The idea of interpretation of biblical prophecy is a very touchy subject with many believers. For some reason, it raises the ire out of people more than any other subject. Perhaps an unconscious fear of hardships causes some to close their minds to anything other than, for example, a pre-tribulation rapture interpretation. At any rate, the thought of accepting an alternative viewpoint and interpretation of biblical prophecy than what a person has already stood upon, or heard taught, is very rare amongst people. It seems that for the most part, the majority of believers simply stick with what interpretation they first were able to reason through when they heard it. If they heard teaching about a certain viewpoint and could follow the teacher's reasoning, that is the interpretation they lock themselves into and ever after disregard any other interpretation. But such handling of teachings is very immature in a spiritual sense and is extremely narrow-minded.
Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.Solomon told us that we should be able to at least listen throroughly to an alternative interpretation rather than simply cast it aside because it was something we have not hear before. Why is it that people think something must be incorrect simply because they did not hear it before?
If you have not heard my interpretation, then please be open and consider the reasons I propose this interpretation to be the correct one. I have held to other interpretations and after time saw missing gaps in them, and realized there must be a clearer understanding. Each previous interpretation I held to simply did not answer all the questions I had in my mind. But this view, in my opinion, has been the most scripturally based interpretation I have ever come to consider. It is based entirely upon allowing the Bible to interpret itself, rather than look at the scientific advances in our world in order to interpret scripture. I always had the strong conviction that the Bible is its own commentator and interprets itself.
The following is a correspondence I held with a brother in the Lord who unfortunately turned out to be rather closed-minded about the entire issue. But here is my explanation I gave to this man for your consideration. I give this letter for your reading because I find that my attempts to sit down and write a study with no interaction with others does not result in as clear a case for my viewpoints as well as instances where I am actually answering questions to a person and writing with another's views in mind. Writing in response to a chat with a person seems to better explain my thoughts. My words are more natural and flowing in those times. I hope this blesses you.
First of all, I came to the conclusion that post-tribulation rapture was the reality of the three major interpretations: pre, mid and post-tribulation rapture. I always assumed that the tribulation in that context was in our future. However, I came to discover that the 70 weeks of Daniel are consecutive without a gap between the 69th and 70th. It was from that theory of a gap that the idea of a future seven-year-tribulation period came from. Some say the tribulation is 3.5 years and the wrath 3.5 years. But either way, the whole idea derived from the theory that there is a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel's entire 70 week period. Since a week is interpreted to be seven years, that gap pushed ahead that period of seven years into the future.
However, I like what one brother said. If we used that kind of thinking and took a yardstick that measured three feet, and chopped off the last inch and inserted a rubber band between it and the rest of the yardstick, then we could stretch the end piece and make it fit any measurement we chose, and say that it is three feet. Silly. But that is what they did with the 70 weeks of Daniel. They chopped off the last week, without any indication in scripture to do that, and stretched out the last week 2000 years after Christ died, and further!
If God said 70 weeks, or 490 years, then that is what He meant without a gap or anything. The "he" in Daniel 9:27 is Jesus, the Messiah. And He ministered for precisely three and one half years, and then died thus ending the sacrifice... causing the sacrifice and oblation to cease. There is no gap between the two.
Consider this: If there is no gap between the 69th and 70th weeks, then there is no future seven year period., Furthermore, God is completed with working with Israel alone. The seventy weeks were determined upon Israel alone. And for the first three and one half years of Jesus ministry, the first half of the seventieth week, Gentiles were not included. Jesus did a few miracles here and there for gentiles, but for the most part it was for the children that the children's bread was provided -- Israel.
And historically it was 3.5 years after the cross that the gentiles began to come in. The day of Pentecost was solely for the Jews. And the next three and one half years excluded Gentiles, although it eventually got to them. But that is because the 70 weeks were exclusively for the people of Israel.
Personally, I believe the natural people of Israel will not be isolated and worked with again in God's plans for the future. I personally believe that they will come in the same way we do... Acts 2:38.
But, back to a point. If there is no future seven year period foretold in the Bible of trouble, and trouble came long ago, then the rapture is still going to be a post-tribulation rapture. The scriptures definitely speak of a post-tribulation rapture. But the question is when is the tribulation ? I discovered that the tribulation already occurred.
