By Dr. Renald Showers
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
The doctrinal statement of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. contains the following declarations:
We believe in the premillennial and pretribulational return of Jesus Christ. This means that Christ’s return for His bride (the Church) is imminent and therefore can happen at any moment (1 Thess. 4:13–17; 5:6). We believe that, following the Rapture of the Church, the Tribulation Period (Daniel’s 70th Week, or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble) will take place (Dan. 9:24–27; 2 Thess. 2:3–4).
These official declarations clearly indicate that The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry advocates the pretribulation Rapture view. In light of the fact that many fine Christians hold other views concerning the time of the Rapture, why does this Mission believe that Christ will return to rapture the Church out of the world before the 70th Week of Daniel 9 (commonly called the Tribulation period) begins? Several reasons for this belief will be presented.
The 70-Week Prophecy of Daniel 9
In Daniel 9:24 Daniel was told that God had determined 70 weeks (70 periods of time, each consisting of seven years) for Daniel’s people (Israel) and his holy city Jerusalem).
It should be noted that all 70 weeks had been determined uniquely for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the Church.
The Church did not exist during any part of the first 69 of the 70 weeks. The 69th week ended with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The Church did not begin until the Day of Pentecost after that Palm Sunday. God consistently kept the Church out of the first 69 weeks. It is evident that He intended the first 69 weeks to be His program for Israel only, not for the Church. This intention is consistent with the fact that God uniquely determined the 70 weeks for Israel only.
God temporarily interrupted His 70-week program for Israel at the end of the 69th week with a gap of time which is now approaching 2,000 years in duration. As a result, the 70th week has not yet begun. This is another way of saying that the Tribulation period has not yet begun. God brought the Church into existence very shortly after He interrupted His 70-week program for Israel, just 57 days after the 69th week ended with the triumphal entry of Christ.
Taken together, the above facts strongly imply three things. First, God does not intend the Church to be present for any of the 70 weeks that He has determined specifically and uniquely for Israel. He intends to keep His 70-week program for Israel and His program for the Church separate and distinct from each other, just as Israel and the Church are distinct.
Second, God does intend the Church to be present specifically and uniquely for the interrupting gap of time between the end of the first 69 weeks and the beginning of the 70th week. If God had intended to mix His 70-week program for Israel with His program for the Church, would He not have started the Church sometime during the first 69 weeks of the 70-week program?
Third, God will remove the Church from the earth before the 70th week begins (before He resumes His 70 week program for Israel).
These implications fit only the pretribulation Rapture view. All other views have the Church going through at least the first half of the 70th week.
The References to the Church and Israel in Revelation
Although the Church is referred to 25 times in the Book of Revelation, none of the references appear in Revelation 4 to 18, the chapters which cover the 70th week of Daniel 9 (the Tribulation period), including the seals, trumpets, and bowls.
By contrast, 26 of the 30 references to Israel in the Book of Revelation appear within chapters 4 to 18. Thus, over 86 percent of the references to Israel occur in the chapters that cover the 70th week of Daniel 9, including the seals, trumpets, and bowls, but none of the references to the Church occur in those chapters.
This contrast is consistent with the implications of the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9 noted earlier. It is exactly what should be true of the Book of Revelation if the Church is raptured from the earth before the 70th week of Daniel 9 begins (before God resumes His 70-week program for Israel). Thus, this contrast corresponds precisely with the pretribulational Rapture view but conflicts with all other views of the Rapture.