all tell you well, the world has to be evangelized before the Rapture, Peter had to die, and they go through these things, and there are explanations for these things, but the point is that the doctrine of imminency doesn’t show up until the church is existent. Remember what I said about the book of Acts; in the beginning of Acts even though the church exists is it clear that it’s existing? No, because what’s going on throughout the first half of the book of Acts? Peter is preaching to Israel again to accept the Messiah so they can have the Kingdom. So the church doesn’t become clear until decades later, so a lot of these things really aren’t a problem for imminency. We’ll get into that.

But the idea here is that you have these themes. All the themes that I’ve talked about, going backwards, imminency, immunity, suffering, all these themes are the counter weight to Table 8 for Israel. Do you see a difference? Where in all these themes do you see any kind of an exile mentioned? Where do you see any kind of land mentioned? Where do you see any kind of we’re going to bring the Kingdom on earth mentioned? These are themes that are particular and peculiar and aimed at the church. The idea to come out of this is that the church and Israel are two distinct entities.

Some more things we want to finish because the next time we meet we want to get into the church and the Tribulation. I want to deal with the Rapture a little more. Some people will say the word “Rapture” isn’t in the text. It is in the Latin edition, but the Trinity isn’t either so I’m not particularly impressed with that. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, often used at funerals. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep,” do you see how practical Paul was. You hear people say well, prophecy is too hard and I don’t want to bother with it, Christians disagree with it, etc. Why did Paul bother with revealing it here? In the context what was the problem? Practical everyday problems, personal friends who had died. And you’re going to have an eschatology whether you think about it or not, you will have some form of eschatology. It may be chaotic, it may be unbiblical but you’ll have an eschatology. You operate with one every day, it’s just that maybe we don’t think through what the eschatology is that’s driving us every day, but we all have an eschatology.

So Paul doesn’t want them to be uninformed about those who are asleep, these are loved ones who have died. What about Grandma Alice or somebody who’s a great believer and I know she prayed for me and that’s why I’m a Christian today, because my grandmother prayed for me or my grand­father, or I knew my father and he died prematurely from a disease. That’s the question we’re asking. That’s the question, “I don’t want you ignorant about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.” The idea here is that he’s talking about suffering, personal sorrow; I don’t want you to grieve like a person who has an unbiblical eschatology.

Verse 14, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” Look at that and think about it! Let’s read verse 14 literally, “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him, when He comes, bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” So is there going to be a rejoining? If Jesus were to come tonight, what does it say? He would bring with Him those Christians who have died. You can think in your own congregation, your own group, somebody that has died, you’re going to see them. That’s what it says here in my Bible. It says “God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”

Verse 15, “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Verses 14–16 are dealing with a picture of the resurrection body. So let’s diagram this. Here’s the ground, here’s some rotted body with a few molecules left. Jesus comes down from heaven and He brings with Him, it says “those who have died” but their bodies are in the ground because when we die we don’t get resurrection bodies right away. So along with the Lord Jesus Christ comes people who are born again but who have died. They come with Him and at this point they receive their resurrection bodies, because what else does it say in verse 16? He “will descend … and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” So all of a sudden there’s an assembling of material transforming into bodies and these spirits go tch tch tch and all of a sudden they’re walking around in resurrected bodies.

Talk about something mind blowing here, try putting this in a physics class; what’s going on, because obviously bodies who have died centuries ago don’t exist, the molecules and the worms and everything else have taken them and digested them five times since the body was put down in the ground. So those molecules are all gone, but somehow God creates this resurrected body and He does it quickly. It doesn’t take a million and a half years to do this with some experiments along the way. This is something that happens instantly when Christ returns, an amazing thing.

Then he goes on and he says … you know what’ so neat with Paul in these texts, he comes out with this stuff that’s so mind blowing and then just casually goes to the next verse to tell you some more stuff, and in verse 16, after he says the dead in Christ shall rise first, verse 17 gives another detail. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” You have to read verse 17 along with 1 Corinthians 15. Basically here’s a person now, this person has a body, and these people don’t have bodies.

What happens is, these people get their bodies, and he says that’s going to happen first. All of a sudden they hit their resurrection bodies and then we have our mortal bodies … what do I mean by our mortal body? A body subject to death, and in the twinkling of an eye it switches and becomes a resurrection body, without going through the death process. So these people, they died, they shed their body, their soul is in the presence of the Lord. Then they come back and they’re reunified with their bodies. But the people who are alive at this fantastic instant in history don’t go through death. There will be one generation and only one in the body of Christ who never die, but instantly go from this body to the next one. At this point everything changes, a radical thing. That’s what we call the Rapture.

So we’ve defined that key term and next time we’ll go on and tie in, on page 120 we’re going to start talking about the church and the Tribulation.