In Matthew 24, Jesus said that all the things listed up until verse 34 would occur in the generation that Jesus was speaking to. He said this generation, as He spoke to the people. In other words, their generation. And that included the temple destruction. Not one stone was left of the temple when Rome came in 70 AD (4o years later -- one generation) and destroyed Jerusalem. Some say there are still stones standing. That is not true. The Temple is the Temple proper. That includes only the holy place and the most holy place... not the surrounding walls of the various outer courts. The stones of the holy place and most holy place are gone forever! Gold seeped between the stones of the temple proper when fire was lit in it. It melted the gold all over the walls and from the furniture. That caused the ROmans to turn over every single stone of the temple proper to get the gold.
In some cases, the coming of the Lord was said to be the 70 ad destruction of Rome.
Matthew 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be comeJesus looked into the eyes of his disciples and said that those very men would flee from city to city. And they would not have gone over all the cities of Israel til the Son of Man be come. In other words, some references to the coming of the Son of man, refer not to the rapture, but to the destruction of 70 AD. He came in judgment and destroyed the city through the instrument of Rome, just as He used other nations to destroy during the Old Testament.
Matthew 23:36-38 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.We know that that indeed did happen in 70 AD. That Generation experienced the desolation of the temple.
But here is the issue you bring up below. Church present during wrath.
I had to say all of the above to get to this issue.
Let's say that the wrath of the lamb occurred in 70 AD.
Now, read the following:
Luke 23:27-30 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children . For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say , Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.While Jesus was going to the cross, women wept for Him. But the truth was that He already cursed Jerusalem in Matthew 23 and 24, after they rejected Him. Actually the cursing began after Matthew 21.
But Revelation speaks of this very thing that Jesus said, and Jesus said it would occur with that generation ... in other words, those very women themselves and their children.
Revelation 6:13-17 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?Jesus said that this would happen to the women He spoke to and to their children!
If you study carefully, you will find that the six seals perfectly match the signs Jesus gave in Matthew. The four horsemen are listed in the same order as Jesus lists them in Matthew 24:4-8. Check it out. Its amazing! And Jesus said all these things would occur in that generation of Jesus' day, just as Matthew 23:36 referred to that generation.
After the people of Jerusalem rejected Him, parables were given hinting that Jerusalem would be destroyed. But it also read that some would be saved and protected. Others would be blessed. Check out the parables from Matthew 21 through to Matthew 25. They all are said in view of the rejection of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Matthew 22:3-10 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.Some were slain after the invitation went forth. That was the word of the Gospel to Israel. Israel rejected Him. So the slaying occurred in 70 AD. But the point is is that is wrath. And while wrath carried on, there were others bidden to the wedding instead. The others comprised the CHURCH.
The same is true in Matthew 21.
Matthew 21:38-41 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast [him] out of the vineyard, and slew [him]. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out [his] vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.The slaying is the wrath of God. And that correlates to 70 AD because Jerusalem directly fulfills that group of people who slew the Son in the parable. And while that slaying occurred, the Church was not taken out of the world, but rather was present in the world and saved from the wrath by heeding Jesus' warnings to flee Jerusalem. They were spared while the city was destroyed.
Back to Matthew 23. Matthew 23:36 speaks of that generation in which Jesus lived. And verse 37 speaks of how Jesus would have "GATHERED JERUSALEM TOGETHER" as a hen does with her chicks. And contrast that with Matthew 24.
Matthew 23:36 -- THIS GENERATION (referring to that
of Jesus' day)
Matthew 24:34 -- THIS GENERATION
Matthew 23:37 -- He would have "GATHERED THY CHILDREN
Matthew 24:31 -- HE WILL "GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT" (CHURCH)
So we see a picture of God's church in the world during the wrath being poured out upon Jerusalem. But it is not going to happen . It has already happened! That does not mean that there is no future rapture, as some think. But these verses do not refer to the rapture, whereas others do.
Revelation's 6th seal compares with Matthew 24:29-33. And that was the destruction of Jerusalem. Stars falling and sun and moon darkening in the Old Testament always stood for the downfall of a kingdom. Check out old testament references to Babylon's fall and Egypt's fall, etc. The sun did not literally stop shining, but rather was Hebrew symbolism for a kingdom falling. Their lights went out!
So, your main question may very well be answered by realizing that the wrath that the Bible speaks about was upon Jerusalem due to the most evil and tremendously vile act of rejecting their very God when they crucified Jesus Christ. That generation of Jews alone, not all generations as racists propose, was cursed. What could be worse than crucifying the Lord who came to them?
Zephaniah 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of the LORD'S wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of ALL the inhabitants of the earth. (NAS)Please bear with me, since this may cross some major positions you hold in prophecy...
As in the Greek language, earth is the same term for land in the Hebrew. The KJV reads:
Zephaniah 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.So I believe this is speaking about the land of Israel. A local prophecy is what Matthew 24 is all about. And I feel the Bible repeatedly pointed to the greatest evil of all evils.... the rejection of Jesus by the Jews.
If you look carefully, for example, at the following, this was fulfilled in 70 AD.
When Moses gave Israel warnings about the keeping of His Law, in Deuteronomy, He listed several curses. Now this is incredibly interesting, since the setting in which Israel was to fulfill a the command of Moses to give Israel these warnings was before they entered Canaan. And Joshua was the one who fulfilled this command to list the warnings of cruses and blessings on Israel according to how they would treat the Law. When Israel went into Canaan, under Joshua's leadership, they came to Shechem / Sychar. And there they set up the ark and on one side of the ark was Mount Ebal, and on the others was Gerizim . Upon Gerizim would be blessings listed, and upon Ebal would be the cursings. Get the picture. The ark in the middle and cursings on one side and blessings on the other.
That is exactly what Matthew 25 shows with Jesus gathering the nations/TRIBES.... the blessed sheep on the right and the cursed goats on the left.
And amongst those cursings should Israel disregard God's word, was this:
Deuteronomy 28:47-56 Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee. The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young: And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee: So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave: So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates. The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,Then Daniel receives prophecy:
Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 speaks of the four kingdoms that rise, from Babylon onward. The fourth one was Rome. There was not a fifth beast in that vision. Rome was the fourth and final. People speak of Rome rising again. I disagree. They have to say that in order for them to fit in their gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9.
And Rome is called the following:
Daniel 8:23-24 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.This is Rome fulfilling the very words that Moses said would occur if Israel should disregard God's Word.
It is historical fact that during the siege upon Jerusalem by Rome, women ate their children and the land was destroyed totally!
Before I understood what happened in history in 70 AD, I put all of this into the future. But I discovered that the siege by Rome took exactly 3.5 years!
Revelation 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.A few verses later in the same context:
Zephaniah 2:2-3 Before the decree takes effect-- the day passes like the chaff-- before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be HIDDEN in the day of the LORD'S anger. (NAS)The word "hidden" in the Strong's dictionary has actually been translated as "absent" in other passages where it has occurred. God will of course divinely protect believers. When Jesus spoke about the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24, He said that when those Christians to whom he spoke saw the abomination of desolation occur, as Daniel foretold, then they must flee to the mountains. This actually occurred in history! The Christians fled to Pella, and were protected by God there.
While Rome was surrounding Jerusalem, for no apparent reason at all, Josephus says, the leader of the armies backed off. the Jews took this to mean they were fearful of them, and became more rebellious against Rome. But the Church took this as their time to flee. At the same time, the Zealots had been in the temple and actually dressed a clown up as High Priest who went into the holiest of holies. This is all history in Josephus! Base and lewd men were allowed into the most holy place, and priests recorded it for posterity sake that they cannot imagine how the temple had been desecrated!
Meanwhile, the Church fled to the mountains -- Perea and Pella.
Luke 21:20-22 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.And God hid them and protected them. During the time the land -- same word as earth in both the Greek and Hebrew -- was destroyed and nothing left.
This is not referring to the rapture at all. It is the fleeing of the church into protection in Pella. This already occurred! When I found out these facts I was thrilled to see Matthew 24 fit together with all these prophecies.
There is a post-tribulation rapture any way that you look at it, because the great tribulation was in 70 AD, and the rapture will occur long after that in our future. So the post-tribulation rapture studies we have both done are valid. But the timing of the tribulation was off, as I discovered, after I saw some of the verses where Jesus spoke of this generation being the very generation to whom He spoke, and the other references that arise in the book of Revelation again.
I have an entire series of studies on the subject here at my site: